ELIZABETHTOWN — In a season where there will be several opportunities for redemption, East Bladen will get its first chance on Friday when the Eagles host Fairmont in the non-conference season-opener.
Last year, the Golden Tornadoes won a shootout over East Bladen, 58-56, and used an aerial attack that piled up 402 yards and seven touchdowns against the Eagles.
“We went over there (to Fairmont) for a football game, and a basketball game broke out,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest.
The Eagles also saw plenty of offensive success that night, but a vast majority of it came from its vaunted running game. Farrell Murchison rushed for 204 yards, Jaylan Herring ran for 189 yards and Jimmy Campbell had 151 yards. Quarterback Ty McMillian hit four passes for 105 yards.
“We’re going to have to be a lot better on defense,” Priest said. “But I’ve seen the kids turn things up a notch the past few days with the (season-opener) coming.”
The Eagles will again have their hands full.
Fairmont can be expected to throw a wide open spread offense at East Bladen, much of it out of the shotgun, with quarterback Jarrod Neal at the controls.
“Their quarterback is good,” Priest said. “We’re really going to have to clamp down on their passing game. Our secondary will be busy, and we’re going to have to rush the quarterback hard.”
On defense, the Golden Tornadoes operate out of a 40 front, which Priest said is bolstered by a lot of size.
“They are always big, and we’ll need to match their athleticism.”
East Bladen will rely on another dose of stiff defense and solid running game this season. Along with Farrell Murchison in the backfield will be his brother, Larrell Murchison, who was moved into the fullback slot midseason last year and provides a solid blocking back as well as a tough runner to bring down in short yardage situations.
Priest said there are the usual keys to winning this game — including avoiding penalties and turnovers.
“And we really need to execute on both sides of the ball,” he added. “Hit the holes hard, tackle well and keep them in front of us.
Kickoff on Friday is at 6 p.m. at Lenon Fisher Stadium.