First Posted: 1/15/2009
FAIRMONT - In order for Fairmont to extend its three-game winning streak and remain atop the Southeastern Conference standings this week, the Tornadoes will need to put the brakes on Red Springs' potent rushing attack.
Fairmont, 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference, will face its first county opponent on Friday and one of the best backfields that it will face all season.
“They're coming at us,” Fairmont coach Kim Brown said of the Red Devils. “They've got probably the best three running backs we've seen all season and they've got every right in the world to believe they can beat us.”
Red Springs, 2-6 and 1-2, will be led by sophomore running back Phillip Campbell, who has rushed for 1,122 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, including 273 yards and four touchdowns last week. He will be joined in the backfield by Rasheem McEachern and Ravell McEachern.
Brown said that his team may have gotten some preparation for the Devils backfield in last week's 48-26 win over Heide Trask.
“The good thing is that we faced a good running back last week,” Brown said of Titans tailback Chris Armstrong, who rushed for 159 yards in the loss. “Hopefully that prepares us a little bit for this week.”
The Tornadoes' ground game, which has also been impressive this season, will be led by backs C.J. Litmon and Ascare Douglas. Litmon has rushed for 519 yards on 79 carries this season, while Douglas has amassed 587 yards on 94 rushes. Both have scored seven touchdowns.
“They're big, good and strong,” Red Springs coach Clay Jernigan said of the Tornadoes. “That's probably the best team I've seen from them in a while.”
The Tornadoes will be without junior starting cornerback Quintain Lewis, who is out with a broken hand.
Red Springs, which is coming off a 39-20 win over West Columbus, will be looking for its first winning streak of the season.
“I'm trying to fight a letdown,” Jernigan said.
Red Springs won last year's matchup 35-12, knocking the Tornadoes out of playoff contention in the process.
Lumberton (0-2, 1-6)
at Terry Sanford (2-1, 6-2)
The Lumberton Pirates will be thinking upset when they travel to Terry Sanford Friday night for a showdown with the Bulldogs.
“It's a must-win game for us,” Lumberton coach Bill Dockery said. “We can't afford another loss in the conference if we want to contend for a playoff spot.”
Terry Sanford has played well this season, but is coming off a Monday night loss to South View, and will be without their starting quarterback, Richard Royal.
“With them having a short week, and it being their homecoming, maybe we can catch them at the right time,” Dockery said.
Dockery was able to see the Bulldogs play Monday and said Terry Sanford's offense remains the same, even with Royal absent.
“They're still going to run the Pro-I formation,” Dockery said. “They like to run, run, run, then mix in the pass to keep you honest.”
Lumberton will have some personnel issues of its own to work out for the game. The Pirates lost defensive lineman Darrell Morgan, who moved to Greensboro and senior running back and linebacker Bobby Moore will not dress after suffering a knee injury last week against Purnell Swett.
The depth issues mean running back Adrian Powell will likely see more time on defense, while Jeffery Bromell and Craig Stevens will have to shoulder more of the Lumberton running game.
South Robeson (0-2, 1-6)
at West Bladen (1-2, 1-6)
South Robeson has shown a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Charles Anderson, but West Bladen has something the Mustangs want: A Southeastern Conference win.
“If we're going to win this game, we have to block and tackle better; it's not rocket science,” South Robeson coach Barry Leonard said. “And we're still improving on catching the ball. We've had quite a few dropped passes lately.”
West Bladen's lone conference win was a surprising 47-22 walloping of Red Springs on Sept. 29.
The Knights like to use its running game as its main weapon on offense, led by junior fullback Donte Drew and junior quarterback Austin Hillis.
“They like to run right at you,” Leonard said. “And the quarterback can throw well if he needs to.”
On defense, West Bladen likes to use its linebackers to blitz.
Aside from the usual bumps and bruises, South Robeson will be without the services of senior running back Vincent McLean, who dislocated his elbow a few weeks ago. Throughout the Mustangs' first five games, McLean rushed for 210 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. He also caught five passes for 44 yards.
“This is a big game for us if we have any plans to make the playoffs - and that's what we're still playing for,” Leonard said. “But we've got to do the little things better.”