It was a rough open to the high school football season for Robeson County, with four of its six teams taking losses in Week 1.
Lumberton and Red Springs are the only teams in the winner’s circle, with the Pirates earning an 40-0 win over Hunt and the Red Devils taking an 35-8 victory at Sandhills. As the season progresses, we’ll highlight the top performances of the week — from teams and individuals — and give insight on the teams trending up and players to keep an eye on as the state playoffs draw closer.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Lumberton: If you’re a Lumberton Pirate, you can’t ask for a better start to the season. After falling short in Wilson last year 28-20, Lumberton came out in its home opener with something to prove en route to an 40-0 beatdown of the Warriors.
It was the first shutout for the Pirates since the 2014 opener, an 38-0 win over Douglas Byrd in Mike Setzer’s debut as head coach.
The Pirates’ defense held Hunt to 132 total yards, forcing three turnovers in the process. Junior linebacker Devonta McKoy was a terror for the Warriors, finishing with a pair of fumble recoveries, including an 34-yarder for a touchdown.
The offense was just as impressive, showing incredible balance. Behind the tough running of Montrez Howell, the Pirates marched down the field time after time with quarterback Braylan Grice reaping the benefits in the redzone. Grice finished with four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
Aside from two turnovers, the Pirates couldn’t have drawn it up any better in Week 1.
Jarique Moore, WR, Fairmont: Picking up where he left off last season, Moore flourished in the passing game for Fairmont’s offense last night with seven receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns. The senior showcased his speed and elusiveness with several catch and runs for long plays on the night.
His opening catch was a screen pass with the Golden Tornadoes inside its own 10-yard line that he broke loose for a 94-yard touchdown. Quarterback Julius Caulder looked to Moore much of the night and, including on Fairmont’s last drive of the first half where he hauled in a 58-yard pass to put the Golden Tornadoes inside the Westover 5-yard line. Two plays later, Moore brought in his second touchdown of the night.
Moore had three grabs over 55 yards on the night.
Montrez Howell, RB, Lumberton: If his first start at running back is any indication of what’s ahead for Howell, it could be a special year for the junior tailback. Howell rushed for 120 yards in his debut as Lumberton’s feature back, pounding the Warriors up the middle and showcasing his lateral speed. He didn’t score, but his presence opened things up for Grice and the passing game.
The offensive line, a point of concern entering the season, was tremendous in creating opportunities for Howell.
Sitting behind Troy Mitchell last season, who tallied 1,501 rushing yards in his senior campaign, Howell said he “learned how to run hard.” It was clear on Friday night that he was paying attention while he was waiting for his opportunity.
OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES
Braylan Grice, QB, Lumberton — Threw four touchdown passes.
Julius Caulder, QB, Fairmont — Threw for 328 yards, passed for three touchdowns and ran in for another score.
Tyreik McCallum, ATH, Lumberton — Finished with a receiving touchdown and an interception.
Todd Lockhart, QB, Red Springs — Threw for two touchdown passes.
Eric Graham, ATH, Red Springs — Finished with a pair of touchdowns, one receiving, one rushing and 87 yards of total offense.
Chad Overstreet, DE, Red Springs — Tallied two fumble recoveries, three tackles for loss and one sack.
Red Springs’ Defense — Forced eight turnovers with a pair of defensive touchdowns.
Lumberton’s Defense — Forced three turnovers, earned first shutout since 2014.
Alexis Ard, K, Lumberton — Ard made history on Friday night, becoming the first female to participate in a high school football game for the Pirates. She finished with a pair of extra points.
Nichorie West, DB, Red Springs — Had a 55-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Noah Wheeler, QB, St. Pauls — Passed for 133 yards and a touchdown in his first game playing quarterback.