The “Big 3” of Scotland, Pinecrest and Richmond once again annihilated the bottom of the conference last week as the three powerhouses outscored Lumberton, Purnell Swett and Hoke by a combined scored of 154-21.
While those slate of games were underwhelming, Southeastern Conference fans are in for another treat this week as the No. 2 and No. 3 in my power rankings are set to battle tonight in Southern Pines.
Pinecrest, which checked in at No. 6 in the Associated Press 4A poll this week, will host No. 10 Richmond Senior in one of the premier SEC matchups this season. The Patriots already experienced a big-game atmosphere two weeks ago when it traveled to Pate Stadium to play Scotland, and the tilt against the Raiders looms just as large in the conference race.
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 11.
1. Scotland (9-0, 3-0)
The Scots handled Hoke on homecoming a week ago, scoring the first 35 points of the game on their way to a 48-14 victory.
Richard Bailey’s team continues to show it can rack up yards through the air as well as on the ground — quarterback Dashaun Ferguson was a perfect 6-for-6 for 177 yards with three touchdown passes. Zamir White rushed 11 times for 138 yards and three scores.
One week after receiver Randy Leak hauled in 12 catches for 128 yards and a touchdown in the Scots’ dramatic win against Pinecrest, the senior did not have a pass come his way against the Bucks. But Willie Douglas responded with three catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns, further showcasing the amount of weapons this Scotland team possesses.
The Scots’ defense, which has played well most of the season but isn’t known for forcing turnovers, recovered three fumbles in the win against Hoke. Defensive lineman Keyshawn Covington scooped up one fumble in the third quarter and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown.
Up next for Scotland: a trip to Lumberton to play the Pirates.
Prediction: Scotland 45, Lumberton 14
2. Pinecrest (8-1, 2-1)
The Patriots rebounded from a heart-wrenching loss to Scotland the Friday before to shutout Purnell Swett 42-0 a week ago in Southern Pines.
Pinecrest didn’t put up gaudy offensive numbers against the Rams, but it didn’t need to as the defense held the visitors from Pembroke off the scoreboard while allowing only 84 total yards. Chris Metzger’s team led 42-0 at the break and before calling off the dogs in the second half.
Carson Maples, a standout linebacker on the team, accounted for three touchdowns in the victory. He rushed for two scores, and returned a punt 25 yards to the house.
Quarterback Christian Ledbetter was 7 of 13 for 97 yards, and he rushed for a 3-yard touchdown. Sam Williams and Jaren Lubrano also combined for two scores.
Up next for Pinecrest: a home game against Richmond in what should be one of the SEC’s best contests this season.
Prediction: Pinecrest 24, Richmond 20
3. Richmond (8-1, 3-0)
The Raiders completed their three-game stretch against the bottom tier of the SEC last week, routing Lumberton 54-7.
Mike Castellano’s squad scored 51 of those points in the first half which activated the running clock for the final 24 minutes.
Leon Zeigler had another big game through the air, completing 7 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. The junior signal caller leads the SEC with 26 touchdown passes this season. Lavell Ellerbe caught two of those scores and had 108 receiving yards.
Richmond’s production on the ground has been inconsistent this season given the success it traditionally had when Paul Hoggard was coach, but the Raiders found success rushing the ball against the Pirates. Damontre Bennett had his first 100-yard game as a Raider, and Quientel Goodwin wasn’t far behind with 70 yards and two touchdowns.
Richmond continues to play well on defense and special teams as the units combined for two scores. Steven Jones returned an interception back for a touchdown, and Daryus Skinner took a punt back to the house for the second straight week.
4. Lumberton (4-5, 1-2)
The Pirates have alternated wins and losses in their past four games, and dropped its most recent contest against Richmond.
While freshman quarterback Braylan Grice has performed admirably for a first-year quarterback this season, last week’s effort against the Raiders was far from his best effort. Grice completed just 3 of 10 passes for 10 yards while throwing an interception.
Lumberton did have moderate success running the ball. Troy Mitchell toted the rock 17 times for 102 yards in the loss. The senior eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau for the season and is second in the SEC in rushing behind Zamir White.
5. Purnell Swett (1-8, 0-3)
The Rams’ offensive struggles this season under new coach Jon Sherman have been well documented, but Purnell Swett reached a new low in its loss to Pinecrest.
Lucas Oxendine averaged 3.5 yards per pass attempt, going 11-for-24 for 84 yards and an interception. Special teams blunders also doomed Purnell Swett’s upset bid, as the Patriots returned a punt for a touchdown and nearly brought back another for a score.
Pinecrest inserted its backups in the second half, but Purnell Swett was still unable to find the end zone against the Patriots’ second- and third-team units.
It’s the second time the Rams have been shut out this season, and through nine games they are averaging just 9.3 points per contest.
Up next for Purnell Swett: Its first SEC game against a non-Big 3 school. The Rams are set to host Hoke.
Prediction: Hoke 29, Purnell Swett 21
6. Hoke (0-9, 0-3)
Tom Paris’ team lost its 12th straight game dating back to last season, falling behind 35-0 at halftime before succumbing to a 34-point defeat at Scotland.
A week after piling up the rushing yards against Lumberton, the Bucks were unable to sustain any success on the ground against the Scots. Hoke had three 100-yard rushers in the loss against the Pirates but only totaled 95 versus Scotland’s stout defense.
Kevin Thorpe completed 5 of 12 passes for 117 yards, and Andre Pegues caught three balls for 75 yards. Pegues also accounted for both of Hoke’s rushing touchdowns, running for a pair of scores in the third quarter.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.