FAIRMONT — A winless season in 2017 for Douglas Byrd could be a blessing in disguise in 2018.
Many teams may look at the 0-11 record and look down on their opponents, and Fairmont looks to avoid being one of those teams on Friday as it opens the season at home against the Eagles. Fairmont had a tendency last season to play up or down to the level of its opponents, and will have a chance to show that it has grown up from that tendency on Friday.
Friday is the first game of the season for most high school team and five of the six teams in the county are in action in week one. South Robeson has its bye in the first week of the season, and Fairmont is the only team at home.
The first game marks the beginning of the season for Fairmont, and the beginning of a journey to redeem itself from a 2017 season where it missed the playoffs.
“My goal this year is to make it to the playoffs. We didn’t make it last year so that made us mad and we want to make it far in the playoffs this year,” senior wide receiver Jordan Waters said. “Last year was my first year not making the playoffs and I didn’t like ending the season early.”
Waters and senior Jayvon Morris have been a guiding light for the team this summer in getting mentally prepared for the season. Waters committed to Duke back in April and Morris was the wide receiver opposite of Waters last season, but has moved to take over the quarterback duties.
Fairmont’s only scrimmage in Robeson County for the public to see came at the Battle of the Carolinas where the Golden Tornadoes were shutout in a 16-0 loss to their neighbors from Lake View.
Second-year head coach Kevin Inman said that was a learning experience for his team that features a host of younger or first-year players.
“We ran good routes, we did fundamental stuff well,” Inman said. “The main things we’ve got to improve on are staying engaged on the offensive line and giving our quarterbacks time. We’ve got young quarterbacks who aren’t used to staying in the pocket. We need to make them feel comfortable.”
Last season, Fairmont topped Douglas Byrd 26-15 in Fayetteville. Jordan Waters hauled in two touchdowns in the win.
Lumberton at Dillon
The Kelly Williamson era in Lumberton begins as he takes on his cousin across the border in South Carolina. Williamson and Dillon coach Jackie Hayes share both a family bond and a bond on the football sidelines, and the game features his alma mater taking on a school where he served as an assistant. Last year, Dillon held the Pirates’ offense in check courtesy of a 42-0 win at Lumberton before going on to win the SCHSL Class AAA state title last year.
Purnell Swett at Pine Forest
Purnell Swett and its new look team travel to Pine Forest to open the season for the eighth straight season. The Rams lost most of their offensive starters and a majority of its starters on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, both units worked to perfection in a 48-15 win over the Trojans. Chandler Brayboy hauled in three touchdowns in the victory and had 167 yards through the air as well.
Red Springs at South Brunswick
The successful season that the Red Devils had last year got off on the right foot with a 33-0 win at home to South Brunswick. Denym McKeithan passed for three touchdowns against the Cougars, while Lee McLee rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown.
St. Pauls at E.E. Smith
A road game against a tough non-conference opponent in E.E. Smith is how the Bulldogs open the season and the interim tenure of Mike Setzer as coach. While last year’s meeting was a lopsided 43-18 decision in favor of the Golden Bulls, St. Pauls running back Marqueise Coleman rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown in his varsity debut. The lone score came on a 99-yard touchdown run.