LUMBERTON — It seems like it was just yesterday the season started and all the teams had high hopes. For some, those hopes are still alive and will be put to the test this week in the regular season finale.
We enter rivalry week this Friday, but before we do that, let’s stack up the teams as far as how they have looked in recent weeks with the Robeson County power rankings after a 3-3 week from the teams. This was the first week since Week 4 where there were three wins among Robeson County teams.
Red Springs and Purnell Swett two winners that made jumps this week.
1. Red Springs
With the best record in Robeson County and win total that none of the other five teams will be able to reach, the Red Devils take the jump to the top spot for the third time this season. With one game left against St. Pauls, a win would help build up their claim for a higher playoff seed.
The rushing attack once again took over in the win over West Columbus with Lee McLean and Jerome Bass each finding the end zone twice. The defense also pitched its second shutout of the year and comes in with momentum ahead of the meeting with the Bulldogs.
2. St. Pauls
A very lopsided loss to Whiteville dropped the Bulldogs out of the top spot in the rankings to second, setting up the meeting of Nos. 1 and 2 in the rankings on Friday in St. Pauls. Sitting at 5-5, the Bulldogs have to take care of business to get to the playoffs with a 5-6 record not a guarantee to get in.
Whiteville kept the St. Pauls offense in check with just two touchdowns coming from Noah Wheeler. The senior quarterback will be instrumental in how the game against Red Springs goes.
3. Purnell Swett
The Rams got their first win in seven weeks over Hoke, which was also their first conference win of the season. After finding themselves in the bottom spot of the power rankings last week, Purnell Swett takes the jump up to third ahead of its meeting with Lumberton to decide who takes sixth place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference.
The playoffs are still in sight of the Rams, despite a 4-6 record and sitting in 48th according to the MaxPreps rankings that will pick the playoff seeding for 48 4-A teams. Luke Oxendine and the offense had a productive first half behind three touchdowns from the senior.
Like almost everyone has this season, the Pirates took a bad loss to Scotland and now have a chance to take down Purnell and claim sixth place in the conference and spoil their rival’s hopes at the playoffs. Lumberton jumps from fourth to fifth in the rankings this week.
Braylan Grice struggled for the Pirates going 4-for-18 passing with an interception and only four yards rushing. With the centerpiece of the offense held in check, the Pirates’ hands were tied behind their back against Scotland. That cannot happen if Lumberton wants to close the season and beat its rival.
If there was ever an example of a bad win, the Golden Tornadoes 12-point victory over winless East Columbus was it. Fairmont entered the game on a five-game losing streak, coming off its worst offensive game, scoring wise, of the season, and handed the Gators their closest loss of the season.
Fairmont takes on South Robeson and is currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture. A convincing win over South Robeson could state the claim of sneaking it in to the playoffs.
6. South Robeson
The playoffs are already in hand for South Robeson, but it is limping to the finish line playing some of the Three Rivers Conference’s best teams the last two weeks. After sitting in the top spot a few weeks ago, the Mustangs fall to the cellar after two large-margin losses and now welcome Fairmont this week.
Jamearos McLeod and Darrius Brown scored in the early goings against East Bladen as the Mustangs kept it close before the Eagles ran away with the contest.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.