Knights to lose 17 seniors after 4-7 season

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

DUBLIN — On the heels of a 4-7 overall and 2-7 Three Rivers Conference record, West Bladen is left to consider its future — one that will see the loss of 17 seniors, including several key players from its roster.

At the top of the list is running back B.J. Drake, one of the conference’s top performers on the offensive side of the ball with 1,423 yards and 20 touchdowns on 171 carries for the Knights.

“B.J. is an amazing back and an even better young man,” West Bladen coach Kris Williams said after Drake rushed for more than 100 yards against East Bladen in the season finale. “We’re really going to miss him.”

What the Knights will miss is Drake’s 8.3 yards per carry and 129 yards per game averages. He turned in nine 100-yard games this season over West Bladen’s 11 games.

But also graduating in June will be two other offensive performers who gave the Knights hope each and every Friday — running backs Dayvon Swindell (562 yards and four touchdowns on 75 carries) and Kerron Washington (345 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries).

But a bright spot on that side of the ball is a sophomore who spent the season learning William’s system and getting experience at the varsity level. Quarterback Tyre Boykin showed flashes of brilliance during his first varsity season, completing 41 of 93 passses for 524 yards and five touchdowns. But he also threw eight interceptions and had QBR of 44.4.

The story is about the same on the defensive side of the ball — a handful of seniors who have played their last game for the Knights and one sophomore to build around next season.

Topping the defensive list is lineman Jonathan Robinson, who made 39 solo tackles and assisted on another 27 during the season. He also recorded 3.5 sacks to lead West Bladen and could be getting some college attention.

Also moving on will be linebacker Jvahn Thomas, who had 28 solo tackles with another 34 assisted and two fumble recoveries; cornerback Michael Hepburn, who had 37 solo tackles and another 17 assisted; and cornerback Jimmy Williams, who had 30 solo tackles and another 24 assisted with one sack. Swindell led the team with four interceptions.

But sophomore linebacker Tre’Shawn Ballard should be a cornerstone of the Knights’ defense next season. This year he had 30 solo tackles and assisted on another 18.

As a team this season, West Bladen put up 265 points and allowed 364.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal