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Lincolnton hopes to rebound from loss

The Lincolnton Wolves faced one of the best running backs in the area last week in Maiden’s Tommy Henry. This week? Things don’t get any easier as the Wolves will face another stellar tailback in North Gaston’s Rafael Littlejohn.

Defense
Wolves’ head coach Scott Cloninger knows his team will have their hands full on Friday night.
“The Littlejohn kid is probably a little bigger than Tommy Henry. He’s a big strong kid, who’s more of a power running back. Their quarterback (Jeff Johnson) throws the ball real well and they have a lot of skill people back,” he said.
The coach does see one area that may play into the Wolves’ hands.
“I think where they’re young is on the offensive line. They have their skill people coming back and it will be a major task to stop them,” Cloninger said.
Overall, Cloninger was pleased with Lincolnton’s defense. This week he hopes to improve on their decent game against the Blue Devils.
“We need a few more people to the football. We had a few breakdowns, which were minor breakdowns. We gave them (Maiden) the ball inside the 40 three times. If you get a short field you’re going to score. They played a decent game other than the long (62-yard) run by Tommy Henry. They played as well as I thought they could,” he said.

Offense
One area that stood out to Cloninger was his football team giving Maiden the ball via turnovers. That’s a trend he hopes will end Friday night against the Wildcats.
“Turnovers killed us and we’ve moved people to some different places on the offensive line trying to find the right position and continuity with that group. That’s what we’ve worked on this week is trying to block a little bit better.”
For Zack Gibson to play to his potential and up to the hype, Cloninger believes his offensive line and backs will have to do a much better job protecting him.
“Our turnovers were forced turnovers. Two times we fumbled we were hit from behind, the interceptions we had we always had somebody in our lap pressuring us— so we just have to do a better job upfront and with our running backs blocking,” he said.
Against the Blue Devils Gibson was 6-17 with three interceptions. A bright spot for the Wolves was the play of junior running back Darrell Friday who toted the ball seven times for 45 yards. Expect him to see more carries as he becomes more familiar with the Wolves’ offense.

X-Factor
The main point that Cloninger and his staff has tried to get across to their team is that last week is over.
“They don’t need to be down on their self, they need to understand that it’s one game. We need to have some success early with a young crowd that’s inexperienced and not the most talented group in the world you better have some (success) and that’s what they’re going to have to have.”by John Mark Brooks

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