Though football may be king in Bladen County during the fall season, there are a number of other high school sports getting started this time of year.
Student-athletes have been busy since Aug. 1 — some even before that on their own — with practices in preparation of the season for girls tennis, boys soccer and volleyball.
Following is a capsule look at the season past and outlook for the 2015 campaign.
— At West Bladen, coach Jeff Atkinson is coming off a record-breaking season that saw the Lady Knights finish 12-3 overall and 6-2 in the Four County Conference. But he’s looking at a rebuilding year with numerous younger players.
Lost from last year’s squad is No. 1 Alicia Avellaneda, Madison Staton, Tatianna Sturgis and Whitney Nye.
The best experience returning will include rising juniors Alanna Ludlum, Amber Long and Sydney Jackson. But look for continued support from seniors Madison Singletary and Jordan Staton.
The rest of the roster is filled out with senior Haley Dimery, sophomore Helen Lopez, junior Kayla McKernan and senior Rachel Bryan.
West Bladen opened the season Monday against Fairmont.
— At East Bladen, coach Megan Kirby is hoping a tough 0-8 season last year will reap the rewards of experience. She has a young squad that includes no seniors.
The Lady Eagles will field a team of junior Kathryn Cole; sophomores Bailey Kersey, Cassie Hill, Justyna Gargala, Laney Cross, Maddie West and Trinity Carroll; and freshmen Alyssa Moore and Jamie Frady.
East Bladen opens the season Aug. 31 with a non-conference home match against Whiteville.
— At East Bladen, coach jay Raynor’s Eagles are coming off an 11-8-4 season overall and 8-6 in the tough Four County Conference.
Lost from last season’s playoff squad was goalie Matt Massengill, Wayde Owen, Ryan Baxley, Issac Monroe, Nathan Sanders, Colby Hester, Jake Mazur, Brandon Monroe, Tyler Polk and Nathan Ventura.
Expected to solidify the Eagles this season will be senior Alex Felder, junior Logan Baxley, and sophomores Brooke McGill, Caleb Hatchell and Kevin Nunoz.
East Bladen opens the season Tuesday at West Columbus.
— At West Bladen, coach Brennan Brown will be looking to improve on a tough season where the Knights were 2-20 overall and 0-14 in the Four County Conference.
He will be doing that with a young squad after losing just two seniors in leading scorer Colby McLean and Michael Pastore.
Returning senior players to add leadership will include goalie Anthony Sebastian, senior Chandler Lennon, senior Ray Jones, senior Seth Britt and senior Victor Jacome.
The Knights opens the season Tuesday at home against Purnell Swett.
At East Bladen, coach Jennifer Hair’s Lady Eagles finished 8-10 overall and 5-9 in the Four County Conference last season.
Lost from that team was senior Abby Norris, and the key returning players this season includes seniors Miller Heustess, Lacey Suggs and Claire Campbell — along with juniors Lexie Mendell, Anna Grace Long and Bethany Lesane.
The lady Eagles opens the season Tuesday against St. Pauls.
— At West Bladen, coach Gaye Davis’s Lady Knights struggled through a 3-20-1 season overall and 0-14 in the Four County Conference,
David lost seniors Morgan Sweeney, Breanna Jackson, Allison Thompson and Krisna Ransom from last year’s squad, but will be returning rising senior Lorna Smith along with rising juniors Logan Autry, Kassidy Anderson, Laikyn Pait and Kathryn Schultz.
The Lady Knights opened the season Monday at Fairmont.
East Bladen will tackle a cross country schedule this season, with four meets followed by a Four County Conference meet to finish the schedule.
Coach Wilson Boldin’s Eagles will run against Clinton to open the season on Sept. 15.
— W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.