02/26/2024
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East Bladen’s Eagles face a stern test tonight as they travel to Pinetops to battle Southwest Edgecombe in a second-round NCHSAA Class 2A East play-off game.

“They are pretty darn good,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest about the Cougars who finished in a 3-way tie for the Eastern Plains Conference championship and lost only to Washington.

Southwest Edgecombe has outscored opponents by an average of 36-15 and has rushed for an average of 320 yards per game.

“They line up in the wishbone and sometimes in the winged-T,” said Coach Priest. “They look a lot like us at times, but they have 3 really good backs.”

Leading the Cougar offense is 190-pound senior Marcus Williams, Jr. who has already racked up 1,771 rushing yards and a whopping 30 touchdowns this season.

Seniors Keanan Williams (835 yards, 7 touchdowns) and Kynazi Page (290 yards, 5 TD’s) man the outside posts. “If those two outside guys get loose, they are gone,” noted Priest.

Six-four quarterback Tucker Pridgen has thrown for 530 yards and 6 touchdowns. Senior Quontellas Norwood has recovered from a random shooting suffered early in the year and has 17 receptions for 280 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Senior Jarratt Mobley has converted 44 of 50 extra point kicks.

“Their defense is fast and athletic,” continued Coach Priest. “They really fly around and are well-coached.”

Junior Dylan Hodges, a 215-lb. linebacker, leads the Cougar defense with 102 tackles. Senior defensive end Devonte Hyman follows with 82 tackles and a team-high 5 sacks.

Senior safety Josh Davis had intercepted 5 passes and recovered 2 fumbles. Page has 4 fumble recoveries.

East Bladen has outscored their opponents by a 29-17 margin and has rushed for 286 yards per game.

Junior Kyle Tatum rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown last week as the Eagles edged Graham 35-34 in overtime. Tatum now has 715 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing for the season.

Senior Nikita Owens finished with 98 yards and a TD rushing against Graham and raised his totals to 519 yards and 6 touchdowns for the season.

Sophmore Xavia McDowell ran for 2 touchdowns and 89 yards in the win over Graham. McDowell has now powered his way to 472 yards and 4 touchdowns since moving to the fullback position against Pender.

The Eagles dominated the time of possession with 83 offensive snaps to only 42 snaps for Graham.

Senior Ty McMillian returned to start at quarterback and completed a 6-yard pass to sophmore Sincere Smith who made a diving catch for the go-ahead touchdown in overtime.

Senior Chris Cromartie anchors the East Bladen defensive line with a team-high 69 tackles and 6 sacks.

Junior linebacker Derrick Burney follows with 62 tackles, and McDowell has made 60 tackles and recovered 4 fumbles.

Senior lineman Jonathan Melvin has contributed 55 tackles. Junior Michael Walter has 5 sacks and has recovered 4 fumbles.

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