The first round of the state’s Class 2-A football playoffs are set, and the opponents for East Bladen and West Bladen are not what the predominant rumors had zeroed in on.
The Eagles, 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the Four County Conference, have been seeded No. 7 in the East Region and will host No. 10 Graham, 4-7 overall, on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“We kind of limped to the finish line with injuries to the entire backfield,” East Bladen coach Robby Priest said. “But we kept working hard. We’ll see where we are during the week as we get ready for Friday.”
The Eagles finished third in the conference behind defending Class 1-AA champion Wallace-Rose Hill and Class 2-A state runner-up Clinton. Those two schools accounted for East Bladen’s only losses of the season.
The Knights, who officially went 5-6 overall after having to forfeit their opening day win over South Robeson because of using an ineligible player, was also 3-4 in the Four County Conference. They are seeded No. 16 and will make a return to the playoffs after a one-year absence by traveling Friday to take on No. 1 seed Kinston, 11-0.
“We’re happy to be going back to the playoffs, but we won’t know about how we are injury-wise until the week plays out,” said West Bladen coach Russell Dove. “We won’t plan to change much of what we do, but we know there will be a huge task ahead for us.”
Initially, the rumors had Red Springs coming to face East Bladen and West Bladen traveling to face Fairmont. Instead, No. 11 Red Springs is facing No. 6 South Columbus, and No. 3 Fairmont is facing No. 14 Bartlett Yancey.
In a testament to the Four County Conference’s strength, the conference placed seven of its eight teams in the state playoffs.
Other conference teams
— Class 2-AA: No. 4 Clinton, 8-2, will host No. 13 North Brunswick, 5-5.
— Class 2-A: No. 12 Midway, 7-4, will travel to No. 5 Herford County, 8-3.
— Class 1AA: No. 1 Wallace-Rose Hill, 10-1, will host No. 16 Spring Creek, 2-8.
— Class 1-AA: No. 11 Union, 6-4, travels to No. 6 Riverside-Martin, 8-2.
— Class 1-AA: No. 15 Heidi Trask, 2-8, travels to No. 2 Tarboro, 10-0.
Other regional teams
— Class 1-AA: No. 12 Mt. Airy, 7-4, will travel to No. 5 Whiteville, 8-3.
— Class 1-AA: No. 16 South Robeson, 2-9, will travel to No. 1 East Wilkes, 11-0.
— Class 1-AA: No. 15 West Columbus, 3-7, will travel to No. 2 West Montgomery, 10-0.
— Class 4-AA: No. 11 Lumberton, 6-5, will travel to No. 6 Page, 9-2.
— Class 4-A: No. 2 Scotland County, 11-0, to host No. 15 Davie, 5-6.
— Class 3-AA: No. 16 West Brunswick to travel to No. 1 Terry Sanford, 10-1.
— Class 3-AA: No. 7 Gray’s Creek, 8-3, to host No. 10 Jacksonville, 7-3.
— Class 1-AA: No. 3 James Kenan, 9-1, will host No. 14 Hobbton, 3-8.
— Class 1-AA: No. 7 Lakewood, 8-3, will host No. 10 Rosewood, 7-4.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.