LUMBERTON — Not only has the Lumberton football team not won a game in its three outings this fall, but the Pirates have yet to score a point.
They’ll look to change their offensive identity — and their fortunes on that side of the ball — when they host United-8 Conference foe Jack Britt Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“We’ve got to move the ball,” Pirates coach Adam Deese said. “We’re going to change our identity on the offensive side of the ball; we’re going to be smashmouth from here on out. We’re very engaged, we’re very excited about the way it took place (Monday), with guys getting downhill. Hopefully these changes will carry over and we can pick up some first downs and get our team the ball.”
The Pirates (0-3, 0-1 United-8) lost 44-0 to Hoke County on Aug. 27, 51-0 at Laney on Sept. 3 and 41-0 at Cape Fear in their league opener Saturday.
The team’s defense hasn’t played that poorly, Deese said, but has simply been placed in extremely difficult circumstances by the team’s inability to move the ball.
“We gave up two blown coverages for two plays, and the other four touchdowns were gift-wrapped to them from the punt, the pick-six, the fumble on the 3-yard line,” Deese said. “Those are things that we’ve got to do a better job of offensively, not putting ourselves in a bad situation on special teams and offensively.”
Deese said he hopes the answer is in what he calls a “smashmouth” brand of offense, a physical, run-heavy attack.
“From our schemes right now, we’re going to change our blocking assignments and we want to play smashmouth football,” Deese said. “We’re going back to old school, downhill and I’m excited to see what takes place Friday.”
Jack Britt (1-2, 1-0 United-8) lost 8-7 to Pine Forest and 35-12 to Terry Sanford in the first two weeks of the season, then after a pause due to COVID-19 protocols, defeated Douglas Byrd 49-0 Friday.
The Buccaneers have run the ball on about 78% of their offensive plays so far this season, led by Sincere Baines (192 rushing yards, four touchdowns) and Jamell Vereen (186 yards, three touchdowns). Josiah Burbank (12-for-23 passing, 175 yards, one touchdown) is the starting quarterback; Baines is also his primary passing target (107 receiving yards, one touchdown).
“They’ve played some great teams and they were missing some players, and they’ve got most of those guys back, so they’re going to come out full-steam ahead. (Coach Brian Randolph) is looking to go to the playoffs as well,” Deese said. “He’s a great coach and they’re going to be fundamentally sound — but we’ve got to be that much better.”
In addition to making sure the Pirates are ready to give the Buccaneers their best schematically, Deese also wants to make sure they’re prepared mentally and physically.
“We’ve got to have a big week of practice this week and challenge our kids’ mental toughness, and our physical toughness, so that’s going to be the big thing going into this week is bringing that sledgehammer, and we’ve got to be the hammer and not the nail,” Deese said. “That’s our biggest thing is creating that physicality. And growing this group, maturing this group, letting them know never to give up, no matter what the circumstances are, so that’s what we’re challenging them each and every day with. … They’re not quitting, everybody’s still engaged and our kids are still upbeat, so I’m excited to see that, with a young team especially.”
Jack Britt has won nine out of 10 all-time meetings against Lumberton, including six straight; the Buccaneers won the most-recent meeting 48-7 in 2019.
Fairmont at West Bladen
Perhaps the best chance so far for Fairmont to earn its first win under coach Lonnie Cox will come this week as the Golden Tornadoes travel to West Bladen.
The Knights (1-1, 0-0 Southeastern Athletic Conference), who did not play a game until Sept. 3, have a 55-6 loss to South Brunswick and a 26-20 overtime win at East Columbus on their resume.
West Bladen has taken a running-back-by-committee approach so far this season, with eight different players earning carries and none with more than 16; Hezekiah Adams is the Knights’ leading rusher with 116 yards and two touchdowns. Adams and Devon Strange have split snaps at quarterback; Adams has had more success, with 135 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Fairmont (0-4, 0-1 Southeastern), whose opponents’ win percentage this season has been .875, according to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s just-released RPI ratings, is coming off a 56-6 loss to Clinton in its conference opener last week.
Fairmont has won four straight meetings, including a 34-30 outcome in the spring that was the team’s only win of the season. Fairmont leads the all-time series 8-7.
Red Springs football team enters quarantine
The Red Springs football program is in quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols as of Monday, athletic director Glenn Patterson confirmed to The Robesonian.
Both the varsity and junior varsity teams entered quarantine.
Friday’s varsity game at Clinton and the Oct. 1 home game against West Bladen are both postponed; the Red Devils are exploring makeup options.
The varsity team is currently scheduled to resume its season on Oct. 8 at home against East Bladen.
This is the first time the entirety of the Red Devils team has been in quarantine this season; the team was unable to play from Weeks 2 through 4 due to several individuals having to quarantine due to non-football exposures to the virus.
The Red Devils defeated Douglas Byrd 22-8 on Aug. 20 and lost 49-22 to Midway on Friday.
Red Springs is the third Robeson County football team currently in quarantine, joining Purnell Swett, who entered quarantine for a third time this season last week, and St. Pauls, who also entered quarantine last week.