LUMBERTON — This week the all five Robeson County high school football fields will be dark as four of the five teams are on the road, and Red Springs gets another week off, but one that was planned before the season.
Fairmont, Purnell Swett and St. Pauls are, as Willie Nelson once sang, “On The Road Again,” while Lumberton is heading away from Alton G. Brooks Stadium for the second time this season. The road will be calling the Pirates in four of the final five weeks after being spoiled at home the first half of the season.
One line in the aforementioned song is fitting on several levels this week, “Goin’ places that I’ve never been, Seein’ things that I may never see again.” In heading to Fayetteville to follow the Pirates, it will be my first football game at Seventy-First. Also Fairmont is going to East Bladen looking to claim its first win over the Eagles in Elizabethtown in this century.
This month brings a lot of big road matchups, especially in the Three Rivers Conference and after this week I will more than likely be thinking to myself that I can’t wait to get on the road again.
Record after Week 7: 23-5.
St. Pauls at West Columbus
Last week was a step in the right direction for the Bulldogs, closing out South Columbus with a big fourth quarter. The offense featured good balance, but like it has been all season was focused around the run game of Marqueise Coleman, who is now across the 1,000-yard threshold in just five games this season. That number will continue to grow this week as St. Pauls takes on a struggling West Columbus team.
Fairmont showed it had no trouble putting clamps on the Vikings’ offense, while scoring in three phases in the blowout win a few weeks ago. St. Pauls can send a message by dishing out a similar result this week.
St. Pauls 49, West Columbus 6
Lumberton at Seventy-First
The hardest part of a losing streak is getting out of it, but for one these two teams, stopping their losing skid is the only option. Seventy-First’s woes comes after a solid start to the season, including a close win over Cape Fear. Lumberton’s comes as a bit of a surprise given that the two teams it lost to since starting conference play were opponents that narrowly defeated the Pirates a year ago. That’s a testament to the depth of the league now.
Given that the Falcons have played close games against Cape Fear and Hoke, teams that had no problem against the Pirates, and their run game, another rough contest awaits Lumberton.
Seventy-First 42, Lumberton 7
Fairmont at East Bladen
Fairmont looks to snap a losing skid of its own this week, having not defeated East Bladen in football on the road since 1998. With East Bladen struggling this season, this might be the best chance for the Golden Tornadoes as a way to recover from the bad loss last week to Whiteville. Several players from last year’s team remember the close loss Fairmont had at home to the Eagles so there should be no shortage of motivation in this one.
The way Fairmont came out of the gate against Whiteville is the proper intensity needed for all 48 minutes in each of its final five games. Also look for the defense to come up big late in this one.
Fairmont 28, East Bladen 24
Purnell Swett at Pinecrest
Having gone up against the likes of Richmond and Scotland, this week going up against Pinecrest might look like an easier matchup for Purnell Swett. What the Patriots lack in overall athleticism compared to the two top teams in the Sandhills, they make up for in execution and discipline, making this another tough one for the Rams.
As the offense for the Rams has gone quiet the last two weeks, expect that unit to build off the tough times, but it still will likely fall short against Pinecrest.
Pinecrest 38, Purnell Swett 10
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.