The 2017 high-school varsity football season kicks off around the state on Friday — but not for Bladen County teams at East Bladen and West Bladen.
Teams across the state were reshuffled into new conferences by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and those new alignments open the season with non-conference games after nearly three weeks of practices.
But the Eagles and Knights, in an unusual set-up in the schedule, both start the season with an open date this week and will hit the field on Aug. 25.
“We’re OK with the extra time time right now,” first-year West Bladen coach Kris Williams said recently. “We can use every bit of the time to get ready.”
The Knights have been working with the challenge of low turnout numbers, but Williams remains confident things will work out in time for the opener. West Bladen travels to Southport next week for a non-conference game at South Brunswick.
“(It) gives us an extra week to sort things out … more practice reps to work out some kinks that we may have missed,” East Bladen coach Robby Priest said. “I’d rather have an open date at the beginning of the season — that way you can get in a routine for how it’s going to go the rest of the season.”
The Eagles will open the season next week with a big challenge when they travel to Clinton for a regional rumble against the Dark Horses.
For an in-depth look at both East Bladen and West Bladen — as well as teams in Robeson, Scotland and Richmond counties — look for the four-section “Pigskin Preview” in today’s Bladen Journal.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.