• • Head coach: Jon Sherman (18-48, 6th total; 3-8 in one year at East Chapel Hill, 13-32 in four years at Purnell Swett, 2-8 in one year at West Bladen).
• • Last year: Seventh in Three Rivers Conference at 2-6, 2-8 overall.
• • Top returnees: Senior Shy’ron Adams, wide receiver, defensive back, specialty teams; Senior Xzavion Morrison, offensive line, defensive line; Senior Kai Belle, offensive line, defensive line; Senior Ethan Davis, offensive line, defensive line; Senior Andrew Pait, broad receiver, defensive back; Junior Damarius Robinson, running back, linebacker; Senior Kendal Johnson, running back, linebacker; second year Deante Lacey, offensive line, defensive line; sophomore Gary Parker, running back, linebacker; Junior Devon Strange, quarterback, defense attorney; Junior Kaiden Stanley, close end, defense line; Junior Javonta Mathews, wide receiver, defensive back.
• • See other players: Sophomore Hunter Elks, broad receiver, defensive back, special teams; sophomore Pernell Hooper, fullback, defense line; Junior Andrew Sessoms, offensive line, defensive line; Junior Keyshawn Ballard, broad receiver, defensive back; second year Xavier Lopez, offensive line, defensive line; sophomore Tyler Ward, linebacker, offensive line; sophomore Wadeyn Norris, linebacker, offensive line; Newcomer Jordan Hester, linebacker, offensive line; second year Ahmir Stepps, line of defense, narrow end; Junior Ricky Brisson, defender, linebacker, runs back.
• • Return of the starters: Morrison, both lines; Belle, both lines; Robinson, running back, linebacker; Johnson runs back, defense line; Adams, broad receiver; Pait, recipient; Lacey, Line of Defense; Parker, defensive back; Mathews, defensive back. Part-time starters included Davis, both lines; Lacey, offensive line; Parker runs back; Strange, Quarterback, Defensive Back; Stanley, tight end; Adams, defensive back; Pait, defensive back.
• • Sherman: “We’ll do well if we play every game, attack defense and pass the ball well on offense.”
• • League: Sherman says, “Whiteville, St. Pauls, East Bladen, and Red Springs – based on whatever came from last year’s show with so many unknowns.”
• • Events: The Friday start of West Bladen in South Columbus has been temporarily postponed to Saturday. The Knights are leaving COVID-19 protocol and not having enough practice to play on Friday unless granted a waiver. The teams are only allowed to play seven games in seven weeks. The season finale will take place on April 9th in East Bladen.
February 27 | in South Columbus
March 5th | in Whiteville
March 12 | Red springs
March 19 | in West Columbus
March 26 | in Fairmont
April 2 | St. Pauls
April 9 | Eastern blades
THREE TO KNOW THIS YEAR
• The effects of COVID-19 are becoming visible. Players wear face covers when playing and only coaches and non-players can use gaiters. The player and coach must be 6 feet apart for the national anthem; The team box is now 80 yards for players, from the 10-yard line to the 10-yard line, and 50 yards for coaches, the usual 25 to 25; Traveling teams can only have one person on a bench on a bus, unless they are siblings or the same family; The stadium capacity is 100 no matter how big or small the facility is, and cheerleaders and bands do not count towards that number.
• The Three Rivers Conference brings two automatic berths under their 2-A teams to the playoffs, which are divided this year. A placeholder is available among the 10 conferences in the east with 2-A teams. While a starting number is in brackets next to a team name, these are nothing more than random draws first under the league champion no. 1, then under the no. 2 and then under the wild card.
• Good Friday is April 2nd and Easter is April 4th. Bladen County Schools students are in the spring break on April 2 and the following week. Football games take place on each of these Fridays. The playoffs begin on April 16.
THREE TO KNOW FROM 2019
• West Bladen’s net worth rose on September 27, 2019 with a 42:22 win over East Columbus and an 11-game skid. Apart from a loss to East Bladen in their final game, only Whiteville distanced themselves significantly from the Knights in the last month of the season.
• Long streaks continued against South Columbus and East Bladen, who have not beaten the Knights since 2001. You have played against the stallions nine times, the Eagles 19.
• As humble as it was, West Bladen doubled its winnings from 2018 when it won twice in 2019. The second was the most impressive: after a 13-0 deficit, she won 36:33 on her return home against West Columbus. The 30 second interception of Javonta Mathews, who was only 20 yards from the end zone, sealed it. Xzavion Morrison, Anthony Whitaker, Nathan Landreth, Lee Roberts, Kai Belle, and Zidarius McKenzie were the main blockers as quarterback Tire Boykin hit five touchdowns and 337 yards. Mathews, Morrison and Belle are all back this year.
Alan Wooten can be reached at 910-247-9132 or [email protected] Twitter: @ alanwooten19.