ELIZABETHTOWN — Amid all of the homecoming activities this week, the Eagles of East Bladen are also preparing for a visit from Fairmont on Friday for a Three Rivers Conference clash — a scenario that puts added pressure on coaches to keep their players focused on the task at hand.
“We just keep reminding them that our part of homecoming is winning the game,” said East Bladen head coach Robby Priest, whose Eagles are 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference. “That’s what we’re expected to do to finish off homecoming week.”
That “taking care of business” attitude will be tested by a Golden Tornadoes team that is 3-3 overall, 2-2 in the conference and licking its wounds from a 58-16 thrashing at the hands of Whiteville last week — and Fairmont has plenty of talent to get Priest’s attention.
The Tornadoes operate their offense out of a spread formation, often in the shotgun, and is led by senior quarterback Derrick Arnette, who is a threat to run or throw. On the ground (all stats through five games), he rushed for 322 yards and three touchdowns on 47 carries; through the air, he is 57-of-93 for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns — along with four interceptions.
Arnette’s favorite receivers are juniors Jordan Waters (29 catches for 383 yards and four TDs) and Jayvon Morris (nine catches for 337 yards and four TDs)
“They have good athletes on offense with a solid quarterback, shifty running back and wide receivers who can go get it,” Priest said.
On defense, Fairmont shows a 50 front with variations, and Priest is expecting to see eight or 10 defenders in the box against his Wing-T offense. The Golden Tornadoes are led by senior linebacker Sidney McKeithan, who has 42 tackles.
“They have good size along the line and linebackers who get to the ball quickly,” Priest said.
Fairmont, however, is battling history. The Tornadoes are 0-8 all-time against East Bladen, including a 50-30 loss in their last meeting, which was a non-conference tilt in 2014.
“We’re going to have to come and play,” Priest said. “Along with dealing with what Fairmont will do, we have to keep working hard to get better at what we do.”
Woven into that effort, Priest said, will be for the Eagles execute their assignments and to avoid turnovers and penalties.
So far, East Bladen’s defense has allowed a conference-best 42 points through six games.
Kickoff on Friday will be 7 p.m. at Lenon Fisher Stadium.