Where I belong, in first place

First Posted: 1/15/2009

I'll keep it short and sweet.
I started the season in first place with a perfect Week 1, I'm still in first place after four weeks, and I plan on being in first place come Saturday evening.
This is a tough week, though, with at least four local games close enough to being considered a toss-up.
Locke and Stamm, let's see what ya got.
Hoke Co. (3-0)
at Lumberton (4-0)
Coming off a huge win over state-ranked Scotland County, things don't get any easier for Lumberton. Hoke County is coming off a big win of its own with last week's 27-18 victory over Cape Fear. The Bucks also own a 21-12 win over Purnell Swett.
Versatile Hoke quarterback C.J. Gaddis will be the man Lumberton's improved defense focuses on, but there are two other talented runners in the Bucks' backfield. The Pirate defense has been up to the task through four games, but can they keep forcing the big turnovers?
The pick: Hoke County 28, Lumberton 27
Purnell Swett (1-3)
at Scotland (2-1)
With both teams coming off tough, disappointing losses, expect a little extra spark as they try to get back in the win column.
Turnovers killed the Fighting Scots last week, and Purnell Swett's defense will be swarming to the ball looking to force some more. A few cough-ups mixed with the Rams' time-consuming running game would mean trouble for Scotland.
The difference between these two squads, though, is that Purnell Swett hasn't proved it can put a close game away yet this season.
The pick: Scotland 21, Purnell Swett 20.
Fairmont (0-4)
at W. Columbus (2-1)
The Golden Tornadoes need a win, but that won't happen until they start cutting down on the mental mistakes and put together a consistent offense effort. This is the week for that to happen, with West Columbus giving up 29 points per game.
Fairmont's defense has been pretty solid, but will this be the week it's offense catches up.
The pick: Fairmont 14, West Columbus 13
St. Pauls (0-4)
at East Bladen (2-0)
The Eagles are coming off a win, but expect them to want to show a little extra after barely holding off Red Springs last week, 21-20. That's not good news for a St. Pauls team that has struggled to keep opposing teams out of the end zone.
The pick: East Bladen 35, St. Pauls 21.
Red Springs (1-3)
at S. Brunswick (0-2)
The Red Devils are improving, and over the last two week's they've picked up their first win of the season and played a good East Bladen to a tough 21-20 loss.
South Brunswick isn't in the same class as East Bladen, but this is an important game for Red Springs to continue to show that improvement.
The pick: Red Springs 28, South Brunswick 21.
South Robeson (3-0)
Whiteville (1-2)
This is an interesting matchup.
South Robeson crushed Whiteville last year as 'The Ox' Matt Oxendine rushed for over 250 yards. The Wolfpack played defending 2-A state champion Clinton tough in a 23-16 setback last week, though.
Although the Dark Horses aren't as tough as they were last season, the question remains just how much has Whiteville improved?
The pick: South Robeson 28, Whiteville 21.
– Tim Rafalski can be reached at 739-4322, Ext. 119 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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