PEMBROKE — Making sure that his team doesn’t look past South Robeson has caused Purnell Swett coach Jon Sherman to take Thursday’s game with a heightened awareness this week during practice.
“To be honest, I’ve been more worried about South Robeson than I have been against anybody so far,” Sherman said. “Just because the kids won last year and our mentality might be, ‘Oh, if we beat somebody we will always beat somebody,’ it’s not true.”
The Rams (1-1) are coming off a 43-20 win over Red Springs last week and host South Robeson on Thursday at 7 p.m., due to a chance of inclement weather for Friday.
All games featuring county teams will now be played on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Purnell Swett won 21-8 last year in Rowland and Sherman hopes his team doesn’t get a sense of complacency riding the wave of emotion from the win over Red Springs.
“They’re excited, but it’s not like we’re going to just show up and beat people,” Sherman said. “We were beaten almost every game last year so they’ve got to understand that it’s going to be a hard mental practice.”
South Robeson (0-2) lost to Trask 42-12 and is in search of its first win.
“Our younger guys have played hard, but it’s hard to win when you put the ball on the ground a lot,” said South Robeson coach Clay Jerningan of his team’s tendency to fumble over the first two games. “A lot of our backs are not experienced at playing at the varsity level yet.”
The Mustangs’ first two opponents have started the season off 2-0 and with a road game against a much larger school in Purnell Swett set for Thursday, Jernigan sees how these games can help his team moving forward.
“You don’t get better by playing down, you get better by playing up,” he said of the matchup. “I’ve really challenged the kids by playing tough teams now so that way it can prepare them for when we get to conference games.”
In preparation for the Mustangs, Sherman hasn’t changed his defensive approach as Purnell Swett sets to take on its third straight run-heavy team.
“The past three weeks in the sets we’ve seen on film are basically the same thing,” Sherman said. “It’s the same mentality as far as stopping the run and being controlled in the pass and not letting anything slip past by us.”
With a stout defense that held Red Springs in check last week, it’s the Rams’ offense and its use of no-huddle and hurry-up schemes that concern Jernigan most.
“That’s one thing I don’t know if our kids are ready for,” he said of Purnell Swett’s fast-paced offense. “It’s a smart move because you’re a bigger school with a bigger roster to do that.”
Lumberton at South View
After putting on a defensive showcase in it’s season-opening shutout, the Lumberton defense didn’t look as sharp in Week 2 against Pine Forest in a 49-7 loss at home. The Pirates (1-1) travel to South View for their first road game of the season. In the the meeting last year at Lumberton, the Tigers won 19-14. Senior Tyreik McCallum is the only Pirate to score in both games this season.
Red Springs at Harrells Christian
Looking to build off the second half of last week’s loss at Purnell Swett, Red Springs travels to Harrells Christian Academy this week. Last year, Red Springs (1-1) won by forfeit. After being shutout in the first half last week, the Red Devils went score for score with the Rams behind two rushing touchdowns by Marquis Ray.
St. Pauls at East Bladen
After giving Ernest King his first win at St. Pauls with a 12-6 victory on the road at Douglas Byrd, the Bulldogs travel to East Bladen, who is fresh off blowing out Whiteville 43-15. The Eagles downed St. Pauls 54-10 last year. The game will feature a clash of running games with St. Pauls (1-1) tailback Chris Graham coming off a 154-yard performance and East Bladen’s Eian and Ethan Hines combining for 283 yards against Whiteville.
Fairmont at Ashley
The Golden Tornadoes are the other Robeson County team still looking for win No. 1 after suffering sizable losses in the first two weeks. Run defense has still been an issue that has plagued Fairmont (0-2) as it goes to Ashley, a team it beat 26-14 last year. Through two games, quarterback Julius Caulder and wide receiver Jarique Moore have connected for 11 receptions, 305 yards and four touchdowns.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.