ELIZABETHTOWN — East Bladen coach Robby Priest only needed one word to describe Farmville Central, the Eagles’ opponent on Friday in the first round of the state’s Class 2-A football playoffs.
East Bladen, the No. 3 seed with a 7-4 mark, will host the No. 6 seed Jaguars, who are 6-5 out of the Eastern Plains Conference, at Lenon Fisher Stadium with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. It will be the second time in three seasons the two teams have tangled in the playoffs — the first time was in 2014 when Farmville Central came to town and handed East Bladen a 40-35 loss in the second round.
“Not only are they big, but they also have the athletes,” Priest said. “We’ll have our hands full.”
Leading the way on the “huge” side of the roster for the Jaguars is junior center/defensive tackle Alvin Grizzard, who comes in at 6-feet, 8 inches and 340 pounds; as well as senior lineman Jaqwuez Norman, 6-3 and 274 pounds.
“They (Farmville Central) have good line play, and those two are a lot of the reason,” Priest said.
The Jaguars operate their offense out of a hybrid mix of numerous formations that has scored 272 points this season. They will spread the field as well as line up with a three-back or two-back set.
“It’s pretty tough to describe, but we know we have to be ready for anything,” Priest said.
Quarterback Brad Shackleford leads the offense and has several weapons around him — including running backs Tyreke Tyson and T.J. Willoughby; and wide receiver Kameron McNeill.
“This team runs real well, but can also throw at any time,” Priest said.
On defense, where the Jaguars operate out of a 40 set that has given up 202 points this season, there is a solid corps of linebacker behind the stout line that includes Lamar Suggs, Chris Edwards, Trae Mercer and Tyson.
Priest knows things will be ratcheted up on Friday now that the regular season is over.
“It’s the playoffs, so we’ll need to be even better than we have been,” he said.
Priest added that his Eagles are going to have play good team defense against the Jaguars.
“You can’t tackle these guys with one player,” he said. “We’re going to have to swarm to the ball on defense.
“We’re also going to need really good line play on both sides of the ball,” he added. “And there will be times we’ll have to pass the ball to be successful.”
In addition, Priest said he’s looking to win the turnover battle and avoid drive-killing penalties.
“We can’t give them anything free,” he said.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.