ELIZABETHTOWN — The 2-0 Eagles, who are coming off a resounding 29-8 rivalry win over Whiteville, will travel to St. Pauls on Friday to face the battered 0-2 Bulldogs.
This non-conference matchup has the chance to get ugly quick.
St. Pauls is in trouble after losing senior quarterback Cody McKenna and leading wide receiver/backup quarterback Tim Billenger to injuries during the first quarter of last week’s 26-8 loss to Douglas Byrd. The Bulldogs’ offense sputtered for the rest of the game.
The St. Pauls offense is expected to continue operating out of the spread, with senior running backs Christian Edwards and Trey Thompson getting a majority of the action. Senior lineman Chris Stephens, a 315-pounder, and junior lineman Elijah White anchor the offensive line for the Bulldogs.
“They have enough good athletes to overcome injuries,” East Bladen coach Robby Priest said. “We can’t overlook anyone, and the spread stuff isn’t something we see a lot of usually.”
On defense, Edwards and Thompson anchor a solid St. Pauls corps that operates out of a 52 with variations.
“The defense is a good group that races to the ball,” Priest said. “They look big in all the right spots.”
Despite East Bladen’s 2-0 start, Priest said his Eagles have some areas that need continued work to be successful each week.
“We have to do a better job blocking on offense,” he said. “And although the defense has played pretty well, we can’t afford to have any breakdowns there. Knowing their assignments and doing their job on both sides of the ball is a big key for us.”
Priest said the usual keys like avoiding turnovers and penalties will also be important … along with one other factor.
“Getting off to a fast start like we have each game so far helps set the tone,” he said. “Fast start, fast finish is what we strive for.”
The Eagles, which were named the WWAY Team of the Week after last week’s win over Whiteville, expect to be at full strength for Friday’s game at St. Pauls. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.