LAURINBURG — There’s still plenty of games to be played this season, but the first two weeks of Sandhills Athletic Conference football action gave several teams a chance to establish themselves as contenders in the league.
Here’s how the SAC teams stack up heading into this week. These rankings are based on a variety of factors including records, streaks, team statistics, injuries, upcoming games and individual performances.
None of the league’s eight teams changed their positions from last week’s rankings.
1. Richmond (5-1, 2-0 SAC)
The Raiders carry a four-game winning streak into their game against winless Hoke this week.
Running back Jaheim Covington passed the century mark for the second time this season with 142 yards on the ground in a 31-8 win against Jack Britt last week.
After playing Hoke this week, the Raiders travel to Lumberton to take on the struggling Pirates.
2. Seventy-First (5-1, 2-0 SAC)
The Falcons didn’t have much trouble handling Lumberton during a 42-7 win over the Pirates last week. Running back Sincere Bates rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown for Seventy-First, and receiver Camari Williams caught two touchdown passes.
Scotland visits Seventy-First on Friday as the Falcons celebrate their homecoming week. After playing the Scots, the Falcons take on Purnell Swett, Richmond, Jack Britt and Pinecrest in a challenging stretch to end the regular season.
3. Scotland (3-2, 2-0 SAC)
The Fighting Scots earned their second win in a row last week with a 28-27 victory in overtime against Hoke. The Scots now have a chance to put themselves in contention at the top of the conference when they play at Seventy-First on Friday.
Running back-linebacker Syheam “Smiley” McQueen, who scored the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion against Hoke, is expected to make a full return from injury against the Falcons. McQueen missed two games while recovering from an MCL sprain earlier in the season, and he only appeared in overtime against the Bucks last week.
4. Pinecrest (4-2, 1-1 SAC)
One week after being shut out at home by Richmond, the Patriots rebounded with a 58-7 win at Purnell Swett.
Led by running back Zaythan Hill, who is averaging 125 rushing yards per game, the Patriots will look to stay in the win column when they face Lumberton on Monday. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, but it was rescheduled due to the potential effects of Hurricane Michael.
5. Jack Britt (2-4, 1-1 SAC)
After seeing its two-game winning streak come to an end with a loss to Richmond last week, Jack Britt has a less challenging matchup this week against Purnell Swett.
The Buccaneers have 21 seniors on their roster, and that experience could help them as they host the struggling Rams before playing at Hoke next week. Jack Britt will need senior running back Chancellor Johnson, who averages just under 70 rushing yards per game, to step up as they try to finish the season on a good note after starting the campaign by losing three consecutive games.
6. Purnell Swett (2-3, 0-2 SAC)
The Rams haven’t been able to get back after the combination of a bye week and Hurricane Florence kept them from playing a game for three consecutive weeks.
Purnell Swett lost 58-7 to Pinecrest at home last week after losing to Scotland on the road.
With games on the road Jack Britt and at home against Seventy-First next on the schedule, things aren’t going to get easier for the Rams.
7. Lumberton (1-5, 0-2 SAC)
The disastrous start to Lumberton’s first season under head coach Kelly Williamson continued last week with a 42-7 loss against Seventy-First.
It was the team’s most lopsided loss of the season – Lumberton’s previous four losses were by a combined average of nine points – and the Pirates are now have a tough stretch of games against Pinecrest, Richmond and Scotland. That is not an ideal sequence for a team that is looking to right the ship.
8. Hoke (0-6, 0-2 SAC)
Hoke suffered a heartbreaking loss in overtime against Scotland last week. The Bucks have no time to recover from that defeat, as they travel to Richmond to take on the Raiders this week.
Xavier Ford showed off his athleticism with 104 rushing yards against the Scots. That performance may have generated some momentum for the dual-threat quarterback as he prepares to lead Hoke’s offense against one of the best teams in the conference.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.