Southern Durham’s players had many highlights in a Thursday night win at Scotland County, but perhaps the best play the Spartans executed was during the pregame handshakes.
After hearing of the serious injury to Scotland quarterback Jaylend Ratliffe, a Georgia Tech recruit who will miss this year after suffering a fractured skull suffered in a July ATV accident, the Southern Durham booster club along with quarterback Kendall Hinton’s father Kevin, had an idea.
They were going to raise money to help Ratliffe’s medical expenses. The Spartans gave Ratliffe, who is able to go to classes but must wear a protective helmet, a $200 check at midfield before the coin toss.
“Most of it came from the kids,” Southern Durham coach Darius Robinson said. “If that shoe was on the other foot and it was one of our kids, it would be heartbreaking to the team and to the community. Why not do something like that?”
It was an emotional night in another way. Spartans offensive line coach Montaze McRae found out during the game that his wife will have twin boys.
In a passionate postgame speech that you can see on The News & Observer’s YouTube channel, Robinson told the team, “I don’t want to see (McRae) no more until his family comes home.”
No hurdling: Lee County is 4-0 thanks in large part to running back Jerry Pullum. But Pullum’s biggest surprise this year came during a Week 3 win against Athens Drive, when he had a 19-yard run called back because he hurdled a Jaguars player on his way out of bounds.
Per National Federation of High Schools rules, it’s a 15-yard penalty from the spot.
“I never knew” it was a penalty, Pullum said. “When I got flagged I thought it was a block in the back or something, and they said it was a flag for jumping. And I jumped out of bounds, so I didn’t know it would be a penalty.”
On the very next play, Pullum ran for a 26-yard touchdown.
Standout defense: Panther Creek coach Sean Crocker was pleased with his defense. The Catamounts allowed Jordan just 64 yards of total offense (minus-29 rushing) en route to a 41-0 win. The Falcons had 19 yards until the final drive.
“The defense did a really good job of honoring their assignments and getting to the ball. You know Jordan, they’ve got some athletes. And they’re breaking tackles and making guys miss. But it’s hard when we’re getting five or six guys to the ball,” Crocker said.
Trojans want effort: South Johnston picked up its first win of the season Friday night, downing Red Springs 42-28. It was the Trojans’ first win under coach Hunter Jenks.
“Our offensive line run blocked really well, and I feel like our running backs are starting to see the holes better,” Jenks said. “But it was probably our worst effort of the year. … We still haven’t played like we did against East Wake (a 42-28 loss Aug. 22), and with what East Wake has done since then, that shows me more that we’re capable of playing better.”
South Johnston will visit Fayetteville’s Cape Fear this week and Wilson Fike on Sept. 26. The Trojans do not start Two Rivers 3A play until Oct. 10, against Triton.
Undefeated count: Ten teams in The News & Observer’s greater Raleigh Metro area still are undefeated. They are: Southern Durham, Wake Forest, Middle Creek, Orange, Northwood, Chapel Hill, Lee County, Princeton, Franklinton and Union Pines.
See full standings and get to N&O team pages by going to nando.com/prepstandings.
Harnett cup: Overhills High claimed the first Dan Richards Cup, named after the former Dunn Daily Record sports editor, which is awarded to the Harnett County school with the best in-county record. Overhills beat Harnett Central 47-14 Friday and already had claimed a 34-20 win against Triton and a 47-7 win against Western Harnett.
Big Eight, big numbers: The Big Eight 3A is turning out to be the powerhouse that many observers thought it would be.
Northwood is producing 436.5 yards of total offense, scoring an average of 43 points and giving up just 7.25 points per game. All three are bests in the Big Eight 3A.
Southern Durham, the No. 1 team in The News & Observer rankings, is averaging 30.3 points scored and 13.7 given up, and Orange is scoring 36 a game and giving up 10.
See more area leaders at nando.com/prepnumbers.
Slow Friday ahead: Many area teams have byes this week, including the entire Greater Neuse River 4A. The Big Eight 3A and CAP-8 4A each have five teams with byes, and the Southwest Wake 4A has just one.
Big Eight 3A games will start Sept. 26, with No. 10 Northwood playing at No. 5 Orange.
D. Clay Best, Tim Stevens, Aaron Moody and W.E. Warnock contributed to this report.