The Lincolnton Wolves are 3-0 in the Midwest 2A Conference and are in the midst of a three-game win streak. The Newton-Conover Red Devils are 1-2 and just broke a losing streak in a hard-fought 7-6 win over West Lincoln.
Both facts have Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger worried as they host Newton on Friday on Von Ray Harris Field at Lincolnton Memorial Stadium.
On defense, the Red Devils run an aggressive 4-4 scheme and Cloninger believes Newtonâ€™s head coach Nick Bazzle does a good job of coaching where their defenders need to be.
â€œThey put their people in good defensive positions. You have to find something that youâ€™re going to have some success in,â€ he said.
Lincolnton junior quarterback Zack Gibson returned from a knee injury and threw for 203 yard and three touchdowns in their last contest against the Bunker Hill Bears.
Gibsonâ€™s main target was 6â€™3â€ 195 pound Dustin Metts. Metts, who is surprisingly agile for his size, has shown the knack for making the big play this season.
Against the Bears, Metts was the recipient of all three of Gibsonâ€™s touchdown passes.
Cloninger feels the Wolves will need to find something early on that is effective.
â€œThatâ€™s the key for us offensively. Either we have to find a formation or a certain play where we can move the ball against them,â€ he said.
Although, Newton is second to last in the MW 2A giving up 30 points a game, Cloninger says theyâ€™re better than those statistics.
â€œTheyâ€™re getting better. They are very sound defensively. When you hold a good West Lincoln offense to only six points, youâ€™ve done a good job.â€
The Wolves will see the Georgia Southern offense for most of night from the Red Devils (2-5, 1-2). But against West the Devils were in a spread I-Formation with Twins to one side and the backside tight end split out.
Cloninger and defensive coordinator arenâ€™t sure exactly what theyâ€™ll see Friday night but both expect to see a lot of option and fullback Shea Sample.
â€œTheyâ€™re going to play option football and their best runner is that big fullback Sample. You have to stop him,â€ he said.
The coach believes there are two defensive keys to coming away with the victory.
â€œWe have to try to slow him (Shea) down and also understand that we have to play assignment football,â€ Cloninger said.
The one thing Cloninger fears the most against the Red Devils is a lackadaisical performance that results in a loss.
â€œWe have to take it one game at a time. You donâ€™t ever take anybody lightly. On a given night in high school football, you have to understand that anybody can beat anybody so you have to be mentally prepared to play.â€by John Mark Brooks