LUMBERTON — The first week might’ve had some clear-cut games to pick, but this week’s a little different.
My perfect record built from the five games last week might be in jeopardy with several games where the teams are a little more evenly matched than last week, but from the fans perspective that should be enticing.
With all but one game being on the road, the experience of playing away from the friendly confines of home will do good for Red Springs and South Robeson, while the experience of Purnell Swett and Lumberton will be tested. The test for the two Sandhills Athletic Conference schools will be much needed for when conference play opens up.
Lumberton (0-1) at Westover (0-1)
After getting shutout in the first games of the season, both teams don’t want to slip to 0-2 and this game will come down to who will make the most of their chances. Lumberton was held in check with under 50 yards of total offense against Dillon, and Westover lost against cross-town rival Seventy-First in a fairly close contest.
Lumberton’s defense will need to slow down Westover on the ground with its playmakers, a task much easier this week than last. The talent level difference between Lumberton and Seventy-First will show as the Pirates struggle on the road to control the line of scrimmage.
Prediction: Westover 29, Lumberton 21
Union Pines (0-1) at St. Pauls (0-1)
Both teams looking to rebound after home losses to open the season, but home sweet home for a second week against a more evenly-match opponent will do well for the Bulldogs. Both teams had their costly turnovers and the turnover battle could decide how this one unfolds.
The main area that St. Pauls can exploit the Vikings is with the run, an aspect of its offense that showed no problem with against E.E. Smith. Union Pines allowed East Montgomery’s Courtney McKinney to rush for 266 yards and four touchdowns, and Marqueise Coleman and the Bulldogs’ offensive line should be licking their chops trying to do much of the same.
Prediction: St. Pauls 32, Union Pines 24
Purnell Swett (1-0) at Ashley (1-0)
This game will be an offensive onslaught with two offenses that know how to score, evident from what they did last week. In the win over Southern Wayne, the Screaming Eagles scored touchdowns in all three facets of the game. So, a close eye in the special teams will be a key factor for Purnell Swett to make sure the game is not one or lost in the kicking game, after its defense goes to work to get the ball back to its offense.
Last year a road game like this would be a problem for the inexperienced Rams, but this beach trip should be fun in the sun, and then under the stadium lights, for Purnell Swett as it improves to 2-0 for the first time since 2011.
Prediction: Purnell Swett 49, Ashley 41
Red Springs (1-0) at Southern Vance (1-0)
Hitting the road will be a test for Red Springs’ young offense, and also a little tougher than South Brunswick was talent wise. After finding a rhythm last week on offense, the defense started taking advantage of the Cougars struggling to pass the ball. Expect much of the same in this one.
A week of experience for the young players and newcomers from last week will show its worth this week, and this road game will be another learning experience. Making sure the bus ride doesn’t bleed over into the energy level on the field will be important to pay attention to, but should not be enough to derail Red Springs.
Prediction: Red Springs 26, Southern Vance 8
Union (0-1) at South Robeson (0-0)
Expect first game struggles for South Robeson taking on Union, as the Spartans have already seen time under the lights. It will be a near mirror image for both offenses, except for the fact that South Robeson has added more passing to its playbook. That part of the offense will have its bumps in the Mustangs first time going against another team of any fashion this summer.
Low numbers will hurt South Robeson with cramps and fatigue, leading to a lopsided loss to open the season.
Prediction: Union 43, South Robeson 12
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.