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Football Friday, East Bladen (4-0) at Midway (4-0)

East Bladen High SchoolA pair of unbeaten teams that feature ground-oriented offenses will slug it out tonight in Spivey’s Corner as East Bladen’s Eagles travel to Midway for a key Four County Conference football opener.

Larry Blanks, a 229-pound senior fullback, anchors the Midway power-running game. Blanks ran for 148 yards in a 43-29 win over Goldsboro Rosewood. Akinlabi Olanipekun, a 200-lb. running back, led the Raiders with 99 yards rushing in their win over Hobbton.

Sophomore speedster Shaking Warren led the Midway rushers in a 16-14 win over Lakewood and gained 113 yards in the win over Rosewood. Senior Terrell McGee, a 215-pounder, rushed for 64 yards against Lakewood and 98 yards against Rosewood.

Junior Austin Raynor, a 6-4 quarterback, directs the Raider offense and his favorite targets are seniors Dylan Lee and Paris Smith.

Junior Michael Kramer, a 220-lb. linebacker, leads the Midway defense, along with junior Derek Loftis, Lee and senior James Hardee.

“Coach (Jason) Fussell does a great job with them,” said Eagle Coach Robby Priest. “They are 4-0 for a reason.”

East Bladen defeated Midway 35-13 last season, but 2 years ago the Eagles were stunned by a 99-yard Raider touchdown pass in the final minute that turned an apparent 13-10 Eagle win into a 16-13 defeat. “I don’t even want to talk about that one,” said Priest.

The Eagles come into the game ranked No. 5 in Class 2-A in the AP state-wide poll. East Bladen is ranked No. 4 in NCpreps.com Class 2-A rankings.

East Bladen’s offense features speedsters Eian Hines and Ethan Hines. Eian Hines leads the Eagles with 464 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns. His twin brother Ethan has run for 392 yards and 5 touchdowns. Ethan has also scored a pair of return touchdowns.

Senior fullback Nikita Owens has added 217 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns to the Eagle offense. Senior quarterback Tyquan McMillian has thrown for 144 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore Sincere Smith has caught 2 passes for 80 yards.

Junior Derrick Burney leads the Eagle defense, along with senior Chris Cromartie and sophomores Xavia McDowell and Bernard Robinson. Junior Michael Walter has 3 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries for East.

Junior Kyle Tatum has a pass interception return for a touchdown, and Cromartie has a fumble recovery for a touchdown and has blocked a punt.

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