LUMBERTON — Right now, stacking up five of the six Robeson County teams is pretty easy with just one game under their belts, but picking among the three winners for the top spot in the first weekly power rankings was tough.
Fairmont, Purnell Swett and Red Springs each opened the seasons in the winning column, with the Rams and the Red Devils defense flexing their muscles in season-opening victories by wide margins.
Lumberton and St. Pauls both suffered blowout losses at home, and South Robeson will be withheld from this week’s rankings with its bye week being this past Friday.
1. Purnell Swett
When looking at its win over Pine Forest, its easy to look at the level the Purnell Swett offense played with 48 points to open the season, but its defense can’t be overlooked. With how the defense played in the Battle of the Carolinas against West Brunswick, where it couldn’t slow down its opponents rushing attack, the defensive performance the Rams had against Pine Forest was impressive by holding the Trojans to two touchdowns and having a defensive score late in the game. The offense showed its experience with how well it moved the ball and lit up the scoreboard.
2. Red Springs
With its first shutout since Nov. 6, 2015, the Red Devils defense showed to be up to the billing with its returning core, and the addition of a few new faces added in holding South Brunswick scoreless. To go along with its stalwart defense, the young offense got off to a good start. Monte’ Wilkerson played a big part on both sides of the ball with an interception and a pair of receiving touchdowns in his first career football game.
With all the questions coming in about how Fairmont’s offense would fare with its new personnel in a new system, those questions were answered against Douglas Byrd. Derrick Arnette had three touchdown passes and no turnovers, with two of the scores going to Jordan Waters. Fairmont now gets a bye week to continue to tweak a few pieces of its game around, even though it scored touchdowns on offense and defense in the win.
4. St. Pauls
Friday’s game against E.E. Smith was a game of two halves for the Bulldogs. Its offense had moments of brilliance, and some error-filled moments, against the size and athleticism of the Golden Bulls. In doing so, the viability of Marqueise Coleman’s as the Bulldogs’ premier back was proven. St. Pauls’ defense held tight for the first half, allowing two touchdowns, but the wheels fell off in the second half with several big plays that could’ve been avoided with initial tackles being made.
Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong on Friday for the Pirates. Both sides of the ball struggled against a talented Dillon squad. The Pirates defense held strong in the first, third and fourth quarters by keeping the Wildcats to one touchdown in each of those periods, but costly turnovers and big plays aided Dillon in the second quarter. It wasn’t until after halftime Lumberton manufactured a first down and it had under 50 yards of total offense for the game.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.