The North Lincoln Knights Tuesday hosted their first football game in the schoolâ€™s brief history against 4-A Hopewell.
The game was a scrimmage and technically doesnâ€™t count. But itâ€™s a landmark day in the Knightsâ€™ football program.
Last year when North Lincoln visited Hopewell they received a 54-0 thumping. Tuesday they looked like a completely different team.
In the first part of the scrimmage the Knightsâ€™ defense looked completely revamped.
Aaron and Justin Mintun, Casey Woodie and Colt Allen on the defensive line held Hopewellâ€™s running game in check.
Aaron Mintun and Allen both recorded quarterback sacks.
Inside linebackersâ€™ coach Jason Barnes was impressed by the defensive lineâ€™s play.
â€œOur defensive line made the linebackers look real good today and thatâ€™s their job.â€
Hopewell did score, but their first score came via missed assignments by several North defenders.
On offense, the Knights looked more fine-tuned and executed well.
Trent Hopkins, a sophomore quarterback, showed good leadership and poise of a veteran signal caller.
North running back Todd Eaton suffered a stinger and was replaced by Brandon Mull.
Mull used an effective blend of power and finesse carving into the Hopewellâ€™s defense.
While Devin Borders did make a couple of receptions, Hopkinsâ€™ go-to receiver was Pablo Arguelles.
The quarterback hit Arguelles on a fade route on his back shoulder for a 30-yard gain.
Hopkins then faked a handoff and ran it in for a touchdown.
As a whole team the Knightsâ€™ play was much improved.
North head coach Lonnie Custer was pleased with is kidsâ€™ effort.
â€œOur running game is much improved. The kids understand the concept of what weâ€™re trying to do. A year in the system has helped a lot,â€ he said.
Custer was also happy with his teamâ€™s defense.
â€œItâ€™s night and day on defense. We spend 45 minutes out of every hour on defense, because thatâ€™s something we needed to address,â€ he said.
Defensive back coach echoed Custerâ€™s sentiments.
â€œItâ€™s a 90 percent improvement. We still have to work out some kinks because itâ€™s still early in the season,â€ he said.
A big reason for the turnaround that appears to be likely for the regular season is more help.
In 2003, the Knights had three coaches total. This year, they have four full-time coaches and three part-time assistants.
Custer showered them with praise at the scrimmage.
â€œThey have done a great job on and off the field developing good repore with the kids,â€ he said.
Other highlights of the scrimmage was the play of running back Josh McClain.
McClain showed a knack for gaining yards, displaying good leg power.
For the North JV team, quarterback Peyton Brady looked good throwing the ball.
Bradyâ€™s main target was Montreal Wilson who made several big plays, including a 10-yard touchdown reception.
The Knights will get to see where they stand in Lincoln County when they square off against West Lincoln and Lincolnton on Friday at West.
â€œWe did an outstanding job today and executed very well,â€ Custer said.