DUBLIN — The West Bladen Knights have wrapped up their 2015 non-conference schedule at 3-1 and now have an open date this week before opening Four County Conference play next Friday against Union.
But coach Russell Dove isn’t letting his Knights slow down too much.
“We’re not having long practices this week, and there’s not a lot of banging going on, but we’re still working hard,” he said. “We’ve gotten back to fundamentals — ball handling, strip drills, blocking schemes, pursuit drills and more.
“The off week also give me time to work closer with the receivers to help get our passing game better, because we’re going to need it going forward,” he added.
Dove said he was relatively happy with his team’s 3-1 mark through the non-conference schedule, but the one loss — a 35-6 defeat against Whiteville at home — has still left a sour taste.
“We had a tough one against Whiteville, where we made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “But we learned a lot from that game. I think it helped mature us as a team.”
West Bladen’s sidelines have often looked like a MASH unit this season, with several key parts to the Knights’ machine missing with injuries. With the week off, Dove is hoping to get some players healthy.
“We’re pretty banged up right now,” he said. “But we’ll be getting running back De’quan Lennon back in the lineup next week, which should give us some flexibility. We’ll also have wide receiver T.J. Kemp back in time for Union.”
The Spartans of Union will host the Knights in the conference opener next week — just ahead of a clash at The Castle with the defending Class 1-A state champion Wallace-Rose Hill. But Dover won’t let the Knights look ahead.
“We have to focus on Union … they aren’t 0-4 this season, they are 2-2, so they’ve gotten better,” he said. “It can be tough not to think about Wallace-Rose Hill, but I’ve told the kids every win we get takes us one step closer to the playoffs, so we can’t overlook anyone.
“We won’t take them lightly,” he added.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.