Doing my part for Lumberton

First Posted: 1/15/2009

Don't take this the wrong way, but when it comes time for the Fearless Forecast each week over the remainder of the season, don't get upset when I pick against Lumberton.
After all, I'm doing it for the Pirates' sake.
You see, two weeks ago when Scotland County came to town for a showdown, I had to go with the Fighting Scots, who were ranked No. 3 in the state at the time and were fresh off a rousing win over South Carolina state champion Marlboro County. Of course, Lumberton proceeded to tell me where exactly I could stick my prediction, as Jeff Smouse's squad staged a dramatic fourth-quarter rally to pull out a 19-16 win.
Then on Friday, the Pirates welcomed undefeated Hoke County, which had just knocked off a strong Cape Fear squad the week before. Again, I went with the opposition. Again, Lumberton told me to stick it, and proceeded to ring off another fourth-quarter rally and another big win.
So here's what I'm proposing. None of Lumberton's next five will be easy pickins -- Pine Forest (5-0), South View (3-1), cross-county rival Purnell Swett (1-4), E.E. Smith (4-1) and Cape Fear (4-1). And since the Pirates have done a good job of proving me wrong the last two weeks, it might be best for all involved if I picked against them the rest of the way.
Hey, that process has worked well so far.
Gamblin' Man
I'm starting to sense a trend here. For the second week in a row, my stone cold lock of the week was anything but, while my underdog of the week came through with flying colors.
It turns out Tennessee was the pathetic team against Dallas, but Da Bears came through against Atlanta despite being three-point dogs.
So I'll stick with what's been working and start with my underdog of the week: Kansas City. The Chiefs are 9 1/2-points dogs on the road against New England, which is probably the hottest team in the league right now. My gut is saying the Patroits are due for a letdown. Kansas City might not win the game, but expect the Chiefs to cover the spread.
I'm 0-for with my locks so far, but I'm looking to break out of my slump with Minnesota at home against Carolina this week. Here's a news flash: The Panthers are 2-0, but those wins have come against the two worst teams in the league. Carolina will be brought back down to earth by the Vikings, who are 6-point favorites. Expected Randy Moss to tear up a weak Panthers secondary and for Minnesota to cover the spread.
Odds and ends
n When Lumberton travels to Pine Forest on Friday for the opening of Two Rivers Conference play, it'll mark the third straight week the Pirates faced an undefeated opponent.
n The University of North Carolina at Pembroke graduate Chantay Strickland was recently named head coach of the Moreland High girls basketball team. Stickland had spent the last seven years as an assistant at Hoke County.
A native of New Jersey, Strickland originally moved to North Carolina on a basketball scholarship to Lenoir-Rhyne College before ending up at UNCP.
Tim Rafalski can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 119 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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