ELIZABETHTOWN — After four straight years of circling a mid-season Four County Conference clash with Clinton on the calendar, East Bladen is looking at a different kind of season-opener this year. Now residing in the newly established Three Rivers Conference, the Eagles are looking at a non-conference road game against the Dark Horses on Friday.
“It’s the same ol’ Clinton, though,” said East Bladen coach Robby Priest. “They have athletes everywhere.”
Clinton lost its season-opener last week to Cape Fear, 13-7, and that showed Priest what the Dark Horses have.
“They were beat by the defending Class 3-A state runners-up — which tells us a lot,” he said.
Clinton, which has primarily operated out of a Wing-T offense over the recent years, is expected to mix in some spread to move the defense out sideline to sideline. Led by quarterback Kris Williams, the Dark Horses still have a stable of dangerous running backs in Jaheim Faison, Khari Williams and Jalen Smith.
And when they go to the air, Zion Autry and Dewan Lesesne “can go get it,” Priest said.
On defense, Clinton is anchored by linebackers Jaivah Cruse and Smith, along with safety Kris WIlliams.
“We’re going to have to prepare for a little more this time, because of that spread,” Priest said. “Plus, it’s our first game. They’ve played a game already, so the early jitters are out of the way.”
Priest added that he’s hoping to see a lot of energy and sense of urgency for four quarters on Friday.
“We’ve got to fly around on defense and, on offense, execution will be important,” he said. “Avoiding stupid penalties and turnovers is key, as always.”
The Eagles and Dark Horses will kick off Friday at 7 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.