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Three Rivers Conference football coaches. West Bladen’s Kris Williams is on the front row, second from right. East Bladen’s Robby Priest is on the right in the back row.

FAIRMONT – Whiteville and South Columbus were tabbed as co-favorites to win the 2018 Three Rivers Conference football championship in a vote by the league’s coaches at Media Day on Thursday.

Whiteville, South Columbus and East Bladen finished in a 3-way tie for first place a year ago with identical 8-1 records. The Wolfpack dropped a 52-44 shoot-out in the second round of the 2A play-offs at Mountain Heritage, while both the Stallions and Eagles were eliminated in the third round.

The Stallions and the Wolfpack split the pre-season first-place votes receiving five each. Coach Robby Priest’s Eagles were picked third in the pre-season poll.

Slots 4-10 in the poll were in the exact same order as last season’s final standings – Red Springs, St. Pauls, Fairmont, South Robeson, West Bladen (eighth), East Columbus and West Columbus.

Whiteville has a new head coach in Jarrett Price who was offensive coordinator for his father Joey’s Wallace-Rose Hill teams that won five state championships. Joey Price will be an assistant coach for his son at Whiteville. Standout quarterback Ty Moss will direct the Wolfpack offense.

South Columbus lost eleven seniors to graduation including fullback Seth Buffkin (1,151 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns) and quarterback Robby Spencer (531 yards rushing, 667 yards passing, 14 touchdowns). However Trequan Bellamy who rushed for 1,804 yards and 22 touchdowns leads the returnees.