DUBLIN — If there is one aspect of Friday’s season-opening game at South Robeson High that West Bladen coach Todd Pait is most wary of, its the Mustangs’ speed.
“They got outside on East Bladen (in last week’s Jamboree), and that’s pretty impressive,” Pait said. “So we’ve got to be able to contain that speed.”
First on that list is senior quarterback Fabian Hunt, who Pait said is quick and can throw.
“They also have a tall wide receiver we’ll have to be careful with,” he added.
The Mustangs, who will become part of West Bladen’s conference starting next season, operate their offense out of the traditional Wing T with a stable of experienced running backs — including seniors Marquise Evans and Tyric Hunt, and juniors Izean Bethea, Darrius Brown and Jauais Davis.
Over on defense, South Robeson lines up in a 44, but Pait is expecting some variations to deal with the packages West Bladen will offer.
The Mustangs have plenty of size on defense, led by 6-foot, 3-inch, 240-pound senior defensive end Gabriel Miller and junior middle linebacker De’onnta McCallum, who is 6-2, 215.
“They have good size up front and they are quick,” Pait said.
He added that the Knights are looking to build up their conditioning, but otherwise Pait is “pretty happy with where we are at, for the most part.” He said the defense has looked good in the scrimmages and the offense has been clicking lately, which he hopes continues Friday.
“I know this has always been a good rivalry,” Pait said. “South Robeson is always tough, and we know they won’t back down.”
On Friday the Knights will be officially unveiling its new, balanced offense and a revamped defense, as well.
West Bladen defeated the Mustangs at home in the opener last season, 46-0, but later had to forfeit the game when it was discovered an ineligible player had been used.
Pait said the keys to winning Friday will be containing the South Robeson quarterback, execute on both sides of the ball, finish drives and keep penalties and turnovers to a minimum.
He added that, aside from nicks and bruises, the Knights should be at full strength.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Rowland.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.