LUMBERTON — With only one home game in Robeson County this week, expect another down week for teams, like last week’s 2-4 record.
Well that and the fact that the road team in all five games this week seem to be a little outmatched against their opponents, except in one game. The teams playing this week on the road are a combined 5-7 away from home. For Lumberton, this is just the second week away from home as it starts a three game road stretch, and closes with four road games in five weeks.
Teams like Fairmont, Purnell Swett, South Robeson and St. Pauls will be ready to get this week over with home games coming up next week. There seem to be no place like home for those teams.
Through seven weeks, my picks record is 30-4 after going 5-1 last week. I was stabbed in the back by the Pirates last week to miss out on a perfect week.
South Robeson (2-4) at Red Springs (4-2)
I’ve caught flack for what I have said about the South Robeson backfield, but I stand by it. To set the record straight, the Mustangs have the best backfield in the county, but Red Springs has the best running back. Red Springs’ Lee McLean comes in 173 yards shy of 1,000 yards and could easily break that mark against South Robeson. South Robeson’s Jamearos McLeod has scored in every game this year and looks to keep that streak in tact.
With two teams that like to run the ball and eat the clock, wasted drives and turnovers could prove costly in this game. But to beat a running team, you need a defense to stop it. That is what Red Springs has with Jerome Bass and the rest of the Red Devils that will corral the Mustangs run game this week.
Prediction: Red Springs 40, South Robeson 28
St. Pauls (3-3) at West Columbus (0-6)
Last year, this was an ugly game where the Vikings hung around after St. Pauls came in and overlooked its opponents. The Bulldogs have no room to overlook anybody at this point in the year after taking a beating last week to South Columbus, A beating that West Columbus suffers week in and week out so starting strong and staying strong has to be a part of the mentality this week.
The Bulldogs get back on track in this one and build much-needed confidence going into East Bladen next week. The real question is whether new or old Noah Wheeler will show up for tonight and the rest of the season. He’s a driving force for the team and his struggles led to bad play last week from the rest of the team.
Prediction: St. Pauls 49, West Columbus 0
Purnell Swett (3-3) at Pinecrest (3-3)
Both of these teams were the last teams in the Sandhills Athletic Conference to lose in non-conference play, and their starts to conference play have been the opposite of the starts to the season. When you play the likes of Richmond, Scotland and Seventy-First, that is to be expected with 0-2 records for both in the new league.
While the Rams have taken their lumps in recent weeks, their offense will see the light this week for the first time against a first-team defense. Pinecrest may likely pull away late for a close win against the Rams, but this will be a step forward for Purnell Swett with Jack Britt, Hoke and Lumberton ahead.
Predicition: Pincrest 28, Purnell Swett 24
Lumberton (2-4) at Seventy-First (5-1)
Last year the Falcons rushed for over 600 yards on the ground against Lumberton, but don’t expect that much this time around. The Pirates run defense has shown improvements this year, but Seventy-First is off to a hot start in conference play and will still find success on the ground, just not like last year.
Running the ball with Braylan Grice has worked in the past two weeks, but against one of the teams that has a Sandhills Athletic Conference title in their sights, it won’t be enough to come away with a win for Lumberton.
Prediction: Seventy-First 56, Lumberton 14
Fairmont (3-3) at East Bladen (5-1)
Back in the early part of the season, it looked like Fairmont had figured things out as far as run defense, but those thoughts have proven to be wrong in recent weeks. Fairmont’s struggles stopping the run game continues this week going up against the strong offensive front of East Bladen that has been tough to stop by everyone except for Whiteville and South Columbus.
Along with its offensive strength, the Eagles have been stingy on defense and that’s not a good sign for the Golden Tornadoes that are averaging 15 points per game in their last two contests.
Prediction: East Bladen 52, Fairmont 6
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.