LUMBERTON — Like a game of musical chairs, this week’s power rankings had changes all around with no teams staying in the same position they were last week.
In a bad Friday for Robeson County teams on Friday with two of the six winning, St. Pauls and Lumberton improved their position this week with wins. Fairmont, the victim of the Bulldog’s fourth straight win, along with Red Springs and South Robeson fell in the rankings with their losses.
Now midway through the season, here’s how the teams stack up.
1. St. Pauls
To be the best, you have to beat the best, and that’s what the Bulldogs did last week against Fairmont. The Golden Tornadoes were No. 1 and St. Pauls was No. 4, but a 28-14 win with an impressive second half performance catapulted the Bulldogs to the top spot.
After a slow start to the season, St. Pauls, and senior quarterback Noah Wheeler, have rebounded well from an 0-2 start with four straight wins in Three Rivers Conference play. Along with being the top team in these rankings, St. Pauls is also on top of the Three Rivers standings with South Columbus and both are set for a collision course Friday.
2. Purnell Swett
In its loss, Purnell Swett was able to do something it hadn’t done in recent history — put up points against Richmond. A week after creating virtually no offense against the Hoggard starting defense, the Rams were able to manufacture points, 34 to be exact, in the loss to show that its offense is capable of creating drives. The 34 points is the third most the Rams have scored on the Raiders, after scoring 41 in 2011 and 36 in 2009.
The Rams inch up to No. 2 this week after losses by the two teams ahead of them in the rankings last week. With Scotland, Pinecrest and Seventy-First still ahead, the Rams are in the eye of the theoretical storm of their season.
In what seemed to be a mirror image of the loss to Ashley, the Golden Tornadoes regressed in the loss to St. Pauls in the first leg of a five-week stint that will challenge them. With what’s ahead for Fairmont, its stock looks like it might plummet from here on out if the offense can’t generate more points and less turnovers. The loss drops Fairmont from the top rung on the power rankings ladder.
After a first half that was decent behind two forced fumbles and 14 points, things went south as the game wore on and the second half took its toll on Fairmont. The defense must improve its conditioning going forward with a thin roster that doesn’t bode well when going up against teams that can keep the Golden Tornadoes offense off the field.
4. Red Springs
While Fairmont has more tough games ahead, Red Springs has already taken on two of the top teams predicted in the conference with blowout losses against East Bladen and South Columbus, and takes on some of the bottom-feeders in the conference over the next five weeks. Signs of a rise for the Red Devils from here seem likely with who they have going forward.
The Eagles controlled the game in every aspect against Red Springs on Friday, and the last three weeks have given it good things to build off of with mostly in-county teams left.
The Pirates are out of the basement, but didn’t go too far this week after their win to start conference play against Hoke. The task of beating the Bucks was expected with how they had played on defense this year, but we will see this week when Jack Britt comes to town if Lumberton is ready to go up any higher in the rankings.
Braylan Grice and the Lumberton offense put up a season-high 42 points as it got its second win in a row.
6. South Robeson
Things got out of hand in a hurry at Whiteville as the Mustangs lost in a blowout on the road. Like it did in the early losses, South Robeson struggled, but Jamearos McLeod was the one bright spot with his seventh touchdown of the season.
A chance to bounce back comes this week with a winnable game against West Bladen at home.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.