The Lincolnton Wolves faced one of the best running backs in the area last week in Maidenâ€™s Tommy Henry. This week? Things donâ€™t get any easier as the Wolves will face another stellar tailback in North Gastonâ€™s Rafael Littlejohn.
Wolvesâ€™ head coach Scott Cloninger knows his team will have their hands full on Friday night.
â€œThe Littlejohn kid is probably a little bigger than Tommy Henry. Heâ€™s a big strong kid, whoâ€™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,â€ he said.
The coach does see one area that may play into the Wolvesâ€™ hands.
â€œI think where theyâ€™re young is on the offensive line. They have their skill people coming back and it will be a major task to stop them,â€ Cloninger said.
Overall, Cloninger was pleased with Lincolntonâ€™s defense. This week he hopes to improve on their decent game against the Blue Devils.
â€œWe 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 youâ€™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,â€ he said.
One area that stood out to Cloninger was his football team giving Maiden the ball via turnovers. Thatâ€™s a trend he hopes will end Friday night against the Wildcats.
â€œTurnovers killed us and weâ€™ve moved people to some different places on the offensive line trying to find the right position and continuity with that group. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ve worked on this week is trying to block a little bit better.â€
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.
â€œOur 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 usâ€” so we just have to do a better job upfront and with our running backs blocking,â€ 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 Wolvesâ€™ offense.
The main point that Cloninger and his staff has tried to get across to their team is that last week is over.
â€œThey donâ€™t need to be down on their self, they need to understand that itâ€™s one game. We need to have some success early with a young crowd thatâ€™s inexperienced and not the most talented group in the world you better have some (success) and thatâ€™s what theyâ€™re going to have to have.â€by John Mark Brooks