The Lincolnton Wolves (6-4, 4-2 Midwest 2A) need a home victory against the East Rutherford Cavaliers (8-2, 5-1 MW 2A) on Friday for a couple of reasons. With a win, the Wolves will more than likely earn themselves a home 2A State Playoff game and would finish in third place in the Midwest 2A.
One area Lincolntonâ€™s head coach feels they need to improve is running the football in order to be successful. They did not turn in a strong rushing performance against Bandys last week, having rushed the football 29 times for only 89 yards and lost 29-0.
â€œWe have to run the football. If we canâ€™t run the football, then we canâ€™t win,â€ Scott Cloninger said.
In the passing game, something the Wolves have struggled with is the ability to pick up blitzes.
â€œWeâ€™re having problems with blitz pickups. Weâ€™re physically mismatched in certain areas. The bottom line is the last three games of our regular season is as tough as any schedule anybody in the state is going to play,â€ Cloninger said.
Forgive Cloninger if he digresses from the question, as the Wolves end their three-game stretch that includes Shelby, Bandys and East Rutherford.
â€œYou have to rise to the occasion and come through at some time and thatâ€™s what we havenâ€™t been able to do yet,â€ he said.
The Cavaliers run a 3-5 defense that is predicated on speed and a solid noseguard play. Against that style of D, Cloninger and his team will look for what he calls â€˜creases.â€™
â€œThey got those five linebackers who are going to blitz from every corner and angle. They the best noseguard in the western part of North Carolina. You have to have a noseguard who can draw a double team,â€ he said.
The Cavaliers are led by Aaron Palmer, who Cloninger believes is similar to another quarterback right down I-85. They run multiple sets and are a no-huddle teamâ€”a rarity in high school football.
â€œTheir quarterback reminds me of Michael Vick. He can scoot and he can throw. You need to get set defensively and make adjustments without huddling. You can do that (run the no-huddle) when you have 19 returning seniors,â€ he said.
The running back that will see the bulk of the carries will be Trenell Mosely, but Cloninger doesnâ€™t see him as their only threat.
â€œHeâ€™s a big strong physical player who also has a lot of speed. They got a receiver (No. 1 and heâ€™s probably the fastest player on the team,â€ he said.
Providing incentive for Lincolnton will be the fact that it is parents and senior night at Lincolnton Memorial Stadium. That and the fact that a win will all but guarantee a 2A State Playoff game.
â€œYou need to gain some confidence back. With a win Friday night, weâ€™re assured a home playoff game, but with a loss we maybe traveling anywhere from Whiteville, South Roberson or Owen so you better get your traveling shoes,â€ he said.
â€œThere is a lot of pride involved and there is a lot on the line with seeding purposes,â€ he added.
by John Mark Brooks