Richmond (6-0, 1-0) at Purnell Swett (2-4, 0-1)
Coaches: RS — Paul Hoggard; PS — Mark Heil.
Recent history: Rams fans will never forget last season’s 42-41 loss in Rockingham during which a late two-point conversion carry from Juan Jones was ruled no good. End zone footage later revealed Jones had indeed crossed the goal line.
What to watch: How will Swett’s defense respond to an offense averaging 49.6 points per game? The Raiders have more talent at nearly every position, unlike last season when the Rams had a handful of playmakers on offense that kept Swett in the game. Richmond pounded previously unbeaten Hoke County last week, a year after the Bucks recorded their first-ever win over the Raiders. Richmond’s averaging a jaw-dropping 9.8 yards per carry as a team. Swett fell into an early rut in Laurinburg and never recovered, falling 42-0 at Scotland. Heil wants to see his team play competitive this week and show a resiliency that hasn’t been there this season.
Keep an eye on: Richmond junior quarterback Brent Flowers has steadily improved during his second full season as Richmond’s signal caller and has plenty of options to deliver the football to in space.
Hoke County (6-1, 0-1) at Lumberton (4-2, 0-1)
Coaches: HC — Milton Butts; LHS — Mike Brill.
Recent history: The Pirates have won each of the last three meetings by an average of 14.3 points per game. Two years ago, Hoke tailback Detrez Newsome gashed the Pirates for nearly 250 yards rushing in a 21-17 loss at Lumberton.
What to watch: Every game in the Southeastern Conference is big, especially the ones that don’t involve perennial favorites Richmond and Scotland. Both the Bucks and Pirates lost their league openers on the road last week and each need a win to remain in this one to remain in contention for a third-place finish. Offenses for both teams look to get back on track after being held well below their averages last week. Lumberton was shut out for the second time this season and Hoke was held to a season-low 14 points. Brill was happy with his team’s “fight” in the fourth quarter despite trailing by three touchdowns at Pinecrest. He wants another emotional outing from his players at home Friday.
Keep an eye on: Newsome, Hoke’s senior tailback who was held under 100 yards for the first time this season last week at Richmond.
Red Springs (4-3, 1-0) at East Columbus (4-2, 1-0)
Coaches: RS — George Coltharp; EC — Toby Kasell.
Recent history: The Red Devils won a shootout last season, 47-32. The Gators, however, have shut out Red Springs twice since 2007.
What to watch: There was two games circled on Red Springs’ Three Rivers slate prior to the season and this is one of them. For the Red Devils to capture a conference championship and the league’s No. 1 seed, they must win Friday in Lake Waccamaw. Red Springs has faced a number of run-heavy teams already this season and it’ll have to stack the box again on the road. East Columbus rushed for 259 yards in last week’s win over West Columbus led by three touchdowns from Nick McClure. The Gators rarely throw and rely on a defense that ranks amongst the best in the state in several categories.
Keep an eye on: Ricky Ratliff, one of the Gators’ best players on offense, has performed well since his return from injuries sustained in a pre-season car accident.
West Columbus (3-4, 0-1) at Fairmont (4-3, 1-0)
Coaches: WC — Mark Little; FMT — James Atkinson.
Recent history: The Vikings are the last team to beat Fairmont in Three Rivers play, accomplishing the feat in 2009 with a 22-8 victory.
What to watch: Tragedy struck West Columbus last week after football player Josh Powell was struck by a car and killed after school. Vikings coach Mark Little said it was difficult on his team to play the conference opener at East Columbus a few days later and that they are still coming to grips with what happened. Fairmont looks to continue its 2.5-year winning streak in Three Rivers play on homecoming. The Golden Tornadoes’ passing game under Jarrod Neal seems to have found its footing in recent weeks and the play of dual running backs Derrick Baker and Quentin Walker provides an equal balance on the ground.
Keep an eye on: West Columbus senior running back Savon Dawson has scored a team-leading five touchdowns and ranks second in rushing behind Rostin Bromel with 360 yards.
South Robeson (2-4, 0-1) at St. Pauls (5-2, 1-0)
Coaches: SR — Stephen Roberson; STP — Trey Sasser.
Recent history: St. Pauls has won six straight games in the series. Three of the last four have been decided by a touchdown or less.
What to watch: St. Pauls is hoping to shake off the rust and get back to dominating the opposition with its no-huddle approach on offense. Last week, the Bulldogs were knocked off course at Red Springs by extensive pressure from the Red Devils’ front seven. South Robeson eyes an elusive conference win that first-year coach Stephen Roberson predicted would come at some point this season. The Mustangs, on average, give up 20.6 points per game. The Bulldogs come in averaging just over 50 points per outing.
Keep an eye on: Kane Banner, St. Pauls’ senior quarterback who completed just 4-of-12 passes last week with an interception. Expect solid numbers from the dual-threat against a secondary that gave up four touchdowns through the air in a loss to Fairmont.