The Purnell Swett football team has dominated its rivalry with Red Springs over the years, but last season the Red Devils clipped their county rival for the first time in program history.
Rams coach Jon Sherman hasn’t forgotten about the 22-8 loss as his team prepares to host Red Springs (1-0) in Pembroke on Friday.
“We’ll see if we can play better than last year, ‘cause they got us,” he said. “It’s a good little rivalry we have going on. Our kids know a lot of their kids and are excited about that. They just want to play.”
Purnell Swett (0-1) enters Week 2 after suffering an 11-6 loss at Pine Forest last week. Offering no excuses for a missed call by the referees that could’ve determined the outcome of the game, Sherman is focused on seeing his team control what it can control: getting better.
“We’re not going to look for excuses (after last week),” he said. “We should never put ourselves in the situation where others dictate the outcome of the game. Offensively, we want to be smooth and eliminate penalties. Defensively, we want to keep it up with the good tackles and eliminate bad plays.”
So far, Sherman has liked what he’s seen in practice throughout the week ahead of the home opener.
“We’ve had a good past two days and a great week of preparation,” he said. “We’re just looking at being better than we were (last) Friday.”
Though students haven’t returned to school for the new year, Sherman still expects a crowd to be on hand for the first all-Robeson County matchup of the season.
“I’m looking for everyone in the community to come out and support the team,” he said. “Red Springs will obviously bring a crowd. The buzz is out there about how we look better than last year so hopefully that will help too.”
For the Red Devils, coming off a 35-8 win over Sandhills, it’s business as usual with an emphasis on defensive dominance.
Jerome Bass led the relentless attack on the Rams last season, collecting three sacks and five tackles for a loss. In Week 1, the Red Devils forced eight turnovers.
Red Springs coach Ron Cook hopes to see more of the same in Week 2, but he knows it will be battle.
“I think it will be a lot tougher than last year, especially since we’re going to their place” Cook said. “They have revenge on their minds. It’s a real big game for both of us.”
Cook is looking for linebacker Kaleb Locklear to continue leading the defense in the right direction.
“He’s been making a lot of plays for us and busting his butt off the field to become a student of the game,” he said. “He’s starting to be the coach on the field.”
Pine Forest (1-0) at Lumberton (1-0)
Coming off its first shutout since the 2014 opener, Lumberton looks to keep it rolling against a Pine Forest team that escaped Purnell Swett in an 11-6 win last week.
The Pirates rolled to a 40-0 win over Hunt in their season opener, with sensational performances on both sides of the ball.
After rushing for 120 yards in the opener, expect Montrez Howell to get a heavy workload once again as the Pirates’ latest threat out of the backfield. Lumberton accumulated 306 rushing yards last season in a 34-27 win over the Trojans in Fayetteville.
Lumberton has won the last two games in the series.
Carolina Forest (0-0) at Fairmont (0-1)
The Fairmont offense did its job in the opening game, led by 265 receiving yards and a trio of touchdowns from standout Jarique Moore, but its defense will continue to be spotlighted as the key to the team’s success throughout the year.
This week doesn’t get any easier as the Golden Tornadoes host Myrtle Beach’s Carolina Forest, before hitting the road for the next three weeks.
It’s the season opener for the Panthers, who posted a 5-7 record last season.
St. Pauls (0-1) at Douglas Byrd (0-1)
The Bulldogs took a beating in Ernest King’s debut as head coach, losing 56-7 to Grays Creek.
St. Pauls aims to bounce back this week as it travels to Fayettveille to face Douglas Byrd, which lost to Jack Britt, 12-0, in its opener.
The Eagles earned a 26-8 win at St. Pauls last season.
South Robeson (0-1) at Trask (1-0)
South Robeson will hit the road after dropping a 35-0 contest to West Bladen last week.
The Titans earned a 44-10 win over South Robeson last season. Trask opened its season with a 16-15 win over Topsail.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.