First road trips of the season are on tap Friday night for football teams at West Bladen and East Bladen.
The Knights of second-year head coach Kris Williams travel to Midway while the Eagles of seventh-year head coach Robby Priest trek to North Brunswick.
Unlike their respective home games, kickoff at each site is 7 p.m.
”They’re a lot different than they used to be,” Williams said of head coach Cory Barnes’ East Central Conference Raiders. “They’re spreading out and throwing the ball a lot. They running zone reads on offense. You used to be able to count on them being wing-T. That’s a big difference. Defensively, they’re going to be an odd front.”
Williams mentions the tailback and quarterback in assessing the offense. Linemen, he said, “don’t look huge, but they’re good at what they do.”
The Knights are coming off a 41-12 loss to South Brunswick; Midway (1-1) has won 25-18 at county rival Union and lost its home opener to Princeton 50-36.
Midway senior Carson Calcutt threw four touchdowns passes in the loss, going 11-for-16 for 198 yards. Senior Carsse Lucas’ three catches went for touchdowns, and senior Dante Blue hauled in four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Lucas, in fact, has TDs on all his catches early this season. He had a 72-yarder against Union, when Calcutt went 6-for-17 for 101 yards. Junior Deantae Byrd ran for 133 yards and a score in that game.
Knights taking on the challenge up front defensively include sophomore Xzavion Morrison, senior Nelson Drake, junior Nathan Landreth, junior Lee Roberts, Cameron Newkirk, senior Demetrius McKoy, sophomore Kendall Pone-Johnson, junior Lucas Nance, sophomore Kai Belle and junior Tra’shawn Ballard.
Williams said the team is putting last week behind and moving forward. No significant personnel changes are anticipated.
“We’re just blocking and tackling,” Williams said of this week’s focus in practice. “We’re working on getting better in our alignment, both offensively and defensively.”
East Bladen’s challenge, Priest says, will be a team that is athletic, big up front and gets to the ball well on defense.
“They’ve got speed that will hurt you on their offense,” he said of head coach Larry Brock’s squad. “The quarterback is athletic, likes to run and throw it.
“They’re scary to watch on film. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Scorpions (0-2) of the 4-A/3-A Mideastern Conference lost 41-7 to Whiteville and 39-21 at Socastee, a Myrtle Beach high school.
”We’re getting better every day,” Priest said. “We’ve got a little bit simpler on offense, to help the younger guys out. Not any major moves or anything like that.
“We added a few little things and are getting better at what we already have in place, a natural progression of the season.”
After seeing film of his team’s loss to Clinton, he felt the same as he did after Friday’s game.
”If a back missed an assignment, the line was good,” Priest said. “If a lineman missed an assignment, the back was good.”
No major injuries are reported and the only lineup changes to speak of is an increase in usage of running backs.
“We’ll try some different running backs, let them showcase what they’ve got before we open conference play,” Priest said.
He’s looking forward to seeing the work of sophomore Rasean McKoy, a tight end, in the backfield.
“I’ve liked the way he’s been running in practice all along,” the coach said.
Juniors Xavier McKoy and Tayshaun Berkeley, and senior Shy Pone will fill with and behind McKoy at tight end. Priest said many of their offensive parts are interchangeable.
Pone, senior Josh McKoy at the corners, and juniors Jordan Robinson and Berkeley at the safeties anchor a secondary Priest said is getting better each week.
“They have speed, and they’re big up front,” Priest said. “They like to get outside. They’re usually pretty good in track every year, and when we’ve played them, they’ve had athletes that can run. That’s scary. And the quarterback likes to run, so we have to account for him for sure.”
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @alanwooten19.