Playing with confidence is one thing.
Battling the opposition with a county-sized chip is another.
Trey Sasser’s done a tremendous job pounding home the “why not us” mentality at St. Pauls this season, a Bulldogs team that’s won seven of their first nine games despite graduating their top quarterback, tailback and wideout and half of their defensive starters.
St. Pauls is clearly Robeson County’s most complete football team and its pair of roads wins at Fairmont and South Columbus are more impressive than any victory from the area’s other five squads this season.
The Bulldogs need a little help, but they’re in prime position to share a Three Rivers Conference championship with Whiteville and perhaps South Columbus if they can win their final two contests against East Columbus and Red Springs. St. Pauls can also clinch the league’s top 2A playoff seed if the Stallions lose another.
The key behind Sasser’s expertise this season has been the swift maturation process for first-year quarterback Malik Livingston. St. Pauls knew the point guard was quick on his feet, but didn’t know if Livingston’s arm was strong enough to challenge opposing teams down the field.
The senior’s two best outings came against Fairmont and South Columbus, teams that came into those games riding long winning streaks. Livingston tallied 693 yards of total offense and five touchdowns those nights, eventual wins that could end up pushing St. Pauls to a conference title.
Week 10 Record: 5-1; Overall 37-12
St. Pauls proved me wrong again, winning on the road in Tabor City. The Bulldogs dominate on homecoming, a trend I haven’t yet picked up on apparently. Let’s throw a little horror movie mix in this week’s picks since today’s Halloween.
Scotland (9-0, 3-0) at Lumberton (0-9, 0-3)
The “Nightmare on Fayetteville Road” stars a fired coach, a struggling defense and an offense depleted by injury and inexperience. But the Pirates’ big screen bomb was expected this season against one of the toughest 4A schedules in the state. Lumberton’s tired of using that excuse, but it’s not getting any easier tonight against one of the state’s best teams.
Scotland 42, Lumberton 6
Hoke (2-7, 1-2) at Swett (2-7, 0-3)
Take an extensive look at “What Lies Beneath” in Pembroke and you’ll see a faulty offensive line and not enough talent on either side of the football to challenge in the Southeastern Conference. Swett’s Super Bowl is next week against Lumberton, but a win over the Bucks would end Hoke’s long shot at the playoffs.
Hoke 28, Swett 27
Fairmont (7-2, 3-2) at South Columbus (6-3, 4-1)
Fairmont’s “When A Stranger Calls” has been first-year coach Randy Ragland, who has helped turn around the Golden Tornadoes’ once sunken ship. Unfortunately, Ragland’s expertise is offense and the other side of the football is what’s keeping this team from being a serious championship competitor.
South Columbus 44, Fairmont 38
West Columbus (2-7, 0-5) at Red Springs (1-8, 1-4)
Need a good movie to rent based in a deep, dark cave with little light? “The Descent” is playing at the Inferno this season, a playoff-projected team that could lose 10 games with their all-new offensive line, coaching staff and defense. The Red Devils haven’t been able to match last season’s production on offense and poor tackling’s led to eight losses through nine games.
Red Springs 30, West Columbus 22
Whiteville (8-1, 5-0) at South Robeson (6-3, 3-2)
Most bought into the preseason hype in Rowland, although it may have been a “The Conjuring” of sorts. The Mustangs, thought to be a sleeper in the Three Rivers Conference, have proved their only magic is in the backfield with Andrew Hill and Juan Ellerbe. South Robeson’s defense has played well at times, but not against some of the league’s heavyweights. Whiteville’s another one of those dominant forces this evening.
Whiteville 47, South Robeson 28
St. Pauls (7-2, 4-1) at East Columbus (2-7, 0-5)
The “Boogeyman” in Robeson County this season, St. Pauls has been scary for the good teams with a collection of talent favorites often fear. If the Bulldogs can beat Red Springs next week in the finale, St. Pauls will have nine wins heading into the playoffs with a imaginary county championship to boot.
St. Pauls 41, East Columbus 15
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.