Ranked first and second in the area power poll throughout the season, Robeson County’s two most likeliest football teams — Red Springs and St. Pauls — are still alive in their quest toward capturing the area’s first pigskin state championship since 1975.
But that may end tonight for both against a pair of dangerous adversaries on a recent roll.
The Red Devils (9-3) host sixth-seeded Pender, a squad backed with momentum following an upset first-round win at Wallace-Rose Hill despite finishing 5-5 in the regular season. The Bulldogs (9-3) travel to Reidsville, a program that’s deep on talent and oozes tradition with an exceptional record at home.
St. Pauls will be tested by a defense giving up less than two touchdowns per contest and an offense dedicated to the run. Red Springs, winners of six straight games, haven’t been in a competitive battle since East Columbus, something that could come back to haunt the Red Devils.
“We’ll definitely have to play better than we did last week to move on, that’s for sure,” St. Pauls coach Trey Sasser said earlier this week.
Red Springs coach George Coltharp added: “We aren’t taking anyone lightly, just trying to see another Monday.”
In the opening round, the Bulldogs overcame four turnovers to clip Northwood while Red Springs had its way offensively at the Inferno. For both Three Rivers Conference representatives to play another week, they’ll have to execute with precision this evening and hope the Patriots and Rams make a few mistakes of their own.
Week 12 record: 4-0; Overall 48-11
Another perfect week, this time in the first round of the playoffs. Two correct selections tonight gives me an even 50 for this season. I’ll take that.
Pender (6-5) at Red Springs (9-3)
On paper, these two don’t stack up very well considering Red springs utilizes an offense Pender hasn’t seen much of this season. In comparison, the Red Devils excel at stopping the run and have faced a number of option-based attacks prior to the playoffs. Pender’s best shot is tackling well in space and keeping the Blake Greene-led Air Raid off the field. Offensively, getting the tough yards is a must against a front seven that’s transformed midseason into one of the 1AA’s best. With a win, the Red Devils solidify a second consecutive 10-win season, quite an accomplishment for the turnaround made by Coltharp and his staff.
Red Springs 42, Pender 20
St. Pauls (9-3) at Reidsville (10-2)
St. Pauls is up against its toughest game of the season tonight but the Bulldogs have enough playmakers on offense to win. Reidsville hasn’t faced a running back as big as Shawn Williams this season and haven’t defended the pass well in recent weeks. That plays into the hands of Scott Barbour and the Bulldogs’ no-huddle as they try and exploit mismatches in the spread. With that being said, the Rams should be able to move it with success on the ground, limiting St. Pauls’ number of possessions. An upset’s possible, but I’d be more willing to take the Bulldogs if they were playing in Robeson County. It’ll take a complete game on offense, defense and special teams for St. Pauls to be playing next week.
Reidsville 28, St. Pauls 14