August 13, 2010
When it comes to "Friday Night Lights" in North Carolina, it doesn't get any better than the Southeastern 4A conference. The atmosphere for football games at any of these schools is exciting, and this season will be no exception. This season, the league is so balanced that any team can beat any other team on any given night. There's no "upper tier" or "lower tier" as in other high school conferences. Predicting this conference is gonna be tricky. I'm not sure if the coaches or the media got it right when they did their polls. Heck, I think I'll give it a shot.
2010 Southeastern 4A predicted standings
(1) Richmond County, 5-0 conference, 10-1
(2) Lumberton, 4-1, 9-2
(3T) Hoke County, 2-3, 6-5
(3T) Pinecrest, 2-3, 7-4
(3T) Scotland County, 2-3, 5-6
(6) Purnell Swett, 0-5, 5-6
Until someone knows them off, Richmond County is still "king of the hill" in the SE 4A until someone knocks them off. I don't think the Raiders have ever had to "rebuild." They just reload. And, in the history of the school, there has been only one losing season.
Lumberton will be strong this season. Lots of good athletes on that team. And, the Pirates do run that tricky Wing-T offense.
Scotland County and Hoke County will be the most improved teams in the conference and will give conference teams lots to worry about. Scotland County I feel will turn the corner after two consecutive losing seasons and win some games plyus make a playoff appearance in the third year of the Chip Williams coaching regime. Hoke County will be much improved under new head coach Milton Butts and folks will be trying their best to stop running back Christian Russell, who transferred to Hoke County from Westover.
Don't count out Purnell Swett. The Rams are very well coached and not to be taken too lightly. They gave Pinecrest a good scare last season.
Now, if you haven't noticed the rise of Pinecrest football the past few seasons, either you're blind or have been living in a cave somewhere. Coach Chris Metzger has changed the atmosphere at Pinecrest where folks have to show up early to get a seat for home games and don't mind following the team on the road.
When trying to come up with these predictions though, it just seemed to me that Pinecrest, Hoke County and Scotland County are fairly even. Since the arrival of Coach Metzger, the Patriots can now "reload" instead of having to "rebuild." And I have a feeling that these three teams would probably go 1-1 in head-to-head matchups. The Patriots however, will NOT be tested during the non-conference portion of the schedule and that could hurt them when conference play begins. But, Patriots fans should look forward to another winning season and playoff run.