LUMBERTON — This is the halfway point in the season, and I’m hoping that I haven’t peaked too early, like Purnell Swett and Red Springs seem to have done, with my picks.
Two Robeson County teams — Purnell Swett and St. Pauls — are playing the preseason favorites in their conferences, with one having the better chance than the other in those matchups, and teams like Fairmont, Red Springs and South Robeson trudge on through the Three Rivers Conference looking to recover from losses last week. Lumberton has a chance tonight to do something for the first time since I was in high school.
Through six weeks, my picks record is 25-3 after going 4-1 last week. I regret not having faith in the Bulldogs.
St. Pauls (3-2) at South Columbus (5-0)
A month short of a year, the game has lingered in the minds of the Bulldogs. South Columbus has been a buzz word most times when St. Pauls thinks or talks about last year, and coach Ernest King has said a “more complete football team” hits the road to Tabor City tonight to avenge last year’s loss.
Turnovers and big plays were the demise for St. Pauls last year in this game, and turnovers have seemed to come out at bad times this year. The Stallions have shown no signs of slowing down through five games, and the stampede will keep rolling past the Bulldogs, whose true colors will show with an inopportune turnover that could decide the game.
Prediction: South Columbus 32, St. Pauls 28
Jack Britt (2-3) at Lumberton (2-3)
Avast ye football fans, another battle on the high seas of the gridiron awaits the Pirates and the Buccaneers. The only treasure to take from this game for both teams won’t come in treasure chest, but a win that is nearly as valuable as gold with the games that lie ahead for both teams in the Sandhills Athletic Conference.
Braylan Grice will captain his team once again to another win, but he will have to use more than his legs, which probably felt more like sea legs on Saturday after rushing the ball 21 times last week, to get a win to start 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2011. Argh!
Prediction: Lumberton 34, Jack Britt 28
West Bladen (3-2) at South Robeson (1-4)
The best backfield in the Three Rivers Conference takes on the county’s leading rusher so the quarterbacks will have an easy night of handing the ball off to the workhorses in this one.
The Mustangs have to play the second half like it did against St. Pauls to pull this win out, but the way the three-back rushing attack did against the Bulldogs in its last time at home. Jamearos McLeod has found the end zone in every game, and that streak continues tonight.
Prediction: South Robeson 27, West Bladen 21
Scotland (3-1) at Purnell Swett (3-2)
With Zamir White coming to town, any fans trying to see him play against the Rams better get there early or you might miss him. The nation’s top running back for this senior class has done his work in a short time in blow out wins and has typically sat for the second half in those games, and this one could get out of hand or Purnell Swett early.
The Rams offense should be able to move effectively through the air against the Scots’ secondary. This will not be enough to make up for its defense’s failure to stop White and the rest of Scotland’s rushing attack, as Zeus strikes down a lightning bolt at Big Mo Stadium.
Prediction: Scotland 49, Purnell Swett 24
Whiteville (4-1) at Fairmont (3-2)
After its first loss of the year that was due to a flurry of second-half turnovers, Fairmont responded with a pair of wins as it was like a wake-up call for the team. The offense struggled in the second half against St. Pauls, and looks to return to the form it had the two weeks prior that was led quarterback Derrick Arnette’s dual-threat capabilities.
Those games following the first loss were against West Bladen and West Columbus, two teams no where near to the level of Whiteville. The struggles continue for the Golden Tornadoes, and will likely linger for the next few weeks after tonight.
Prediction: Whiteville 35, Farimont 14
Red Springs (3-2) at East Columbus (0-5)
That 2-0 start for Red Springs seems like a distant memory for the Red Devils that have taken on South Columbus and East Bladen in the first three weeks of the conference play. Don’t worry Red Devils, it get a little easier from here on out.
Going up against an offense that seems to resist finding the end zone, the Red Devils have no problem in the swamp as Jerome Bass and the defense have a field day against the Gators.
Prediction: Red Springs 40, East Columbus 0
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.