New conference poses challenges
by W. Curt Vincent Editor
The Eagles and Knights will have a handful of new teams to scout and prepare game plans for this season as they become members of the new split Class 1-A/2-A Four County Conference.
After four years as members of the split Class 2-A/Class 3-A Waccamaw Conference that featured teams from Brunswick, Columbus and Bladen counties, the new conference will pit East Bladen and West Bladen against teams from Sampson, Pender and Duplin counties.
“I think it will be just as tough or tougher (than the Waccamaw),” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest. “Almost everybody will be new to us … but it’ll be fun, too.
“There’s still going to be some good, traditional football schools,” he added.
West Bladen coach Russell Dove agrees.
“With the likes of Wallace-Rose Hill, Clinton and Pender — along with East Bladen — there will be some good football being played on Friday nights,” he said. “It should be a strong conference because there’s a lot of experience at those schools.”
Both coaches are hoping they will match up well with the schools in the new conference, but neither can say for sure.
“We’ll have to wait and see how the non-conference games go to know who will be tough,” said Priest.
Dove said his biggest concern with the new conference is that he’s not a fan of the split conference alignment.
“I think it’s be much better to be in a straight Class 2-A conference, where the champion is the champion and doesn’t slip into the playoffs with a losing record or 5-5 because of the split conference,” he said.
But just taking the recent history into consideration, Dove and Priest each point to Wallace-Rose Hill and Clinton as potential favorites this season.
“We won’t worry about any of them (conference opponents) until the conference schedule gets here,” Priest said. “Until then, we’ll focus on playing East Bladen football and getting better at it.”
“We’re looking at a tough schedule and hope that, by the time the conference begins, we are competitive each week,” Dove said.
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