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West Brunswick running back Kevon Daniels and the Trojan offensive line look to open some running lanes against Hoggard on Friday night at M.H. Rourk Stadium.

After a bye week that gave the West Brunswick football team a break between the end of the non-conference season and the start of Mideastern Conference 3A-4A play, the Trojans welcome Hoggard to M.H. Rourk Stadium Friday for a game scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.

“The bye week came at a really good time for us. We had some guys banged up, so it was nice to be able to kind of take it easy on them a little bit. And then with some of the other guys, the younger guys, we were able to dial back in on the fundamental stuff and hone in on our own stuff,” Trojan head football coach Caleb Pardue said.

“We didn’t work on Hoggard at all last week. It was more, make sure that we’re going back to what we do and what we think is best for us. So it was good. You know, Friday nights in the fall without football are weird, so it was different but it was a nice little break. It gave us a chance to heal up, which is definitely important going into conference.”

“Pretty much everybody, now, is good to go. We had some rolled ankles, some stuff that’s going to happen during the football season. We just needed a little time to heal up. But we feel pretty good about that and all of our guys being ready to go this week.”

Pardue said while the Trojans are still trying to find some puzzle pieces on defense, they feel good about how the offense has played and what they want to do.

“Last Friday it was just one of those things where against North Myrtle, just a play here, a play there, and it’s a completely different ballgame. We’ve got a guy stopped and it’s going to be 4th and 5. And we miss three tackles and he gets the first down. Then we miss a pic and it ends up being 14-6 and then they get back in it. There are just a lot of different spots in that game where the tide could have turned. So we kind of went back and honed in on correcting those mistakes and making sure we’re playing the right way,” Pardue said.

Hoggard hasn’t been back to M.H. Rourk Stadium since Oct. 11, 2019, when West Brunswick beat the Vikings 14-7, the first Trojan win in the rivalry since 1997.

The last two meetings both took place in Wilmington in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, a 27-0 Trojan loss March 12, and a 28-14 loss on Sept. 17.

“Hoggard is definitely a challenge. Looking at our nonconference schedule, obviously the record is not what we want. But if we’re going to have to play Hoggard the first week, then that’s the nonconference schedule we want to play because it will get us ready,” Pardue said.

He compared the Vikings to the West’s first opponent of the season, Carolina Forest.

“They’re very similar to Carolina Forest in regards to (being) incredibly well coached. They have a system. They have a certain way that they do things. And so it’s definitely a challenge. They’re really talented. They’re Hoggard. They’re going to be the favorite until somebody can beat them. It’s definitely a tall order but I think, offensively, we have enough firepower to hang in games with people. It’s just a matter of, defensively, finding guys who can do things we need them to do. So it is an incredible challenge but one we’re looking forward to,” Pardue said.

“We get to play in Shallotte this Friday. The last time they came here, we won. So we’re excited about finally being able to play them here again. It’ll be a challenge but I think our kids, if I know them, they’ll be ready for it.

The game could be a battle of offensive lines as it is a strength of both programs this year.

“They’re really good on the offensive line. Their offensive line is very technically sound. They’ve got one guy who’s probably a mauler/college prospect, and then the other guys are just really good, high quality high school football players. And their trademark is they’re not going to beat themselves. They’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot too much. They’re going to play sound. That presents its own challenge,” Pardue said.

“Defensively, they’re really good at what they do. They play very hard. They play very physical. We’re going to have to be on our P’s and Q’s and we’re going to have to execute in all phases of the game to have a have a chance.”

“One of the keys of the game this week is going to be how our front handles their fronts. One of the reasons we’ve been good on offense this year is because, Kevon (Daniels) and the O-line, they’ll turn what would normally be 2-3 yard gains into 6-7 yard gains. We (need to) continue to do that. Stay ahead of schedule. Stay ahead of the chains.

“Coach (Scott) Loosemore (offensive coordinator) and I were talking the other day about, nobody’s really stopped us yet on offense, it’s been more so of us just either turning the ball over or blowing an assignment. It’s not been really anybody who has just outplayed us, defensively. That’s a frustrating thing because you feel like, if that’s the case, you should be sitting here 3-0,” Pardue said.

“We’re young on defense and we’re getting better. There were a lot of things on film from the North Myrtle Beach game that I was pleased with. I felt like a lot of our young guys were making steps in the right direction. Where guys were making five out of every 10 plays, now they were making seven or eight of those plays that they needed to make out of every 10. So it’s just a matter of getting better and executing on offense. Make sure we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot. If we do that, then we’ll like what happens Friday night.”

Brian Slattery is the sports editor for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 910-239-7433 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.

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