Here’s a look from staff writer Brad Crawford at Friday’s Week 8 high school football games involving teams from Robeson County:
Red Springs (0-6, 0-2) at Whiteville (5-1, 2-0)
Coaches: RS — George Coltharp; WHS — Luke Little
Recent history: Red Springs is 0-9 all-time against Whiteville.
What to watch: Whiteville has a chance to be one of only two 3-0 Three Rivers Conference teams with a win over the Red Devils since the South Columbus-South Robeson contest will determine one of those programs’ first loss. Red Springs knows what is has to do to qualify for the postseason and that’s win four of its final five games. DeAndre Hallman and Dewayne Fairley are two newcomers on offense coming off their best individual games in the Red Devil offense. Their ability to help out Blake Greene moving the football and keeping Whiteville’s offense off the field is Red Springs’ best opportunity at an upset.
Keep an eye on: Red Springs’ rush defense — ranked last in the area — will be tested throughout thanks to rushers Tyqwan McDougal and Terrin Manning who each ran for over 100 yards in the Wolfpack’s win at St. Pauls.
South Columbus (4-2, 2-0) at South Robeson (5-1, 2-0)
Coaches: SC — Jake Fonvielle; SR — Stephen Roberson
Recent history: South Robeson’s 0-4 all-time against South Columbus.
What to watch: If there’s a flaw in South Columbus’ game, the Stallions haven’t shown it during their current four-game winning streak. Likewise on the other sideline for the Mustangs, winners of five straight and fueled by the two-back tandem of Andrew Hill and Juan Ellerbe. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be key for both teams on Friday night in a matchup of the league’s top running attacks.
Keep an eye on: South Robeson quarterback Kalvis Chavis is coming off a career-game in his team’s win over East Columbus and could be the deciding factor against a defense that’s dominant against the rush. Chavis has enough talent on the outside to make plays in the the passing game and two running backs that could help him out in the flats.
West Columbus (2-4, 0-2) at St. Pauls (4-2, 1-1)
Coaches: WC — Mark Little; STP — Trey Sasser
Recent history: The Bulldogs have won three straight games over the Vikings.
What to watch: Here’s two programs on different footing as we hit the pivotal Week 3 in the conference season. This one’s a must-win for St. Pauls after the Bulldogs split their first two league contests. West Columbus went to a running clock in last week’s loss to Fairmont, an example of just how much the Vikings are struggling with numbers and being competitive under coach Mark Little. St. Pauls looks to recover at home defensively from what could wind up being a season-defining drive from Whiteville in last week’s final quarter.
Keep an eye on: St. Pauls’ ability to regain its composure and rhythm on offense. The Bulldogs played it a little too close to the vest last week against the Wolfpack after piecing together three consecutive first-half touchdown drives behind Damien McMillan to lead 20-7 in the second quarter.
East Columbus (2-4, 0-2) at Fairmont (5-1, 1-1)
Coaches: EC — Chris Haney; FMT — Randy Ragland
Recent history: Fairmont saw its five-game winning streak in the series snapped last season with a 42-0 thumping.
What to watch: There’s still room to improve for the Fairmont offense says its head coach after last week’s 36-0 win at West Columbus. Upon further inspection, the Golden Tornadoes had a ton of drops that would’ve went for big gains and didn’t protect quarterback Jarrod Neal particularly well in the passing game. East Columbus has lost three straight games since beating Trask on Sept. 13 and has one touchdown over its last two games. The Gators did manage to limit Robeson County’s top rusher Andrew Hill to 49 yards in last week against South Robeson.
Keep an eye on: Fairmont running back Quenton Walker, who has seen his role increase in the run game, could be in for a big night since East Columbus’ focus will be on Fairmont’s passing game. Walker’s a threat to catch the football out of the backfield too and is averaging more than five yards per carry this season.
Scotland (6-0) at Purnell Swett (2-4)
Coaches: SC — Richard Bailey; PS — Mark Heil
Recent history: Swett’s 5-25 all-time against Scotland, capturing its last win, 38-37, in 2009.
What to watch: The Rams’ Southeastern Conference opener comes against statewide heavyweight Scotland, a program that’s won 40-of-47 games over the last 3.5 seasons since Swett’s last victory in the series. Scotland’s strength this season is its defense, a veteran-heavy unit led by all-state caliber corner Trejon Monley. Southern Durham and Jack Britt are the only teams through the first two months to score more than two touchdowns on the Scots’ first-team unit. By comparison, the Rams are fifth out of six teams in scoring coming into SEC play despite consistent play offensively over the last three games.
Keep an eye on: Scotland quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe makes the offense go for 4A football’s second-ranked team. He’s blossomed into a Division I dual-threat candidate and leads an attack that lights up the scoreboard for nearly 41 points a contest.
Pinecrest (6-0) at Lumberton (0-6)
Coaches: PC — Chris Metzer; LHS — Joe Salas
Recent history: Last year’s loss to Pinecrest snapped Lumberton’s three-game winning streak in the series.
What to watch: Much has been made about unbeaten Pinecrest’s perceived soft schedule, a sticking point this week for coach Metzger and his staff. Friday’s game gives the Patriots an opportunity at showcasing their improvement with a win on the road. Meanwhile at Lumberton, the margin of error is zero for the Pirates and their postseason chances. Lumberton’s top playmaker Josh Sheridan was cleared on Monday, but there’s no timetable set for his return. He leads the Pirates with six touchdowns this season and nearly led his team to an upset win at Seventy-First earlier this season.
Keep an eye on: Lumberton’s confidence level at home, coming out of its bye week, should be as high as its been since the Pirates nearly knocked off Seventy-First in Week 4. The ‘winnable’ games so to speak for the Pirates are dwindling and how Lumberton fares against the Veer and playing assignment football is an intriguing storyline.