Friday’s Forecast: Lack of defense troubling late in season
by By Brad Crawford
Stephen Roberson yelled at his defensive players coming off the field late in the second quarter of last week’s loss to South Columbus.
He was tired.
Frustrated with a lack of strength up front and poor tackling against the Three Rivers Conference’s perceived front-runner.
The Stallions scored on all five first-half possessions and with three minutes left in the second quarter, led 30-0.
“We didn’t tackle and we weren’t as physical,” Roberson said. “I didn’t expect them to have their way with us like that.”
Giving up yards in chunks was a problem for most area football teams last week as four of Robeson County’s six programs lost by at least three touchdowns — the first time that’s ever happened. Red Springs’ 60-point loss at Whiteville was the most embarrassing, a game in which the Wolfpack’s second team was still moving the football — and scoring — in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“Things got bad, but they really spiral when you turn the ball over,” Red Springs coach George Coltharp said. “I don’t think any team in the area has been very good with protecting the football and playing mistake-free. We’ve all had trouble tackling too.”
At Lumberton and Purnell Swett, it’s been a case of both offenses putting the opposite side of the football in bad positions with short fields. St. Pauls and Fairmont have improved as of late, but the Bulldogs and Golden Tornadoes have had their own deficiencies on defense, too.
The state playoffs start in one month.
It’s time to fix the problems.
Week 8 Record: 6-0; Overall 28-11
A perfect week this late in the game could be a season-saver. Another one means domination in the prognostication department. These four shouldn’t be all that difficult.
St. Pauls (5-2, 2-1) at South Robeson (5-2, 2-1)
Daymien McMillan. Not Damien or Damian, but DAY-mien and the St. Pauls senior running back gets his opportunity to shine in Rowland. McMillan’s running style mimics South Columbus’ pad-level precision, a blend of power of speed. If the Bulldogs’ offensive line creates space for McMillan and quarterback Malik Livingston to operate, St. Pauls shouldn’t have trouble outscoring the Mustangs.
St. Pauls 26, South Robeson 20
Red Springs (0-7, 0-3) at Fairmont (6-1, 2-1)
Talk about a season spoiler at Hal Floyd Stadium. Red Springs could derail Fairmont’s league title hopes with an upset win on the road, but will need to do what it hasn’t done all season in order for that to happen — keeping the opposition out of the end zone. Fairmont’s offense is the county’s most prolific and matched up against a defense that struggles in space, the home team’s side of the scoreboard should get a ton of work.
Fairmont 48, Red Springs 21
Swett (2-5, 0-1) at Richmond (6-1, 1-0)
Revenge perhaps? I’m sure Swett coach Mark Heil is still trying to get over a blown call two years ago in Rockingham that cost the Rams a one-point win. ‘Raider Magic’ reared its ugly head and as a result, playmaker Juan Jones was ruled short of the goal line on a game-deciding two-point conversion attempt. Richmond’s at a similar talent level this season, but the Rams — hampered by lack of production in the running game — are not. Scotland took its foot off the gas in last week’s 48-6 win in Pembroke and I’d expect Paul Hoggard and the Raiders to do the same on homecoming.
Richmond 49, Swett 14
Lumberton (0-7, 0-1) at Hoke (1-6, 0-1)
Banged up or not, Lumberton needs a win badly before matchups with Richmond and Scotland prior to November. Austin Foley’s filled in nicely at quarterback for Will Everette and could shine against a defense that hasn’t played up to its potential in Raeford. The Pirates will still need a few balls bounce their way regardless and that is yet to happen in Joe Salas’ first season. Demetri Sheridan scored twice on the ground as a two-way player last week. Look for the senior linebacker to be more involved in the Lumberton backfield in the red zone Friday night.
Hoke 20, Lumberton 14
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.
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