DUBLIN — On a short week and still stinging from a heartbreaking loss to Midway on Monday, the Knights of West Bladen now turn their attention to the regular-season finale against East Bladen at the Eagles Nest.
“It’s a short week and that was a tough loss for us on Monday, but we’ve got to put all that behind us and be ready,” West Bladen coach Russell Dove said.
The Eagles come in with a record of 5-5 overall and 4-2 in the Four County Conference — a record that doesn’t tell the story of an East Bladen team that opened the season at 0-3.
“They are definitely on an upswing,” Dove said. “But they played some pretty top-notch opponents early, and we knew they were a good team that just needed time.”
Dove added that the Eagles have what the Eagles always seem to have — a solid running game and a stiff defense.
“On offense, they have a fella by the name of (Farrell) Murchison in the backfield, and the way he goes is how they go,” Dove said. “But we can’t just focus on him, because there are a few others who can beat you.”
Murchison has been the workhorse for the Eagles, rushing for 1,478 yards and 12 touchdowns. His partner in the backfield, Jaylan Herring, has also done plenty of damage, rushing for 1,013 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
The Eagles will throw the ball on occasion, and quarterback Ty McMillian is 49-for-100 for 920 yards and 11 touchdowns. Most of those passes have gone to Murchison (229 yards, four TDs), Alex Stephens (305 yards, four TDS) and Jaquan Jones (302 yards, three TDs).
Defensively, Dove said East Bladen tackles well, which means his Knights will have to block well.
“Most importantly, we have to stay on our blocks — especially on our sweeps, which is our bread and butter,” he said.
The Knights also enter Friday’s game with a 5-5 overall record, but is now 3-3 in the conference after two straight tough losses. And this game has plenty of playoff seeding implications to it.
“We’ve been in pretty much every game with a chance to win — except Whiteville and Wallace-Rose Hill,” Dove said. “We just have to keep working hard, learn from our mistakes and correct them.”
Dove added that West Bladen has some extra bumps and bruises after a physical game on Monday with Midway, but he is hoping to be at full strength come Friday night.
“I’m hoping there won’t be any lingering effects, physically or mentally,” Dove said. “We’re preparing for a well-coached East Bladen team that has a lot of talent, and we’re looking forward to the challenge ahead of us. They’ve dominated this rivalry for a long time, and we’d like to turn that around.”