Friday Preview: Eagles driven to end drought against Panthers

Sep. 11, 2013 @ 10:45 AM

Surprised?
Not East Davidson head football coach Vance Hanner.
In the first three weeks of the season, the Golden Eagles have earned wins, creating a buzz in the community about how high they can continue to soar.
“We are not surprised as a coaching staff,” said Hanner. “This is a talented team and I have told the team from Day One that we are as deserving of a victory as anyone else. They have grabbed a hold of that.”
Rival Ledford would like to end the fun this week when the two clash Friday night at East Davidson Community Stadium. The Panthers have owned the series the last few seasons in dominating fashion. East has not won a game since the 2007 season when they won 12-7. A week later in the playoffs LHS got revenge winning 28-26. But the stars could finally be aligning for EDHS in 2013.
A pass-first offense a year ago, the Eagles have been balancing out the passing game with efficient running from Michael Ramos and Bryce Bolen. The aerial attack is steady as well with quarterback Austin Wallace finding himself a viable target in Kelvin Pena.
The defense is where the Eagles have shone the most consistency. They have given up just 24 points in three weeks – 21 coming last week in a furious comeback win after trailing 21-7 to Central Davidson. The veteran group has been stingy and will face perhaps its toughest test to date against the Panthers.
“East poses a lot of problems,” said LHS coach Chris Adams. “They run the ball well and can throw it if they need to. Defensively they have held their own and can fly to the football. They are off to a great start and should be fired up.”
Ledford had a special win last week as well. They went to overtime with Southwest Guilford and pulled out a 41-35 victory. That kept the Panthers above .500 and gives them a boost heading into rivalry week.
“That was one we really needed because we had not beaten them in three years prior,” said Adams. “That was a big-time character win in teaching our kids to never give up and find a way to win.”
East's defense will have to contend with a strong one-two punch of George Melvin and Dalton Harris out of the backfield. Both have big-play capabilities and run behind a strong offensive line. Defensively, the Panthers are capable up front and feature a good linebacker crew led by Austin Stilley.
“They are experienced and just physical on defense,” said Hanner. “On offense they have a strong line and can wear you down. Hopefully our conditioning will pay off and we can hang in there with them.”
East's players may be hungry to end the drought against Ledford, but Hanner may be hungrier. As a player for the Eagles, he never felt what it was like to beat their biggest rival. He is hoping to taste victory in his first year as the coach. If successful, he hopes the future will continue to be much more competitive.
“I told the kids I never got to experience beating Ledford. They always whipped our tail. It is a rivalry, but in order for it to be a true rivalry we have got to beat Ledford year by year. We have not had a lot of success in a while against them. If we do our job Friday night we have got a chance.”

Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or kepley@tvilletimes.com.