LUMBERTON — All the buildup from the offseason has reached its boiling point, and this Friday is when everything starts to matter.
From the preseason coaches polls, to the top 15 player rankings, all has been built up without any basis. But before the season starts, here’s one last prognostication, comes in the form of the Robeson County power rankings that are based on nothing but speculation on what teams have coming back and how they finished last year.
1. Red Springs
The Red Devils were the cream of the crop in Robeson County football last year with the best record and some of the best players. While some of those key pieces have left, the fact still remains that Red Springs’ roster is still loaded. A team that was sophomore heavy last year now is a year wiser and stronger.
Players that made themselves known last year like Lee McLean, Denym McKeithan, Jayshawn Carthen and Erney Revels now take over for the ones that have graduated. This team might not have the likes of a Jerome Bass, but collectively has the ceiling to be a better team.
2. St. Pauls
Even with a coaching change late in the summer, St. Pauls is still a force to be reckoned with. The young weapons this team has on offense, matched with a defense that has the pieces to show its better this season than last is a good combination to have. The trenches are where the Bulldogs have to grow up the quickest to help clear the way for Marqueise Coleman, a potential 1,500-yard back this year, on offense, and slow down Wing-T teams on the other side.
3. Purnell Swett
The most question marks are up in the air for the Rams this season. How will the offense operate with so many starter gone? What about the same for the defense? How will the offense get the ball in the hands of its top playmaker? Through all the questions, Purnell Swett is looking to prove that last year’s playoff appearance wasn’t a fluke. One thing helping this team is an experienced offensive line for new faces in the backfield. With that, Chandler Brayboy should get his touches.
There’s no doubt that Fairmont has the athletes to compete with the best teams it faces, that was evident last season against the juggernauts of the Three Rivers Conference. This team has a lot of the same players, so it will need to prove a new year means a new storm of Golden Tornadoes.
The leadership of the seniors like Jordan Waters and Jayvon Morris don’t want the disaster that was missing the playoffs last year to repeat itself, but changes will have to be bought in by the rest to see a difference in the wins and losses column.
A coaching change is tough to get acclimated to in the first season, that’s what makes the Pirates’ season look so tough heading in. A 2-9 record last season should be enough motivation for a team that has one of, if not the most, talented rosters in the county. Playing against the schedule Lumberton has will humble many teams. With it being the final act for several all-county players like Braylon Grice, Kwashek Breeden and Hunter Brooks, the expectations of more than two wins are there, and are well within reach.
6. South Robeson
With the longest consecutive playoff streak among any team in Robeson County, the Mustangs should first set their sights on claiming the 1A portion of the Three Rivers title and then make sure to finish off the close games they let slip out of their hands last season to the likes of Fairmont and Red Springs. With its top rusher Jamearos McLeod out for non-conference play, South Robeson can use that time to find another weapon in its run game to help itself out after losing its leading rusher from a year ago.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.