This picking business has certainly changed over the years I’ve been doing it. When I first started, there was an information void.
Teams hadn’t even been together since the previous season ended. They took to the practice field just a few weeks before the first games and then went after each other.
 
Now, everybody has been working since last winter, with nearly full-scale workouts in spring and summer.
On top of that, we’ve got an assortment of preseason conference polls and state and national rankings. Everybody’s got an opinion.
But that’s the problem. It’s just opinion. You still have to play the game, and that’s one part that hasn’t changed.
So thanks for all the informed theories and rampant optimism. It’s all going to come down to who blocks and tackles the best and figures out a way to do what Vince Lombardi used to preach. Run to daylight.
Here’s to a great season for everybody.
 
Clinton at Cape Fear - It’s game one for Cape Fear without Justice Galloway-Velazquez. It’s also game one for Clinton with hall of fame coach Bob Lewis no longer on the sidelines. I like Cape Fear’s chances for a win.
Cape Fear 24, Clinton 12.
 
Douglas Byrd at Fairmont - Is this the year Douglas Byrd snaps its 25-game losing streak and gets a win for Mike Paroli? If the Eagle performance in the BSN Sports Cumberland County Football Jamboree is any indication, there’s a good chance it will finally happen.
Douglas Byrd 21, Fairmont 12.
 
Seventy-First at Westover - First-year Wolverine coach Ernest King couldn’t have picked a much tougher opener. Seventy-First just might be the best team in Cumberland County as we begin the season.
Seventy-First 35, Westover 12.
 
St. Pauls at E.E. Smith - This should be a good opener for a fairly young Golden Bull team that needs to get experienced quickly before Patriot Conference play begins.
E.E. Smith 27, St. Pauls 6.
 
Purnell Swett at Pine Forest - This is an early chance for Pine Forest to build momentum before a couple of tougher nonconference encounters.
Pine Forest 18, Purnell Swett 12.
 
South View at Jack Britt - This is more than just a meeting of neighborhood rivals. South View has been unofficially crowned as the favorite in the Patriot Athletic Conference. Jack Britt has designs on being a serious contender in the always tough Sandhills Athletic Conference. The winner of this one will get a big boost to it chances.
South View 24, Jack Britt 18.
 
Gray’s Creek at Parkwood - It’s a long road trip for the Bears to start the season. Like Parkwood, Gray’s Creek had a disappointing result in 2017, going 2-9. This one looks like a tossup so I’ll give a slight edge to the home team.
Parkwood 13, Gray’s Creek 12.
 
Fuquay-Varina at Terry Sanford - Can Terry Sanford get out of the gate with a win now that the Jayne brothers have graduated? I think so.
Terry Sanford 22, Fuquay-Varina 8.
 
Other games: Providence Day 22, Trinity Christian 21; Dillon Christian 18, Village Christian 12; East Columbus 17, Fayetteville Christian 12.
 
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