With the first official day of high-school football practice a mere two months away, East Bladen and West Bladen varsity teams already have their 2018 schedules memorized.
As the second season within the new, 10-team Three Rivers Conference looms, the Eagles and Knights will once again have just two non-conference games before the schedule flips into the conference tilts.
East Bladen will participate in a pair of scrimmages prior to the regular season — traveling to Wallace-Rose Hill on Aug. 8 for a scrimmage against the perennially tough Bulldogs at 6 p.m., then travel to Lumberton on Aug. 9 for the annual Battle of the Carolinas and scrimmage a South Carolina team to be announced at 5:30 p.m.
West Bladen will scrimmage just once before the season opens, traveling to Jack Britt High in Fayetteville for the Cumberland County Jamboree, where the Knights will face Class 3-A Gray’s Creek on Aug. 9.
Though the regular season for most schools in North Carolina will open on Aug. 17, each of the Bladen schools will have an open date and begin the season on Aug. 24.
Coach Robby Priest’s Eagles — who finished 12-2 overall in 2017 and were co-champions of the Three Rivers Conference with an 8-1 mark — will get started with Clinton at home on Aug. 24, followed by a road game at North Brunswick on Aug. 31. The conference schedule will be:
— Sept. 7 versus Whiteville
— Sept. 14 at South Columbus
— Sept. 21 versus Red Springs
— Sept. 28 at West Columbus
— Oct. 5 at Fairmont
— Oct. 12 versus St. Pauls (homecoming)
— Oct. 19 versus East Columbus
— Oct. 26 versus South Robeson (senior night)
— Nov. 2 at West Bladen
Coach Kris Williams’ Knights — who finished 4-7 overall last season and 2-7 in the conference — will start the season with non-conference games at home against South Brunswick on Aug. 24 and on the road at Midway on Aug. 31. The conference schedule will be:
— Sept. 7 at Fairmont
— Sept. 14 versus Red Springs
— Sept. 21 at East Columbus
— Sept. 28 versus South Robeson
— Oct. 5 at Whiteville
— Oct. 12 at West Columbus
— Oct. 19 versus St. Pauls
— Oct. 26 at South Columbus
— Nov. 2 versus East Bladen (senior night)
All games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.