DUBLIN — West Bladen’s turnaround began last season with a 34-12 season-opening win over South Robeson, but Knights coach Russell Dove isn’t looking at Friday’s game as a gimme on the schedule.
“Oh no, they are a big, physical team,” he said, “and we will need to get out to a good start. It’s pretty tough to play over there.”
West Bladen’s win last season at The Castle was made possible by a strong running game — Da’quan Lennon rushed for 139 yards — and a whole lot of defense. The highlights for the defense included an interception by Xavier McKoy; sacks by Stanley Bellamy, Scottie Storms and Trevor Lesane; and fumble recoveries by Trevor Lesane and Malcolm Vaught.
“We’re going to have to get that kind of effort again,” Dove said. “You don’t want to be over there and give them too many free chances.”
The Mustangs operate the offense out of a base wing-T that Dove compared to the East Bladen offense. On defense, West Bladen will be facing a 4-4 that’s geared to stop the run.
“We’ve been prepping hard for this first game,” Dove said. “We know they have good running backs who are big and fast, and they have plenty of good athletes.”
He added that there are several areas his Knights will need to excel in order to get a victory on Friday.
“We’ve got to be focused on the game as soon as we get on the bus,” he said. “And once the game starts, we will have to take care of the ball, play with emotion, tackle and swarm, and execute our assignments.”
Friday’s kickoff in Rowland is set for 7:30 p.m.