ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen coach Robby Priest knows exactly what Friday night’s Four County Conference football game with Wallace-Rose Hill will be like.
“It’ll be like a heavyweight fight,” he said Wednesday. “We’ll take a punch and we’ll give a punch — and the best team that night will win.”
The Eagles currently sit in third place in the conference standings at 3-1, one game behind both Clinton and Wallace-Rose Hill. The best-case scenario for East Bladen would see an Eagles win Friday and then have the Bulldogs beat Clinton to create a three-way tie — almost exactly what happened last season.
“We just have to get this win,” Priest said. “The rest will take care of itself.”
Getting this win won’t be easy.
Wallace-Rose Hill is a machine on offense, scoring 314 points through eight games. It’s Wing-T is led by two East Carolina committees in senior running backs Keyshawn Canady (524 yards and nine touchdowns on 55 carries this season) and Johnnie Glaspie (904 yards and 12 touchdowns on 119 carries). But six others have scored rushing touchdowns for the Bulldogs, as well.
The Eagles won’t be able to sleep on the Bulldogs’ passing game, either. Quarterback Aliza Carter is 23-for-38 through the air this season for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
On defense, Wallace-Rose Hill will show a 50 and 53 with numerous variations, and bring a solid team effort. The Bulldogs have given up a conference-best 66 points this season.
“They are just well-coached with a lot of good athletes,” Priest said. “They are very good at the running game and they execute real well on both sides of the ball.”
East Bladen has been hampered by injuries, especially on offense with the loss of twin junior runningbacks Ethan and Eian Hines, as well as senior fullback Nikita Owens — and Priest said he’s still not sure whether any of them will be ready Friday.
But the Eagles’ revamped backfield — primarily with Kyle Tatum, Ty McMillian and Xavia McDowell behind quarterback Alex Coates — has produced a lot of success. In the two full games since the Hines boys went down, Tatum has rushed for 359 yards and seven touchdowns, and McDowell has added 196 yards and a touchdown. Last week, Bernard Robinson contributed 115 yards and a touchdown.
“Our (reconstructed) backfield has done a great job,” Priest said. “It’s given us the opportunity to get some experience and depth there.”
Priest added that the biggest key for the Eagles on Friday will be to keep the Wallace-Rose Hill offense off the field.
“We have to manage the clock and execute,” he said.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
The game will be broadcast live on Cool 105.3 FM by the Bladen Sports Network crew of Ricky Leinwand, Robert Hester, Dan Allen, Joe Melvin and Ron Daniel. The pre-game show starts at 7 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.