The North Lincoln Knights will face their toughest test of the young season Friday night when they host the Charlotte Catholic Cougars. The Cougars, coached by Jim Oddo, have become one of the premier 2A teams in the state in recent years.
Knightsâ€™ head coach Lonnie Custer knows how big the challenge is and more than anything just wants to see his team have fun.
With Catholic running the Wing-T offense in crisp execution, the Knights will attempt to eat up the clock and limit possessions for their opponent.
â€œWe have to control the ball. We have to drive the ball and eat up the clock. Thatâ€™s kind of hard for me to do because Iâ€™m more of a quick-strike guy, so weâ€™re having to coach me this weekâ€”thatâ€™s been a joke among the coaching staff,â€ Custer said.
A problem that North Lincoln has run into has been the inability to finish drives once theyâ€™re inside the red zone. Thatâ€™s something Custer and Knights hope to change in week three.
â€œWe have to finish drives. Weâ€™re doing a great job 20 to 20 but weâ€™re kind of stalling out, whether itâ€™s penalties or turnovers. We need to finish in the first half,â€ he said.
When the Cougars have the ball, the centerpiece of their offense is Nick Starcevic, a 6â€™3â€ 225 pound fullback. His ability is scary according to Custer.
â€œHeâ€™s an absolute bulldozer. Heâ€™s what makes the Wing-T work because you canâ€™t go flying outside, you have to stay at home and read your keys,â€ he said.
Another player to look for Charlotte Catholic is Mike Hazel, a 6â€™2â€ 240 pound lineman who excels on both offense and defense.
â€œHe starts both ways and is just a great player. He sets the tone on both sides of the ball. Weâ€™re going to have to definitely control him when weâ€™re on offense,â€ Custer said.
Catholic, always has been known as a solid fundamental football team, a fact not missed by Custer and his staff.
â€œTheyâ€™re probably the most fundamentally sound offense Iâ€™ve seen on tape in my nine years of coaching high school football. They have very few tendencies and do a great job of running the Wing-T.â€
The point of emphasis that Custer is attempting to get across to his team is that it should be a fun week due to a rare opportunity to host one of the best 2A teams in the state.
â€œWe just want to match their level of execution. We canâ€™t afford to guess on a play or not to read their keys on both sides of the ball. Itâ€™s going to be fun because we have one of the best 2A teams in the state coming to our place,â€ he said.
The Knights improved to 2-0 on the season last Friday night with a 19-17 victory over Charlotte Christian.
The two wins to begin the season just added more happiness unto Custer who celebrated the birth of his second child Luke Edward on Aug. 7 with wife Wendy. by John Mark Brooks