DUBLIN — “It’s never any fun losing, but we were embarrassed.”
It’s evident the sting of last week’s 35-6 loss to Whiteville remains in the mind of West Bladen coach Todd Pait and his Knights, but there’s been no panic at The Castle.
“There was a re-awakening after that game,” Pait said, “and we decided to go back to the drawing board.”
That included the dismissal of three players from the team for disciplinary reasons, which Pait said will “give some younger players a big opportunity.”
That opportunity will come Friday when 2-1 West Bladen goes on the road for its final non-conference home at St. Paul, and the 1-2 Bulldogs are expected to give the Knights a stiff test.
St. Pauls will operate its offense out of a spread formation with versatile quarterback Noah Wheeler at the controls. He will have several options available to him, including running back Chris Graham and lanky wide receiver Michael Barnes.
“They have a good offense that will give us some big challenges,” Pait said. “We’ve got to get off blocks, contain and pressure the quarterback.”
On defense, the Bulldogs set up in a basic 40 set with multiple variations, and the Knights will have to contend with lineman Elijah White and linebacker Chris Ray.
“Solid defense,” Pait said. “We’ll have to execute at every position.”
West Bladen will potentially be taking on the Bulldogs without its No. 1 quarterback Wes Pidgeon, who injured his knee against the Wolfpack in the second half. Pait said he’s unsure if Pidgeon can go, but that “we have a capable backup (sophomore Seven Campbell) and we have no intention of rushing Wes back until he’s ready to go.”
Despite the challenges facing the Knights this week, Pait said there’s been an air of excitement at practices.
“The kids are working hard every day, and I can’t ask any more than that,” he said. “I think the loss, in a way, motivated them, so we’ll see how it goes on Friday. The younger kids are going to have to grow up quick.”
Along with execution, Pait said the keys to winning Friday will be avoiding penalties and turnovers.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday in St. Pauls.
Eagles are open
East Bladen has the week off after handing St. Pauls a 42-28 non-conference loss last week at Lenon Fisher Stadium.
The Eagles, now 2-1, will travel to Wilmington next week for a non-conference game against Class 4-A Laney High.
The game will be played Friday at 7:30 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.