Rugged Red Devils, high-powered Raiders provide contrast

·5 min read

Sep. 15—EDITOR'S NOTE — This story has been updated from its original form, which included a preview of the Gray's Creek at Purnell Swett game that was postponed Wednesday due to the Rams entering quarantine.

RED SPRINGS — It's no secret the Red Springs football team plays a methodical, ground-and-pound, physical brand of football.

Midway, the Red Devils' Friday opponent, plays a much faster, pass-heavy style, which will present a grand juxtaposition when the teams meet Friday at 7 p.m. in Red Springs.

"I really look forward to a contrast in styles; they like to open it up and speed it up, and we like to do the opposite, so this is is a good-old-fashioned contrast in styles," Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches said.

The Raiders (2-1) are capable of putting big numbers on the scoreboard, with an 80-73 win over Hobbton on Aug. 20 and a 42-12 win last week over Lakewood; they also have a 33-0 loss to South Brunswick.

Johnnie Holland has completed 71.7% of his passes this season for 864 and 13 touchdowns with one interception. Nate Smith (351 receiving yards, five touchdowns) and Casey Culbreth (266 receiving yards, four touchdowns) are Holland's primary targets, while Trey Gregory (221 yards, two touchdowns) leads the run game.

"This is a team that is dangerous and well-coached, with an elite quarterback, and weapons all around. (Smith and Gregory) are weapons. Their offensive line is deep and strong and they're well-coached. ... It comes down to just being sound on defense, and that's what we try to do."

The Red Devils, who haven't played since a 22-8 win at Douglas Byrd on Aug. 20, will be facing a defense that's improved statistically in each outing.

"They're tenacious and scrappy," Ches said. "Their front four are sturdy, their linebackers are aggressive, and their secondary is athletic. They play a lot of guys both ways; they're a typical 2A team."

The teams have met three times in the playoffs over the last 10 years, with Red Springs winning all three including a 27-14 win in the most recent meeting in 2019; they have not previously met in the regular season. Friday's game is the league opener for both teams in the new Southeastern Athletic Conference.

"It just comes down to execution; if we have a good week of practice, if we execute, and we down block, and we win the turnover margin, then we'll have a good chance to win the game," Ches said. "If those things don't happen, I imagine it'll be Midway's victory."

Lumberton at Cape Fear

When Lumberton and Cape Fear met in 2019, it resumed a series that was played every season from 1975-90 and 1997-2012. When they meet again this week, they'll do so as United-8 Conference opponents. The exact game time has not been determined as the Colts come out of quarantine; the game will be played either Saturday or Monday.

Cape Fear (2-0) defeated Riverside-Durham 35-14 and E.E. Smith 28-0 the first two weeks of the season but haven't played since Aug. 27.

Cole Wilson has completed 56% of his passes and thrown for three touchdowns, including two to R.J. McDonald; Wilson is also the team's leading rusher (144 yards), splitting the rushing load with Favour Murtala and Chase Dorsey-Williams.

Lumberton (0-2) has been shut out in both its outings thus far, a 43-0 loss to Hoke County and a 51-0 loss at Laney.

The Pirates lead the all-time series 17-16; Cape Fear won nine straight from 1997-2005, followed by seven straight Lumberton wins from 2006-12, before the Colts won 24-0 in 2019.

Clinton at Fairmont

Clinton joins the Southeastern Athletic Conference after a strong run of conference success in the East Central Conference; they open conference play Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Fairmont.

The Dark Horses (2-0) come to Hal S. Floyd Stadium after dominant wins against Goldsboro in Week 1 and, after a long layoff, Northside-Jacksonville last week.

Clinton has lost one conference game or less in seven of the last eight seasons, including three perfect records in conference play; they are 44-6 in conference play since 2013.

Fairmont has improved each week despite its 0-3 record, with coach Lonnie Cox pointing towards conference play each week as the team has played a tough nonconference slate.

The two schools were conference opponents once before, from 2001-04; Clinton won all four games by an average margin of 26.5 points. Their only other meeting was in 2019 in the first round of the state playoffs, which Clinton won 35-6.

Providence Day at St. Pauls

Providence Day didn't get to come to Robeson County last week as originally scheduled, as their game against Red Springs was canceled, but they'll get to visit the county Friday after adding a game at St. Pauls at 7:30 p.m.

The Chargers (1-2) play in the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association, but have played a varied nonconference schedule, including losses to Charlotte-area NCHSAA member Weddington and Carver High School in Atlanta, and a win last week over the Carolina Bearcats, who play in the Greater Piedmont Independent Athletic Association. Chad Grier, the father of former Carolina Panthers quarterback Will Grier, coaches the team.

Grantt Logan (759 passing yards, 106 rushing yards) has accounted for eight touchdowns for the Chargers; Jordan Shipp (three touchdowns) has been Logan's primary target.

St. Pauls (2-0) has posted dominant wins over Northside-Jacksonville and Union Pines, and added Providence Day to make up for not playing the first two weeks of the season due to quarantine. The Bulldogs start conference play next week at Midway.

Friday will be the first meeting between the schools in football.

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.

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