Earl’s Projections Week 5

Editor’s Note:

Due to COVID-19 protocols, the following changes have been made to the current and upcoming Cumberland County high school football schedule:
This week’s Seventy-First at South View varsity and junior varsity games have been postponed. School officials will attempt to reschedule the games.
Purnell Swett High School’s football team is in quarantine. They will not return to play until Sept. 29. Their Sept. 17 game with Gray’s Creek and Sept. 24 game with Cape Fear have been canceled. 

I’ve been asked more than once this year if I’ve ever experienced a time like this. The answer obviously has been no.

I remember years where weather was a problem. Hurricanes in the late summer and fall and snow in the winter have disrupted game schedules.

But we’ve never had a situation like this where, week to week, we are waiting to see if there is a positive COVID-19 test or a cluster of cases that will force things to shut down.

Another problem, and no one is to blame for this, is that the situation is unbelievably fluid. Everyone involved with making key decisions about the health and safety of athletes and coaches is trying to find the most current information possible about preventing the spread of the virus.

That means a landscape that’s constantly changing, which also means the rules of engagement, as one anonymous athletic official told me, are sometimes changing by the minute.

We haven’t come up with any major development beyond the three basics we were told when the pandemic started: wear masks, wash your hands and maintain your distance from everyone else.

So armed with hand sanitizer, face coverings and common sense, let us keep venturing out into the brave new world we face every day. I’m confident we’re going to win this. It’s just going to take diligence and patience.

The record: 13-6

Last week’s already abbreviated schedule was cut shorter when the Terry Sanford at Kernersville Glenn game was canceled.

The good news for me is I finally had a perfect picking week, going 2-0 on the only games that were played.

The season total improves slightly to 13-6, 68.4 percent, still a way to go to the benchmark 75 percent but getting there.

Barring any COVID-19 issues we’ve got a full county schedule this week, so let’s hope for the best.

Lumberton at Cape Fear – Cape Fear returns from quarantine in a game moved to Saturday night. Jake Thomas’ team is looking to remain unbeaten and pick up its third win. I think the Colts will do just that … Cape Fear 24, Lumberton 12.

Douglas Byrd at Jack Britt – Britt is also coming back from a shutdown, and both teams are winless on the season. I expect the Buccaneers to end their losing streak. … Jack Britt 32, Douglas Byrd 12.

E.E. Smith at Triton – Smith wasn’t shut down but had to lose a game off its schedule when Clinton wasn’t able to play on Sept. 3. Both teams are winless. I give a slight edge to Triton for homefield advantage, and the fact Smith is coming off a two-week layoff … Triton 21, E.E. Smith 14.

Gray’s Creek at Purnell Swett – Effective Sept. 15, Purnell Swett is in quarantine. They’ll return on September 29th. No games on Sept. 17 vs. Gray’s Creek or Sept. 24 vs. Cape Fear.

Westover at Pine Forest – Both teams are off to good starts. I’m picking Pine Forest because of its defense … Pine Forest 14, Westover 12.

Seventy-First at South View – Easily the marquee game of the week. It lost a little of its sheen when South View traveled to Richmond Senior last week and suffered its first loss. The showdown will be a test between the running of Anthony Quinn and Jay Shotwell for Seventy-First and the versatility of quarterback Cedavion Wimbley for the Tigers. I’m giving a slight advantage to the Falcons … Seventy-First 21, South View 20.

Terry Sanford at Overhills – The Bulldogs had an unwanted week off after losing to Southern Durham when their matchup with Kernersville Glenn was canceled. I look for Terry Sanford to rebound quickly against the winless Jaguars … Terry Sanford 35, Overhills 7.