Game of the Week:Red Devils host Rams

As week two of high school football gets underway, most of Robeson County’s teams will be looking to bounce back from losses in week one.

The lone winner, Red Springs (1-0), looks to keep rolling Friday against county rival Purnell Swett (0-1).

The Red Devils claimed a 52-6 victory in week one against Sandhills, opening the season with a win for the first time since 2012.

“We still have to get used to winning,” said Red Springs coach Ron Cook. “It’s been a long time since we opened the season with a win.”

The Red Devils were led by senior running back Ronald Alexander, who rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns.

Cook looks to continue the ground-and-pound philosophy this week against the Rams.

“We’re not going to try to get too fancy,” Cook said. “We’re keeping the ball on the ground.”

This week in practice, Cook said the Red Devils have worked to fine tune the basics.

“We’ve focused on getting better fundamentally,” he said. “Less mental mistakes. We were plus four in the turnover margin and we’ll be keeping track of that.

“Defensively, we’ve gotten a lot better. Changing some personnel and moving guys to different positions to help them succeed.”

Cook expects the stands to be a sea of red, or what he’s dubbed, a “Red Swarm.”

“It’s a good thing for Robeson County because (Purnell Swett) is right down the road from us,” he said.

“We’ll have our new pants to go along with our red jerseys for an all-red look. We hope it’s a red swarm, with a bunch of people wearing red in the crowd.”

The Rams have claimed the last four meetings between the teams, outscoring Red Springs 175-57 in those contests, including a 41-12 win last season.

“It’s a huge game and a good opportunity to keep improving,” Cook said. “It would be a big win for our school’s history.”

For the Rams, the game serves as an opportunity to bounce back from a 30-0 loss last week against Pine Forest.

While the game was disappointing, Purnell Swett coach Jon Sherman said it hasn’t negatively affected the Rams in practice.

“Based on last week — evaluating things — you never know how kids will respond,” Sherman said. “Monday was the best practice I’ve been a part of in two years. We were physical, fast … we had a great day.”

Sherman is hopeful it will translate to Friday’s game.

“I think the energy level is there,” he said.

“We’re eager to show that we’re not as bad as we looked (last Friday). We’ll see what happens.”

Despite the loss in the opener, the Rams defense was able to do some good things, forcing three turnovers. It’s something Sherman thinks the team can build on moving forward.

“The first 50 plays we were only on offense for seven,” Sherman said. “I thought the defense hung in there. We stayed tough.”

“It’s a new scheme defensively. When they did what was asked, they did it perfect. I just like … that I saw some young kids play physical football.”

It was a different story on offense, as the Rams were outgained 347-170.

“Offensively, we’re looking for that spark,” Sherman said.

Lumberton (0-1) at Pine Forest (1-0)

The Pirates will hit the road for the second consecutive week, traveling to Fayetteville for a battle with Pine Forest. Lumberton is looking to bounce back from a 28-20 loss to Wilson Hunt, where the Pirates rallied but fell short in their comeback bid.

Pine Forest and Lumberton split the past two meetings, with the Pirates claiming a 35-21 win at home last season. They will look to Troy Mitchell to carry the load after rushing for 108 yards and two touchdowns last week.

St. Pauls (0-1) vs. Douglas Byrd (0-1)

The Bulldogs continue their non-conference slate with a home opener against Douglas Byrd. Each team opened the season with blowout losses. St. Pauls totaled 144 yards of offense and had three turnovers in the opener.

South Robeson (0-1) vs. Trask (0-1)

The young Mustangs host Trask in their home opener, looking to bounce back from a 46-0 loss at West Bladen last week.

Fairmont (0-1) will return to action next week in its home opener against Ashley.

By Rodd Baxley

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Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.

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