Game preview: WSN at Atmore
The W.S. Neal Eagles will travel to Atmore Friday to play the Escambia County Blue Devils in the first regular season game of the 2015 season.
WSN and ECHS have met 48 times on the field with ECHS holding a 31-17 record against the Eagles of East Brewton. WSN won last year in East Brewton 27-6.
ECHS lost to Baldwin County 32-22 to start the year 0-1.
WSN played a preseason kickoff game at Milton, Fla., last Thursday and lost 21-14.
In an abbreviated interview after the game with Milton Thursday, WSN head coach Doug Hoehn said he expects the Blue Devils to be improved this year.
“I expect them to be a much better team,” Hoehn said. “I expect them to be more conditioned and more physical.
They are under their coach for the second year now and they always have athletes. We are going to have to play very hard to win.”
In 2014, the Blue Devils finished the year with a 1-9 record, earning a 42-30 win over Monroe County in the final game of the season.
Royce Young’s first season as coach of the Escambia County High School Blue Devils was tough at times, but veteran leadership is predicted at key skill positions to lead to an improved outlook in 2015.
Leading rusher Gaetyn Thames is back for his senior season. The running back position should be particularly deep, Young said. In addition to Thames and Tee Simms, the Blue Devils are also adding Tim Finklea, who transferred from Escambia Academy.
Emmanuel Etheridge also returns at fullback, and Darius Robinson will likely see playing time at that position as well. At wide receiver, the Blue Devils have a variety of options, including Devante Dailey, Rashaun Flavors, Bobby Ephraim, Devante Lee and Carlos McNeil.
Young said that the Blue Devils’ defense will have to improve if the team is to have success in 2014, and new defensive coordinator Bruce Craig is implementing a new scheme.
“It requires two linebackers, and then a hybrid player who is like a strong safety but plays a lot of linebacker responsibilities,” Young said, of Craig’s scheme.
Young said that his team will need to be fundamentally sound in order to have a successful season in 2015.
“We’ve got to be attention to detail,” he said. “We don’t lack talent. We lack numbers, but we don’t lack talent.
“There were a few games last year where we had good first halves, but then came out sluggish in the third quarter. We’ve got to learn how to finish games.”
Game time is set for 7 p.m. in Atmore.
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