With the pre-season practice session at its midway point, the next step for high-school gridiron coaches in their team’s preparation for the 2015 varsity football season is a set of head-to-head scrimmages this week.
East Bladen and West Bladen high schools will be participating in scrimmages that will include some South Carolina flavoring.
Eagles had coach Robby Priest will be taking his team to the CarolinaPreps.Com Coastal Clash at South Brunswick High on Wednesday, then to the inaugural Battle of the Carolinas at Lumberton High on Thursday.
Knights head coach Russell Dove will lead his team to Green Sea/Floyd High in South Carolina on Tuesday and then to Red Springs High on Wednesday.
The Eagles will be one of eight teams in the Battle of the Carolinas, which will feature five North Carolina teams — East Bladen, Lumberton, Purnell Swett, Fairmont and West Brunswick — and three South Carolina teams — Dillon, Latta and Lake View.
“This will be a quality scrimmage and a big event,” Priest said. “We’re all hoping for a good crowd, because they want to double the number of teams next year and really make this a premiere event.”
Tickets for the scrimmage are available from Priest for $5, as opposed to $7 at the gate. Each school was given 200 tickets.
Priest said that, when plans were being put together for the event, East Bladen was on the short list to participate.
“I think a lot of that was our tradition here of good football,” Priest said. “And I’m glad they invited us, because it should be a good experience for the players and coaches.”
The Eagles will kick off the night’s scrimmages with a 6 p.m. matchup against Latta, a team Priest said “will bring it.”
“They are a spread offense and 40 defense team that has always had good athletes,” he added. “We will have our hands full.”
With East Bladen switching to a spread offense this season, Priest is hoping to get a good gauge for where the offense is about 10 days before the regular season opens at South Columbus.
“We definitely need to see where we are and what needs to be worked on,” he said. “Plus, we want to see a lot of intensity and good execution.
“We’ll have the scrimmage the day before, so the kids will be tired — but I think they will be excited about being part of an event being held for the first time,” Priest added. “They want to get out there and play, something different than practices.”
Dove said the coaching staff is looking forward to the two scrimmages for one specific reason.
“We lost some pretty key people from last season, so it will be important to see what some of the new players — jayvee and those who didn’t see a lot of playing time last season — can do,” he said. “It will also give us the chance to see our starters in game situations.”
Dove said the Knights have been practicing pretty hard since Aug. 1, and the coaching staff has begun to settle on names in starting slots.
“But the offensive line is the one area where we need to see some gelling,” Dove said.
As far as getting into game action situations at the scrimmages, Dove said the players are looking forward to participating.
The Knights will travel to Green Sea/Floyd High School in South Carolina on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. matchup against South Columbus. On Wednesday, West Bladen will travel to Red Springs for a 4 p.m. scrimmage against the host team, then play a 5:30 p.m. scrimmage against an as yet undetermined opponent.
“These will be some pretty quality scrimmages for us,” Dove said.
The Knights open the season Aug. 21 at home against South Robeson.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.