ELIZABETHTOWN — Only three times since 2004 have both East Bladen and Whiteville lost their season openers before facing each other in their annual rivalry game.
This is one of those years.
The Eagles rallied to knot up visiting South Columbus 22-22 in the second half last week, only to have a turnover in their own territory lead to a Stallions touchdown that proved to be the game-winner.
“The kids have come back this week with a good attitude,” East Bladen coach Robby Priest said. “They can forget a loss a lot quicker than the coaches.
“We showed them the game film, and the film doesn’t lie — you can’t hide from anything on film” he added. “The truth is all right there.”
The Wolfpack battled North Brunswick close all evening, but after a weather delay, the Scorpions managed to hang on for a 21-20 win — Whiteville’s 10th loss to North Brunswick in the last 13 meetings.
On Friday, the 0-1 Eagles and -01 Wolfpack will tangle in Whiteville in an effort to get in the win column.
Priest said Whiteville’s offense, which operates out of the shotgun/spread, is led by quarterback Phillip Powell and features running backs Bradley Pridgen and Keyshawn Bellamy. He also said wide receiver Cameron Smith caught his attention, and tight end Trey Ellis can pose problems.
“They are all athletic,” Priest said.
On defense, the Wolfpack operates out of a 40 and Priest said “the defense is fast and athletic.”
“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” he said. “On top of the rivalry, they are a good team that will be itching to get a win.”
As for his own Eagles, Priest said the focus of practice this week has centered around building intensity and getting in better shape.
“We also need to eliminate the stupid penalties and turnovers,” he added. “We don’t need to lay it (the ball) on the ground three times — and lose all three. We just didn’t play very well on offense or defense, so we’re working on everything to get better.”
Priest said the team is healthy and should all be ready for Friday.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Whiteville.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.