Rankings hold steady at the top

By Logan Martinez - [email protected]

With the opening week of the high school football season in the books, not much has changed in this edition of the Southeastern 4A Conference Power Rankings.

The elite programs in the SEC — Scotland, Richmond and Pinecrest — performed as expected while the bottom tier — Hoke, Lumberton and Purnell Swett — all lost in their season openers.

A new addition I’ve added to the power rankings this week and for the rest of the season is a prediction of how I think each game will play out.

As always, if you don’t like where I slotted your team, we can have a fruitful discussion about it through a friendly phone call, email, or on social media — but leave the pitchforks at home, please.

Without further ado, here are my rankings entering Week 2.

1. Scotland (1-0)

The Scots didn’t open the season with the dominant performance that coach Richard Bailey wanted — South View returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, totaled more than 200 rushing yards, and Scotland committed 15 penalties.

But an efficient performance by backup quarterback Sergio Gibson, who completed 6 of 10 passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns, and dominant play from tailback Zamir White was more than enough to tame the Tigers. White scored three total touchdowns and racked up nearly 300 yards from scrimmage in the Scots’ 47-25 victory.

Injuries have taken a toll on Scotland’s depth to begin the year, however, as starting signal caller Dashaun Ferguson and receiver Willie Douglas continue to miss time, and various ailments have plagued the secondary as well.

Next up for Scotland: a trip to Charlotte to take on Independence (0-1). The Patriots were thumped 58-6 by crosstown rival Mallard Creek in Week 1.

Prediction: Scotland 26, Independence 21

2. Pinecrest (1-0)

The Patriots entered the season with lofty expectations, and they didn’t disappoint in their opening contest against Overhills. Nine different Pinecrest players had at least one rushing attempt as the Patriots tallied 358 yards and six total touchdowns on the ground in the 51-8 road win.

The Pinecrest defense intercepted two passes and held the Jaguars to less than 250 yards of total offense.

All-SEC quarterback Christian Ledbetter didn’t turn in an impressive box score, but he didn’t have to as the Patriots cruised from start to finish. Carson Maples was the star of the game, starting the game at linebacker while also totting the ball three times on offense for 101 yards and a pair of scores.

Next up for Pinecrest: its home opener, where the Patriots will host Riverside (1-0). The Pirates opened the season with a 24-7 win at Chapel Hill last week.

Prediction: Pinecrest 35, Riverside 13

3. Richmond (1-0)

The Raiders opened the Mike Castellano era with an impressive 34-7 victory over Rocky River at home.

Richmond’s offense continues to be a work in progress as they adjust to Castellano’s new system, totaling only 229 total yards against the Ravens, but the defense and special teams more than made up for that. The Raiders blocked a punt and returned another for a score, and the defense only allowed 168 total yards.

Leon Zeigler was solid in his first start under Castellano, completing 16 of 25 passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns.

Next up for Richmond: a road contest in Wadesboro to face Anson (0-1). The Bearcats were defeated by Forest Hills 13-6 in their season opener.

Prediction: Richmond 41, Anson 6

4. Hoke (0-1)

The Bucks put forth a valiant effort at home last weekend, losing 48-26 to New Hanover.

Hoke trailed 20-6 after the first quarter and Tom Paris’ team found itself down by as many as three scores in the second half, but the Bucks rallied to make it a one-possession game before running out of gas in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Kevin Thorpe tossed two touchdowns in his first start, but also threw three interceptions. All-SEC running back Jacob Rushing totaled 137 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns, and Quinn Maynor, one of the more underrated defensive players in the conference, recorded 22 tackles and a sack in the losing effort.

Next up for Hoke: a road game in Hope Mills to battle Jack Britt (1-0). The Buccaneers defeated Douglas Byrd in their season opener, 26-0.

Prediction: Jack Britt 24, Hoke 20

5. Lumberton (0-1)

The Pirates traveled to Wilson in Week 1 to play Hunt and fell behind 28-0 before mounting a near-comeback attempt.

Lumberton scored three unanswered touchdowns in the final quarter and recovered an onside kick in an attempt to notch a fourth, but the referees determined that the ball didn’t travel the required 10 yards.

Freshman quarterback Braylon Grice was uneven in his first career start, completing 5 of 16 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. He also had 76 rushing yards on 11 carries, and tailback Troy Mitchell rushed for 108 yards and two scores in the loss.

Next up for Lumberton: a trip to Fayetteville to play Pine Forest (1-0). The Trojans shut down Lumberton’s rival, Purnell Swett, in Week 1, winning 30-0.

Prediction: Lumberton 27, Pine Forest 23

6. Purnell Swett (0-1)

It was a rough debut for Jon Sherman at his new school, as the Rams were blanked by Pine Forest 30-0.

Purnell Swett were down 14-0 after the opening quarter, then a mishandled snap resulted in a safety to put the Trojans up 16-0 to begin the second half.

The Rams forced three second-half turnovers but were unable to capitalize on any of them as the offense struggled to maintain traction. Quarterback Lucas Oxendine had a 51-yard run that was the highlight of the evening for the Rams, but otherwise, they were held in check.

Up next for Purnell Swett: a trip to Red Springs for a tilt against the Red Devils (1-0). Red Springs defeated the Sandhills Titans 52-6 in Week 1.

Prediction: Red Springs 28, Purnell Swett 14

Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.


By Logan Martinez

[email protected]

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