LUMBERTON — Wins tonight for four Robeson County teams would mean the first wins ever, or the first wins over their opponents in several years.
Wins of any sort have been hard to come by with the county’s teams going a combined 3-8 in the last two weeks, with one of those games including an in-county matchup. But wins for Lumberton and Red Springs would be a first in a while. The Red Devils haven’t beat Fairmont since 2012, and Lumberton’s winless streak against Richmond goes a little further back, to 1986. Purnell Swett has never beat Seventy-First, and South Robeson can say the same about South Columbus.
Wins this week in those games would be much-needed for those programs in those series, but also for the county that has hit a dry spell as of late.
Through nine weeks, my picks record is 41-4 after going 6-0 last week.
Red Springs (5-3) at Fairmont (3-5)
This game, like the last two meetings should be a classic. No matter if these two schools meet in football, basketball or checkers it’s competitive and it carries a lot of emotion. And just like there is emotion around the matchup in recent years, Fairmont always seems to come out on top and that should be the same result tonight.
The Fairmont team that played against Whiteville and St. Pauls would struggle against Red Springs, but the team that has emerged the last two weeks against the two best teams in the Three Rivers Conference looks like the team the Golden Tornadoes have fielded the two years prior.
Prediction: Fairmont 38, Red Springs 31
West Bladen (4-4) at St. Pauls (4-4)
Much like Fairmont, the way the St. Pauls hung around with East Bladen looks like the Bulldogs have turned things around, again. The youth from St. Pauls has had eight games to get acclimated and last week it showed falling short in the fourth quarter against the Eagles.
West Bladen has struggled against conference competition, and were unable to hold onto the lead against South Robeson. St. Pauls’ defense will keep B.J. Drake quiet running the ball for the Knights and lead the way to a win to get the Bulldogs back above .500.
Prediction: St. Pauls 35, West Bladen 14
Lumberton (2-6) at Richmond (5-3)
Both teams have had a rough few weeks to say the least. Richmond rebounded from its 21-point loss to Jack Britt with a blowout win over Hoke. Lumberton did show fight against Pinecrest, but will need that performance and then some against the Raiders.
Lumberton got its only win over Richmond in 1986, which was the same year that hip-hop artist Drake was born. The Pirates’ season can be described by one of Drake’s lyrics as they are “runnin’ through the 6 with my woes.” And those woes will continue against the Raiders.
Prediction: Richmond 49, Lumberton 28
South Robeson (3-5) at South Columbus (8-0)
Both teams know each other’s offense running the Wing-T so the defenses will know what to expect.
Stopping it will be a different story. South Columbus has been slowed down, but has yet to be stopped by anyone and the Stallions will be too much to handle for the small Mustang roster.
The Mustangs have shown no fear this year going up teams bigger and more talented than they were, and tonight should be no different. The main difference for South Robeson competing with the Stallions will be their ability to complete drives and avoid the turnovers, which will be hard to do against a team that has lost three games total the last two seasons.
Prediction: South Columbus 35, South Robeson 14
Purnell Swett (3-5) at Seventy-First (6-2)
The timing for the Rams to take on Seventy-First isn’t the best. The Falcons, fresh off their worst defeat of the year to Scotland have been given a jolt that should refocus the team that is capable of putting up numbers in bunches.
They did score 35 against the Scots, after all. Purnell Swett’s biggest challenge will be to keep Seventy-First from putting the school’s number up twice on the scoreboard.
The Rams went through their tough stretch of games, and this game is just another tough game on a schedule where there is little relief.
Predicition: Seventy-First 56, Purnell Swett 13
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.