The Lincolnton Wolves (6-3, 4-1 Midwest 2A) received an outstanding defensive performance against Shelby the No. 1 team in the state last week in a tough 7-0 loss. The question this week will be how they will respond coming off such an emotional loss.
Wolvesâ€™ head coach Scott Cloninger believes his team can come out one or two ways against the Bandys Trojans (6-3, 3-2 MW2A) Friday night.
â€œYou can feel sorry for yourself or you can put your back up to the wall and come out just like you did last week,â€ he said.
On the offensive side of the ball, against an aggressive 4-3 defense, Cloninger would like to see the trio of Darrell Friday, Lance Friday and Dusty Friday run the football effectively.
â€œWeâ€™re going to have to be able to run the football. If you canâ€™t run the football, then people are just sitting back waiting for the pass. We have to establish a run game somehow, some way,â€ he said.
The Wolves were held to 24 rushing yards against the Golden Lions on 22 carries. Cloninger was not pleased with any facet of the rushing attack.
â€œWe were disappointed we couldnâ€™t run the ball inside or out. They just manhandled us on offense. The whole offense is going to have to step up and meet the challenge like the defense did last week,â€ he said.
Another area that let them down against Shelby, which has been an epidemic for Lincolnton, was their inability to catch passes.
Cloninger does not doubt his playersâ€™ efforts, but also believes each of his players should be held accountable.
â€œThe people that drop passes. Itâ€™s their own fault and itâ€™s a lack of concentration. Our coaches work everyday on catching passes, then we get in the game and we drop them,â€ he said.
â€œWhen a person drops the football, 99 percent of the time itâ€™s because they took their eyes off itâ€”even for an instant,â€ he added.
The Trojans run multiple sets on offense with running back Chris Spade expected to carry the ball 20-25 times a game. Cloninger believes he is a threat to be taken very seriously.
â€œHe has great speed and has good feet. He sees the field well and heâ€™s one of those guys that can go the distance. He can score from anywhere on the field and thatâ€™s the scary part.â€
So how does defensive coordinator Ledford Gibson and Cloninger plan on slowing Spade down?
â€œSomebody is going to have to watch Chris Spade wherever he goes. All 11 is going to have to know where he is at, at all times,â€ Cloninger said.
Bandys has quarterback, in Tyler Rowe, that is maturing according to Cloninger.
â€œZach Elliot was just a great quarterback who could throw the ball very well and had great speed. Tyler is still learning and growing in the quarterback position,â€ he said.
by John Mark Brooks