PEMBROKE — Purnell Swett licked its wounds from the first week and put together a solid performance in a win over Ashley last Friday. The win keeps the Rams in the conversation for conference supremacy, much to the delight of a relieved coach Jon Sherman.
“[The win] did give us some positive reinforcement…gets us moving where we need to be moving after a bad loss to Pine Forest,” Sherman said.
The Rams (1-1) move on to face an improved Douglas Byrd (1-1) team that features Earlee Melvin. The senior running back has already collected 346 rushing yards and five touchdowns through two games. Sherman recognizes that any chance of beating the Eagles starts and ends with containing No. 21.
“Take care of 21,” Sherman said. “He’s the key. We’ve been focusing on tackle circuit…and 11 [players] to the ball.”
The Rams are led defensively by senior linebacker Dylan Lowry, who will need to continue his stellar play in hopes of bottling up Melvin. Lowry has amassed 33 tackles this year, including a game-high 18 against Ashley. His coach credits the defensive line for Lowry’s early success and says they have done a good job at the point of attack, allowing him the freedom to make plays.
Offensively, senior wide receiver Chandler Brayboy serves a versatile player and was used in a variety of ways last week. He ran for a 76-yard score on a jet sweep in addition to 66 yards receiving. Sherman is pleased with his star’s effort, but recognizes the challenge for the rest of the season will be how to get others involved as teams load up on Brayboy.
“We had a couple of guys step up last week… we had four or five guys score, so that’s a step in the right direction. So, as long as we can spread the ball a little bit and other guys step up, everyone’s going to have their touches,” Sherman said.
Quarterback Micah Carter will play a big role in making sure everyone has their “touches.” He accounted for 140 yards of offense and three touchdowns against Ashley.
Lumberton at South View
Coming off a frustrating home loss to Westover, the Pirates look for their first win of the season when they travel to South View on Friday.
Quarterback Braylan Grice has been impressive in the early going. He gained 262 total yards with four touchdowns (three rushing) against Westover. His primary receiver has been Kwashek Breeden and the two hooked up for more than 100 yards on two passes last week.
The Pirates (0-2) have talent, but to secure their first win they’ll need to improve their focus. South View (2-0) is a team that hasn’t made too many mistakes this season. It has won both games by double digits and are led by senior quarterback Donovan Brewington, who has racked up 557 passing yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Grice led the team with six tackles and also had an interception against Westover. The Pirates defense will look for that same effort against the Tigers.
Fairmont at Ashley
Fairmont (0-1) is back from its bye on Friday, and takes a trip to Ashley in search of its first win of the year. The last time out, the Golden Tornadoes struggled to stop Douglas Byrd running back Earlee Melvin, who had 254 yards and three touchdowns.
Ashley (1-1) is powered by a solid rushing attack, headed by two backs that average over 100 yards per game. Senior running back Zach Williams has 246 yards and two touchdowns this year, while junior Makai Stanley has 234 yards and three touchdowns.
Kevin Inman’s group will need to do a better job of slowing down the Screaming Eagles duo than they did Melvin if they want to come back with their first win.
Donnell Coley can be reached at 910-416-5165 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Sportsinmyveins.