The North Lincoln Knights will have their first away game of the season on Friday night as they face one of the premier 1A teams in the state in the Maiden Blue Devils. Knightsâ€™ head coach Lonnie Custer knows his team is up for a huge challenge.
Maiden enters the contest unblemished with a 5-0 record on the season with legendary coach Tom Brown at the helm.
Last week, against Hendersonville two Knights really excelled. Sophomore quarterback Trent Hopkins was 12-for-22 passing with 187 yards and two touchdowns. Todd Eaton had his best outing of the season rushing the ball seven times for 50 yards and hauling in three receptions for 107 yards.
Custer was pleased with their performance and just wants to see more of the same this week against the powerhouse Blue Devils.
“We got to do a good job of mixing run/pass and controlling the tempo. We want the same ol`, same ol,” he said.
The coach believes that his team did a good job moving the football against Hendersonville, but that they didnâ€™t have enough opportunities.
“We did a good job running and passing, we just didn`t have the ball very much. We didn`t have the ball for even 50 plays. They controlled the time of possession and the whole tempo of the game,” he said.
Maiden is loaded with playmakers on offense with much heralded running back Tommy Henry, quarterback Brandon Finger and explosive receiver Tristan Lawing.
Custer knows one area that has haunted the Knights in their three losses is giving up the big play.
“We can`t continue to give up the type of plays we`re giving up defensively. We have to do a good job of limiting the big plays,” he said.
Poor tackling by the Knights has translated into big gains for their opponents, Custer hopes to change that this week.
“We have to do a better job of tackling, that goes back to doing a better job coachingâ€” that goes back to me. We have to get back to fundamentals,” he said.
North gave up 374 yards rushing to the Bearcats with tailback James Wynn racking up 249 with four touchdowns.
In film session, Henry and Finger look to be two of Maidenâ€™s leaders. Custer took notice of both.
“He`s a good running back. He`s got good feet and good power. He`s (Finger) does great job running their offense. He`s big kid with good field presence.â€
Custer feels the biggest key for his football will be seeing how his team reacts to playing in front of hundreds of the Blue Devilsâ€™ faithful.
“This is the first time we`ve gone on the road all year, so it`s going to be different for these kids. It will be interesting to see how they react in a hostile environment.”
by John Mark Brooks