In years past, all of the Southeastern Conference football teams normally took the week off prior to opening league play.
Four of the schools — Richmond, Pinecrest, Lumberton and Purnell Swett — continued that tradition, while Scotland and Hoke County elected to schedule their open date in Week 6.
With all six SEC schools completing their nonconference slate, let’s take a quick glance at the teams and give them a midseason grade.
At the head of the class is Scotland with an A.
The Fighting Scots have taken care of business, winning by an average of 23.6 points a game. The margin of victory would be greater, but Scotland struggled to find its offensive footing in a seven-point win at Marlboro County (S.C.).
Scotland’s strength of schedule is respectable with its six opponents combining to post a 23-15 record. The only losing team Scotland has faced thus far was Goldsboro, a 2A school.
Coach Richard Bailey called his team out on its lackadaisical play against Goldsboro and heading into SEC action that has to improve to remain at the top.
Right behind Scotland is Richmond with a B+.
Like their rivals to the east, the Raiders’ margin of victory is in double digits at 17.2 points a game. Richmond’s lone loss this season came against the defending 4AA state champions, Butler, at home by 17 points.
The Raiders’ opponents have a 25-14 record and none have a losing record, although both Anson and Myrtle Beach (S.C.) are 3-3.
While the offense is Richmond’s calling card, averaging 48.7 points a game, the defense has been its Achilles Heel, surrendering 31.5 points.
If the Raiders hope to reclaim the SEC title, the defense has to find a way to stop the opposition.
Despite being one of the SEC’s undefeated team along with Scotland, Pinecrest receives a B+.
The biggest thing pulling down this grade is the strength of schedule. The Patriots have played one winless team and two others with one victory. The only squad with a winning record is 3A Douglas Byrd at 4-2. The six schools have a combined 12-28 record.
The Patriots are the biggest mystery heading into the SEC because it is hard to tell if they are truly contenders or pretenders.
Purnell Swett and Hoke County both earn D+ grades.
Even though the Rams have two wins compared to just one for the Bucks, those victories have come against 2A opposition, which pulls their mark down. In addition, one of their losses was to 3A Anson.
Purnell Swett’s opponents are 23-15 this year and include Pine Forest and Hoggard, which are both 6-1. Hoke County’s schedule isn’t as strong, but the teams are still 21-17, led by South View’s 6-1 mark.
Lumberton despite being winless in six contests avoids earning a failing grade only because of its difficult schedule. Because of this the Pirates will receive a D-.
Lumberton’s opposition has a combined 30-11 mark and includes three 6-1 teams — Hoggard, Pine Forest and South View.
It will be interesting to see in the final five weeks of the regular season if any of the six SEC teams improve or lower their grades.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.