LUMBERTON — The playoff push is on for several Robeson County football teams this week. For some, the push they are feeling isn’t for the playoffs, but rather being squished by opponents in their conference.
St. Pauls and Red Springs have to win to keep the dream alive, Fairmont has to win out and hope for a miracle and Lumberton and Purnell Swett’s push is more of suffocation from the competition. South Robeson is set in stone and continues its tough march to the postseason this week.
Through 10 weeks, my picks record is 45-5 after going 5-1 last week. The lone loss came picking Fairmont over Red Springs.
St. Pauls (5-4) at Whiteville (8-1)
These last two weeks carry a lot of weight for St. Pauls as they hope to make the state playoffs, but injuries could play a big factor as they head to Whiteville. With several players out or hampered by injuries, the “next man up” mantra set up by the Bulldogs will be enough to hang around with the Wolfpack, but the talent will most of the time come out on top.
The one thing that the Bulldogs have going for them is the possibility of this being a trap game for Whiteville with undefeated South Columbus next week. Then again, the same could be said for St. Pauls with Red Springs up next.
Prediction: Whiteville 38, St. Pauls 24
West Columbus (0-9) at Red Springs (6-3)
This game is sandwiched between two rivalry games for the Red Devils so it can be seen as a letdown or a trap game for the team with the best record in the county. It is the best record in Robeson County going up against the worst in the Three Rivers Conference, and Red Springs can’t overlook the Vikings or they could hang around.
The U.S. Army Golden Knight parachute team will parachute onto the field pregame, and I’ll be riding alongside those soldiers before they jump out of the aircraft, and the Vikings have as much of a chance of winning as me getting to jump out of the plane with the Golden Knights, none. But I will enjoy the view from above though.
Prediction: Red Springs 36, West Columbus 0
Scotland (7-1) at Lumberton (2-7)
The second half of the Zamir White tour in Robeson County comes tonight as he and the Sandhills Athletic Conference-leading Scots come to take on Lumberton. While the Pirates, who have more uniform options than wins this season, have put up numbers against Pinecrest and Richmond in the past two weeks, that won’t be as easy this week.
This is arguably one of the better running game matchups of the season in the conference, even though Lumberton’s Braylan Grice is a quarterback, but the top running back in the nation, and Scots should have an early night in this one.
Prediction: Scotland 56, Lumberton 35
Purnell Swett (3-6) at Hoke (0-9)
These two teams have been picked on and bullied in conference play, and now the bullied look to be the bullies on each other in the meeting of the only two teams without a win in the Sandhills Athletic Conference. Both teams have the athletes, but have been outnumbered in that category against their opponents this season. Now the field is level and it will come down to who cuts out the turnovers.
I should just have the plane let me out in Raeford for my final destination on Friday to cover this game, but I think the only commuting option for me will be taking Raeford Road out of Fayetteville and hopefully not miss too much of the Rams’ last win of the season.
Prediction: Purnell Swett 42, Hoke 30
East Bladen (8-1) at South Robeson (3-6)
The Eagles come in on a roll, while South Robeson has struggled to find consistency. If the Mustangs’ last game was any indicator of how this game will go, it could get ugly quick once again with East Bladen’s strength and running style that is the same as South Columbus, and the Mustangs for that matter.
The Eagles will easily get through the next two games to set themselves up for either a tie for first place in the conference or second place outright, all depending on if Whiteville defeats South Columbus or not.
Predicition: East Bladen 49, South Robeson 12
Fairmont (3-6) at East Columbus (0-9)
After the stretch that the Golden Tornadoes have been through, this game is a good sight for the weary players that have suffered through heartbreak and a lopsided loss in recent weeks. This week the depleted roster of East Columbus hosts Fairmont and this is the game that means the tough times are over.
Fairmont easily wins this game, and the only “if” in this game is whether there will be enough players for the Gators to dress and play a game. Last week they were forced to forfeit to East Bladen, and a loss would’ve come either way. The same goes this week for East Columbus
Prediction: Fairmont 44, East Columbus 0 — if the teams get to play.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.