LUMBERTON — Everyone but South Robeson can throw away the excuse of the first-game jitters for their performances this week as four teams play their second game of the season.
Three teams come home, Purnell Swett, Lumberton and Red Springs, while St. Pauls closes out non-conference play with its second road game, but it might be comfortable away from home after the win at E.E. Smith last week.
After Week 1, I’m 2-3, a record I would like to forget. My mentality is that of the likes Purnell Swett, Lumberton and Fairmont this week after opening losses to their seasons, there’s still time to turn it around.
Westover (0-1) at Lumberton (0-1)
Watching the last few minutes of this game last year in Fayetteville felt surreal. A first down here, a defensive stop there or a penalty not occurring in another place, and the Pirates take that contest, and their season could’ve had a little different output from there. Quarterback Braylan Grice said this week it wasn’t one specific play that was the difference, but a collective group of bigger mistakes.
Not to dwell in the past, but there is a sense of revenge in the Pirates this week after that loss. That, coupled with a better moving offense and experience sets up well for Lumberton to win its home opener, and give Kelly Williamson win No. 1 at his alma mater, while leaving Ernest King still in search of his first win at his.
Lumberton 28, Westover 22
Vance County (0-1) at Red Springs (1-0)
There is a sense of mystery for the Red Devils in this matchup, taking on a first-year school, which seemingly is an all-county crew of the best football players in Vance County, with the consolidation of Northern Vance and Southern Vance. Southern Vance fell victim to the Red Devils last year, before finishing the season 6-5. Northern Vance went 2-9.
Taking on the best of Vance County shouldn’t be a problem for the Red Devils after its balanced offense, and their “scrappy” defense eased into the season last week with a 26-point win. Plus, being at home was an advantage for the Red Devils last season with a 4-1 record. That mark goes to 1-0 after Friday night.
Red Springs 36, Vance County 18
St. Pauls (1-0) at Union Pines (1-0)
St. Pauls attempts to improve to 2-0 for the first time since most of the players were in diapers or learning to walk. 2004 was the last time the Bulldogs were able to match that record in Mike Setzer’s first year at the program, now in an interim basis, his team has a tough hurdle ahead of it. Union Pines’ lead back, junior Tyreek McCoy, rushed for 276 yards and four touchdowns last week. He will have to be slowed down in order for St. Pauls to stay undefeated.
The Bulldogs showed to be up to stopping the run last week, holding E.E. Smith to 110 yards total, while forcing five turnovers. That defense has to show up again, and tighten up its pass defense to keep the Vikings from running away with this game that is a toss-up.
Union Pines 34, St. Pauls 30
Ashley (1-0) at Purnell Swett (0-1)
A quiet offensive night with 156 yards is all that the Rams had to show from last week’s loss at Pine Forest. The whole “Where’s Chandler Brayboy?” plan the Rams put in to move him around the formation was solved by the Trojans as they held the Purnell Swett senior receiver to 56 yards, 40 of which came on the ground. And much of that came on Brayboy’s 26-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
Returning home might be the remedy for the Rams this week, taking on Ashley that rushed for 308 yards against Southern Wayne last week. The Rams’ run defense, which gave up 218 yards to Pine Forest, needs to find ways to slow down Ashley’s two-headed rushing attack in Makai Stanley and Zach Williams.
Purnell Swett 24, Ashley 21
South Robeson (0-0) at Union (1-0)
The Mustangs prepare to play 11 games in 11 weeks, and have to take on a pass-heavy team in Union that showed it struggles stopping the run last week. Midway, Union’s Week 1 opponent, rushed for 220 yards. Even without Jamearos McLeod, South Robeson needs to establish a run game to have an chance.
As for stopping the Spartans in the air, the Mustangs’ secondary has to follow the same gameplan it would take against a team like Fairmont.
Union 35, South Robeson 12