RAEFORD — Call this one the “Battle for Respect.”
Hoke County rebounded from its 49-14 loss to Richmond Senior in the Southeastern Conference opener to paste Lumberton 35-7 last week. The victory over the Pirates marked the first time this season the Bucks defeated a team with a winning record.
Now that Hoke has virtually locked down a playoff berth with its 7-1 record, the team needs to take the next step and win more than one conference game as it has the last three years. Getting a victory over eighth-ranked Scotland will go a long way for the Bucks to getting respect in the region and state.
The Fighting Scots are tied with Richmond atop the SEC standings and look primed to repeat as conference champions this season. After losing to New Hanover in Week 2, Scotland has rattled off five straight victories and sports the league’s best scoring defense.
While Hoke and Scotland will fight it out at Raz Autry Stadium, Purnell Swett will try to keep its faint playoff hopes alive when Pinecrest visits “Big” Mo Stadium. The Rams are 0-2 in the conference and 2-5 overall, but still in contention for a playoff berth if they were to pick up at least two wins in their last three games.
The Patriots, on the other hand, have a chance to move above the .500 mark in league play at 2-1 and try to muck things up at the top of the standings.
Scotland at Hoke County
Coaches: Richard Bailey, Scotland. Milton Butts, Hoke County.
Records: Scotland 6-1, 2-0. Hoke County 7-1, 1-1.
Last game: Scotland jumped out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead and cruised past Pinecrest 34-11. The Fighting Scots had five players record rushing touchdowns in the victory. Detrez Newsome failed to break the 100-yard mark for the second straight game, but the senior running back found the end zone three times to lead Hoke past Lumberton 35-7.
Key matchup: Scotland’s defense vs. Hoke’s Detrez Newsome. The Fighting Scots have the SEC’s best defense, allowing just 8.9 points per contest. Last week, Pinecrest became the third opponent to score in double figures against Scotland this season. Richmond defensive coordinator James Johnson said the Bucks don’t have a big playbook, but what they do, they do well. Hoke’s main objective is to get Newsome going early and for most of the year the senior running back has responded. After being bottled up against the Raiders, Newsome found a little more running room against Lumberton, rushing for 92 yards and three touchdowns.
Pinecrest at Purnell Swett
Coaches: Chris Metzger, Pinecrest. Mark Heil, Purnell Swett.
Records: Pinecrest 4-4, 1-1. Purnell Swett 2-5, 0-2.
Last game: Pinecrest was unable to generate much offense against Scotland last week in a 34-11 loss. The Patriots got a 23-yard field goal from Jackson Maples before halftime and Dwayne Simpson scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter. Purnell Swett had a chance to take the lead on Richmond with a field-goal attempt in the first quarter. The kick was block and the Raiders picked up the loose ball and raced down the field for the game’s first score. Richmond would find the end zone seven more times in a 56-0 victory.
Key matchup: Pinecrest’s Veer attack vs. Purnell Swett’s defense. Pinecrest coach Chris Metzger made the bold move of having Dwayne Simpson switch from running back to quarterback after four games. Even though Simpson is a runner by trade, Metzger thought his senior made improvements as a passer in the loss to Scotland last week. Simpson was 8-of-17 for 91 yards and ran for another 92 on 25 carries. After allowing 485 yards of offense and 56 points to Richmond and surrendering 42 points to Scotland, Purnell Swett gets a bit of a breather against Pinecrest tonight. The Patriots aren’t as potent as either the Fighting Scots or the Raiders, but they are scoring 24.4 points a game, while the Rams are allowing a league-worst 33.2 points per outing.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.