Mike Brill, a man that has molded high school athletes and meant a great deal to local football since 1992, could be coaching his final game tonight at Lumberton High School.
Known for his nearly untouchable winning percentage over a decade at South Robeson, a rejuvenated Brill has been defense-first during the second half of his career and transformed the 4A Pirates from perennial bottom-dweller to postseason mainstay six years at Lumberton.
He is the school’s second all-time winningest coach behind Tunney Brooks and has an opportunity to capture career win No. 133 tonight if the Pirates get past rival Purnell Swett. And they better. A fourth straight loss to the Rams would likely squash Lumberton’s playoff chances and commence an early start to the offseason.
Week 10 record: 5-0; Overall 40-11
I’m ending the season on a high note after last week’s perfect mark. I’d like to hit an 80 percent accuracy rate entering the playoffs and I’ll need another unblemished week to do so. Of course, yearly picks don’t matter much if I miss the winner of the Swett-Lumberton game.
Purnell Swett (2-7) at Lumberton (4-5)
I’ve had this game circled for at least a month as both teams struggled to navigate through the challenging Southeastern Conference. Here we are with both programs on long losing streaks hoping to end the regular season on a high note. For Lumberton, its season can be extended with a victory. For Swett, a win would mean retaining bragging rights for another year and be the lone bright spot during a challenging year in Pembroke. I’m going against recent history tonight and picking who I believe is the better team this season. Lumberton has more talent and a better defense. But Swett, as always in this battle, owns the intangibles.
Lumberton 21, Swett 7
Red Springs (7-3) at West Columbus (4-6)
Red Springs’ worst enemy at this point of the season? The Red Devils. Overlooking the Vikings tonight on the road could spoil the program’s first unbeaten conference run in eight years and the Three Rivers title wouldn’t taste as sweet — East Columbus would clinch a co-title with a win and Red Springs loss. Dropped passes, penalties, defensive lapses. Those types of mental errors haven’t happened in recent weeks and that’s a good sign for a team set on making it past the third round next month. West Columbus hasn’t scored on Red Springs the past two seasons and I’m sure the Red Devils and defensive coordinator Ron Cook have that in the back of their minds.
Red Springs 42, West Columbus 6
Fairmont (4-6) at St. Pauls (7-3)
St. Pauls is one of two county teams gunning for its eighth win of the regular season which would secure a home playoff game in the process. St. Pauls has made strides defensively and the Bulldogs’ playoff success in the coming weeks depends on how that unit performs. For the most part, St. Pauls has done a good job protecting the football on offense and that needs to continue. Costly mistakes led to a recent blowout lost at East Columbus and could keep the injury-plagued Golden Tornadoes within striking distance this week. For 2AA seeding purposes, the county’s second-best football team really needs to win this one.
St. Pauls 42, Fairmont 18
South Robeson (3-6) at East Columbus (6-4)
The challenges of a long season are beginning to take effect on the South Robeson football team. Throughout this year, the offense has been up and down despite being the main area of emphasis according to first-year coach Stephen Roberson. The Mustangs have platooned quarterbacks, had a handful of running backs share carries in the I-Formation and had trouble hanging onto the football from their wide receivers. Can it all come together tonight against the Gators? Not likely. South Robeson will play a third consecutive challenging road game next week in the postseason, but even if the Mustangs fall in the first round to a higher seed, 2012’s been quite a turnaround for the boys in blue.
East Columbus 44, South Robeson 14