With two wins and a loss, Bland County had its bye week last week to try to get healthy again and be ready to face the middle and backside of its 2018 gridiron schedule. Eastern Montgomery comes calling to face the Bears in Bastian this Friday with the ball set to be kicked off at 7 p.m.
In their final tune-up before the MED schedule begins next Friday on the road at MED forerunner Grayson County, the Bears will be looking to even their record against a 1-3 Mustangs’ club that was shut out last Thursday at home against Auburn 27-0.
Bland County should be favored to win this contest against the Mustangs, a program it has faced 26 times, every year since the Bears’ program was started. The Mustangs hold a 16-10 edge in the overall series, including last year’s shocking 25-7 win over the Bears in a game that haunted Bland County the remainder of the season in its quest for a second straight playoff berth.
Bland County is coming off a 35-0 win over Northwood, its 15th shutout win in the history of the program. In that game, Sammie Bright and Ty Ritter both went over 100 yards rushing with Bright scoring three touchdowns to raise his season total to six. Teammate Trey Harden and Ethan Cook both flirted with the century mark in rushing yards, falling a combined 27 yards shy.
Bright is averaging just under 90 yards per game rushing for the season and 8.7 yards per carry. Cook averages 73 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry.
Harden has thrown two touchdowns in the three games. Bright is also spearheading the defense with 21 solo tackles and 10 assists. Ritter has seven solo takedowns and 15 assists.
Eastern Montgomery’s lone win this season came against Hurley by a 14-12 score. In its three losses, the Mustangs have scored a total of just eight points, that in a 25-8 season-opening setback to Holston. The Mustangs are in an offensive funk, failing to score in their last eight quarters, riding back-to-back shutouts of 43-0 against Roanoke Catholic as well as the goose egg on the board opposite Auburn.
Senior running back Devin Owens [1,080 yards, nine TDs last year] and senior wide receiver Daniel Crawford are the top offensive playmakers for the Mustangs with junior Dylan Owens calling the plays under center. The defensive appears somewhat porous with just five returning starters from last year’s 3-7 club that suffered three losses by a total of just 12 points.
The Bears’ off weekend gave Harris Hart’s club time to rest and get some key players healthy again. Bright looked fully recovered last week against Northwood and the extra week will simply help him as well as senior Patrick Christian, who played well against the Panthers but was still somewhat gimpy after being hurt against Narrows. Logan Porter’s and Corey Harden’s injury status was unknown as this preview was written.
Bland County has shown it can score the football this season except in the week two loss to Narrows. Eastern Montgomery has shown it can’t. This one goes to the Bears, paws down.
JERRY’S PREDICTION…………..Bland County 34, Eastern Montgomery 0