Sandhills Athletic Conference power rankings

By: By Amber Hatten -

LAURINBURG — The Sandhills Athletic Conference standings got quite the shake up, which was expected based on how several key games panned out.

Jack Britt lost to Pinecrest by 10 while Richmond pulled out some Raider Magic to secure a 25-19 win over Seventy-First. With two losses, Jack Britt and Seventy-First are out of the running for the SAC-8 championship. If Scotland defeats Richmond on Friday their reign as conference champions will continue.

If Richmond wins, the two rivals will have to share the first SAC-8 title as co-champions.

As always, if you don’t like where I slotted your team, we can have a discussion about it via phone, e-mail, or social media — but please, leave the pitchforks at home.

Without further adieu, here are my rankings entering Week 12.

1. Scotland (8-1, 6-0)

The first play from scrimmage set the tone for Friday’s trouncing of Lumberton. Senior defensive back Manny Smith picked off Lumberton’s Braylan Grice and ran the interception back 50-yards for a touchdown.

The Scots scored in all three facets of the game, Smith’s interception, seven offensive touchdowns and a blocked punt in the end zone.

Scotland out gained Lumberton in total yardage 489-185 to secure a 49-point victory.

The SAC-8 title will, as the SEC title always did, come down to Scotland or Richmond on Friday night in Laurinburg.

Next up for Scotland: a home game against Richmond.

2. Richmond (7-3, 5-1)

Raider Magic strikes again. Seventy-First had Richmond dead to rights with two minutes left in last week’s game. The Raiders were pinned inside their own four-yard line and somehow two plays later they were in the end zone winning the game.

Freshman quarterback Caleb Hood found junior wide out Jahyee Stanback on back-to-back passes, the second being an 86-yard touchdown catch and run. Richmond went for two and the reverse pass from Kaleb Douglas found Hood wide open in the end zone, to give the Raiders the 25-19 win over Seventy-First.

The Raiders are alone in second place behind Scotland, if they win Friday’s game in Laurinburg they would be co-SAC-8 champions. If they lose they will either share second place with Seventy-First or drop to third place behind Jack Britt — depending on the outcome of the game between the Falcons and the Buccaneers.

Next up for Richmond: a road game against Richmond.

3. Seventy-First (7-3, 4-2)

Seventy-First experienced its first taste of Raider Magic. Leading 19-17 with two minutes left, the Falcons had Richmond pinned back the four-yard line but two plays later the Raiders were in the end zone. It was one of those games that the Raiders shouldn’t have won, but did — that’s Raider Magic.

Seventy-First ends the season with a home game against Jack Britt the conference’s other 4-2 team. Both teams are out of the running for the conference title, but are playing for better seeding and potentially home-field advantage in the playoffs next week.

Next up for Seventy-First: a home game against Jack Britt.

4. Jack Britt (6-4, 4-2)

Jack Britt’s 10-point loss to Pinecrest knocked them out of contention for the SAC-8 title, that combined with Richmond’s win over Seventy-First.

Pinecrest jumped out to a 10-7 lead after the first half, but Jack Britt didn’t panic and put another six points on the board to take a 13-10 lead into halftime. The Patriots responded with 13 unanswered points in the third quarter to secure the 23-13 win as both teams were scoreless in the final 12 minutes.

Jack Britt had 230 yards of total offense while Pinecrest tallied 325 yards.

The difference maker was the two interceptions Jack Britt quarterback Brennan Shortridge threw that left the door open for Pinecrest.

Next up for Jack Britt: a road game against Seventy-First.

5. Pinecrest (6-4, 3-3)

Pinecrest capitlized on mistakes by Jack Britt to earn its third conference win. Pinecrest jumped out to a 10-7 lead after the first half, but Jack Britt didn’t panic and put another six points on the board to take a 13-10 lead into halftime. The Patriots responded with 13 unanswered points in the third quarter to secure the 23-13 win as both teams were scoreless in the final 12 minutes.

The highest the Patriots could finish in the conference is fourth, good news for Pinecrest the lowest they will finish is fifth with three wins they are leaps and bounds ahead of Purnell and Hoke.

Next up for Pinecrest: a road game against Hoke.

6. Lumberton (2-8, 1-5)

The Pirates struggled from the first snap against Scotland as Braylan Grice opened the game with a pick six. In spite of the pick six and a passing touchdown by Scotland, Grice led the Pirates on a methodical drive which was capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Lumberton’s captain.

Lumberton’s one-touchdown deficit quickly increased to a five touchdown deficit before the Pirates found the end zone a second time.

The Pirates have a winnable game to end the season against a sputtering Purnell Swett team.

Next up for Lumberton: a road game against Purnell Swett.

7. Purnell Swett (4-6, 1-5)

It was a low scoring affair as the SAC-8s two win-less teams met on Friday. Purnell broke their six-game losing streak with a 21-14 win over Hoke. The Rams were in a hole early as Hoke scored two touchdowns courtesy of numerous Purnell turnovers.

Purnell’s defense held it’s ground in the second half to hold onto their one-touchdown lead. The score-less second half saw the Rams earn their first win since Week 3 against Douglas Byrd.

Depending on how the seeding goes, there is a slim chance that Purnell could make it into the 4A playoffs.

Next up for Purnell Swett: a home game against Lumberton.

8. Hoke (0-10, 0-6)

The battle of the SAC-8s bottom two teams saw Hoke’s defense put up an impressive fight.

Jaleel Prather, Keeon Roper and Brenden Burney, recovered a fumble, caused a fumble and blocked a punt to keep the Bucks in the game. Despite the defense’s best efforts, Hoke’s offense couldn’t get anything going only scoring two touchdowns in the first half.

It’s unlikely the Bucks will earn a win this season as they close out 2017 with a home game against Pinecrest.

Next up for Hoke: a home game against Pinecrest.

Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.

By Amber Hatten