Knights travel; East Bladen has homecoming

By: Alan Wooten - Bladen Journal
Rashard Willis
Christopher Bailey

Friday’s assignment moved to Wednesday, then back to Friday.

Then there’s Tuesday and a rescheduled game.

West Bladen, like its opponents, is maneuvering through a high school football season unlike few others. The Knights are scheduled to visit West Columbus on Friday, having hopped dates this week because of the forecast with Hurricane Michael.

They’ll go to East Columbus on Tuesday to make up a game postponed last month by Hurricane Florence.

Across the county, East Bladen finally plays in Lenon Fisher Stadium for the first time since a pulsating win over Whiteville on Sept. 7. It is homecoming for the Eagles as St. Pauls visit.

Both Three Rivers Conference tilts have 7:30 p.m. kickoffs.

“The quarterback and running back are really athletic,” second-year West Bladen head coach Kris Williams says of the Vikings (0-3 Three Rivers, 1-4 overall). “They like to run them a lot, too. They’re hungry for wins, just like we are. I also know that the weather is driving them crazy as much as it is us.”

West Bladen (1-4, 1-2 Three Rivers) is coming off a 48-0 loss at Whiteville.

“I think we were able to put that behind us,” Williams said. “We’ve been working to eliminate mistakes, learn from our mistakes and move on. Just like I told them, we’re going to put that one in the trash, learn from our mistakes and go. That’s been our goal every day this week.”

West Columbus lost 24 straight games before winning 27-0 over Creek Bridge of Marion, South Carolina, in the second week of the season. It has not won a home game since 2015.

Senior Shawn Tyson has rushed for 456 yards for the Vikings and thrown for another 257. He’s rushed for five touchdowns and thrown for three.

The Knights challenge him up front with junior Christopher Bailey, sophomore Kai Belle and Mark Flores. The linebackers are junior Tra’shawn Ballard, sophomore Kendall Johnson and freshman Jaylen Newkirk.

Junior quarterback Tyre Boykin was held without a touchdown running or throwing last week for the first time this season. He’s got 13. He will work behind the line of junior center Cameron Collins, junior Nathan Landreth and sophomore Xzavion Morrison at guards and junior Lucas Nance and Belle at the tackles.

West Bladen is likely to be without senior Kerron Washington. Questionable to play are sophomore Malaci Oxendine and freshman Ricky Brisson.

At East Bladen, the festivities of homecoming will present their usual distractions but seventh-year head coach Robby Priest has a simple message to his team.

“Our end of the homecoming deal is to win the football game,” he said.

St. Pauls is in its first year under Mike Setzer and has won two of three in the Three Rivers and four of five overall.

“They’ve always got the athletes,” Priest said. “They probably have got 150 to 200 more students than we do. Every year, they’ve got good-looking athletes. Coach Setzer has them going in the right direction. They look good on film. I like to watch them play.”

Marqueise Coleman has run for nine touchdowns and 832 yards on his 76 carries. Hunter Bryant completes 51 percent of his passes and has thrown for 487 yards and three scores.

“They spread you out, get the athletes in space, take advantage of what you give them,” Priest said. “The quarterback is a good athlete and can throw it, too. We’ll have our hands full trying to contain him, try to hem up the running game. They run it and throw it good.

“Defensively, they have big guys up front, and they have athletes in the second level that can get to the ball pretty fast. It’s going to be a challenge trying to move it on them and trying to stop them from scoring on us.”

The Eagles start senior Tyvon Townsend and sophomore RaSean McKoy at defensive ends, and senior Jordan Payton and junior Zac Hester at defensive tackles. Senior Dayveon Washington and junior Kasey Price anchor the middle at linebacker.

Offensively, East Bladen has found success with sophomore Zach Meares in his first year at quarterback. Hester has produced 100-yard rushing efforts as the Eagles have started 3-0 in the league and 4-1 overall.

Josh Hayes, up from the junior varsity last week, is expected to get his second start at left guard alongside either senior David Alsup or sophomore Brady Hollingsworth at center and senior Tyreese McElveen at tackle. Juniors Jordan Stanley and Rashard Willis form the right side interior; tight ends are juniors Tayshaun Berkeley and Xavier McKoy.

“I hope we’re up for the challenge,” Priest said.

Rashard Willis Willis

Christopher Bailey Bailey
Homecomingat East Bladen

Alan Wooten

Bladen Journal

Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or Twitter: @alanwooten19.

Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or Twitter: @alanwooten19.