ELIZABETHTOWN — Pre-season football practices have been going on for decades in Elizabethtown and, despite losses to graduation, each has had the same recipe of plugging in the next physical, fast and never-give-up running back to take the quick misdirection handoffs and burst up the middle.
But this pre-season is different at Eagles camp.
“We don’t have Murchison and Murchison in the backfield,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest, who led the Eagles to a 10-3 mark last season and a share of the Four County Conference crown. “We have Hines and Hines now.”
So this season, East Bladen fans will be watching an Eagles offense that’s operating out of the spread.
“We want to spread the field and get our guys in the open field to use their speed,” Priest said. “We have to adapt to the personnel we have.”
Three days into the official practice sessions, East Bladen was hard at work Tuesday learning the new offense. Returning QB1 Ty McMillian and backup Alex Coates were each getting numerous reps directing the slowed down offense that seemed to be getting more personnel like Kyle Tatum, Ethan Hines, Eian Hines and others involved.
Over on the defensive side, Priest said his best asset will be size.
“We huge along the line — both lines, really,” he said. “We’re probably averaging about 6-foot, 4-inches and 260 pounds across the front.”
But it’s the offense that will get the most attention — especially from opposing teams who have been used to taking a beating up the middle.
Assisting Priest with the new-look offense is coach Mark Little, whose resume includes successful coaching stints at Clarkton and West Stanley.
“I’m just trying to help Robby with whatever I can,” said Little, who was spending time working with the receivers.
The Eagles have about 36 players out for the varsity squad. They will open the scrimmage portion of the pre-season on Wednesday when they participate in the second annual CaroilinaPreps.com Coastal Clash at South Brunswick. The following night, East Bladen will open the first Battle of the Carolinas scrimmage at Lumberton against Latta, S.C.