The East Lincoln Mustangs switched their offense on Friday night, but it was out of necessity. Without quarterback Grayson Schram, who missed the game due to family reasons, the Mustangs caught East Gaston offguard switching to the wish bone and replacing Schram with the agile junior running back Ryan Sykes.
The move, while at times very successful, ultimately did not make the difference as the Mustangs fell 35-7.
Sykes was not the only position change as 6â€™1â€ 275 pound lineman Clay Martin played fullback, while Todd Link and Dustin Hickman filled in at running back.
All four players found some success. Sykes paced East Lincoln with 124 yards on 19 carries. Martin rushed for 25 yards on 12 carries. Marin and Link both rushed for 19 yards.
Head coach Matt Rikard explained the switch in the offense in a simplistic manner.
â€œWe were a little shorthanded Friday night so we had to make some changes in the lineup.â€
The Mustangs had a chance to cut into a 15-0 deficit, but ran out of time on the Warriorsâ€™ four-yard line as the teams headed into the half.
East Gaston made some key changes at halftime that Rikard feels like was part of the difference in the ballgame.
â€œThey obviously werenâ€™t prepared to play against the wish bone. They went in at halftime and made some adjustments. In the second half, we were still somewhat successful, but not near as much as in the first half,â€ he said.
East Gaston quarterback Ryan Baker accounted for three touchdowns in the game. He ran one in from four yards out and found teammates Marcus Reid and Ronnie Brooks for a 15-yard score and an 11-yard strike respectively.
Rikard was pleased with the job his patchwork offensive line did comprised of center Daniel Loth, tackle Xavier Alexander, left tackle Aaron Smith, Rick Caldwell and John Wilson.
The 124-yard effort by Sykes was the fifth time the junior has surpassed the century mark in a game this season.
Rikard felt all his backs did a good job considering the circumstances.
â€œThey did a phenomenal job of controlling the ball. They did a good job blocking. We did a fairly good job moving the ball,â€ he said.
The Mustangs fall to 2-8, 1-5 in the Big South 3A. Despite their playoff chances being gone, Rikard was proud of his teamâ€™s effort.
â€œI have no qualms with the way they played, they played hard. The coaching staff did a good job preparing them. Itâ€™s just that when you get stopped on first down, it kind of put us in a little bit of a bind as far as play calling.â€
by John Mark Brooks