DUBLIN — Along with what the St. Pauls Bulldogs will bring to The Castle on Friday, West Bladen football coach Russell Dove knows there is one more factor facing his Knights that will need to be addressed.
“There’s still a bit of a hangover after Friday’s loss (35-6 to Whiteville),” Dove said. “We’re working on that, and I’m sure the kids will be ready when the whistle blows.”
Dove also knows, proven once again with Friday’s game against the Wolfpack, that records don’t always tell the story. Whiteville entered the game 0-2 after an embarrassing loss to East Bladen, while West Bladen came in 2-0 with big wins over South Robeson and West Columbus.
The Bulldogs will come to town carrying an 0-3 record, but Dove said St. Pauls plays better than an 0-3 team.
“They’ve played a tough schedule so far, with games against Gray’s Creek, Douglas Byrd and East Bladen,” he said. “So that record is deceiving and we’ll have our hands full.”
The game is also a bit of a rivalry game for the two teams who once shared spots in the old Southeastern Conference and whose borders butt up against each other.
On offense, St. Pauls will spread things out and set up in the shotgun/pistol. Despite the fact that the Bulldogs lost starting quarterback Cody McKenna for the season to an injury, Dove said they still have weapons.
“They have a good running back and a couple of good, long receivers,” Dove said.
Over on defense, St. Pauls will set up in a 52 with a cover two look.
“I watched film from the East Bladen game and they definitely have kids who can play,” Dove said.
The West Bladen coach said the Bulldogs will offer “plenty of athleticism and speed all over the field” for his Knights to deal with.
As for his own team, Dove said the practices this week have been good and he’s hoping the things that went wrong last week will get corrected.
“We played good defense in spurts and we ran the ball fairly well, but we made too many mistakes,” Dove said. “We need to see the defense step up, the offense execute and play our kind of football.
“We’ve gotten back to the basics this week,” he added. “It’s time to lick our wounds and move on.”
The Knights still have a few injuries that will hamper the depth, but Dove said “the guys filling in have to make the most of the opportunity (to play).”
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Cool 105.3 FM with the Bladen Sports Network crew of Ricky Leinwand, Robert Hester, Dan Allen, Joe Melvin and Ron Daniel. Pre-game starts at 7 p.m.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.