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Football begins in Lincoln County

Three—that’s the number of new football coaches in Lincoln County, as practice opened on Monday.
While three maybe an interesting number to county football fans. One also has made a name of itself.
One represents the 1A/2A Southern Piedmont Conference, the new conference Lincolnton, West Lincoln, East Lincoln and North Lincoln find themselves in.
The Knights, headed by new head coach Matt Beam, had the biggest turnout.
56 Junior Varsity players and 40 Varsity players are on board for Beam’s first season at the helm.
“We’re pleased with the turnout and happy about the excitement they have,” Beam said. They’re excited about getting better and I’m excited about them,” he added.
Because Beam, rich in football knowledge, is young he’s been able to relate to the kids a little bit more.
“Our coaching staff is pretty young. Me being 28, Coach Barnes (Jason), so we want to make football fun, practice fun, but we’re also trying to win games,” Beam said.
Lincolnton had the second biggest turnout in the county with 41 Varsity players and 39 showing up for the Junior Varsity.
“It’s about what I expected. There are a few that didn’t show and a few that did, so it balances out,” Wolves’ head coach Scott Cloninger said.
“I think we maybe the smallest high school in Lincoln County now and our numbers reflect that,” he added.
Cloninger usually doesn’t start implementing new formations and motion sets until the third week of the season.
Due to his experienced players he did just that on Thursday.
“Tonight (Thursday) was probably the best practice we’ve had. We’re a little farther ahead of schedule because of the returning upper-classmen,” Cloninger said.
Randal Gusler, who jettisoned Statesville for West Lincoln, saw 35 Varsity players and 36 Junior Varsity come out.
The Rebels, who won four games last season, are hoping for even bigger things in Gusler’s first year on the sideline.
While beating their opponents is on their mind; they’re more concerned with beating the heat right now.
“Everything has been wonderful. We’ve gone in the mornings to beat the heat,” Gusler said of his team’s 8 a.m. practices.
Not only have the Rebels responded well to the a.m. practices, but they’ve also responded well to Gusler and other new coaches.
“It’s just been a great time so far and we’ve had upbeat practices,” Gusler said. “The kids have caught on very well to what we’re trying to accomplish,” he added.
The third new coach Mike Byus, who will coach East Lincoln, left a very successful program in Robbinsville in favor of being closer to his parents.
After a couple of disappointing seasons, Byus is looking to get the Mustangs back on track, but he knows old habits don’t die quickly.
“Knowing where they’ve come from—being lackadasical, we’re working on a consistent effort from them right now. We just have to keep preaching,” Byus said.
The coach had 32 Varsity players and 29 Junior Varsity turn out—numbers he is not pleased with.
“They’re (the numbers) are way low in my opinion. I don’t know why the numbers are low. I haven’t had a chance to walk the halls everyday,” Byus said. “We might not have many more football players in the building,” he added.
When asked how many he would like to see out, Byus responded, ‘I would love to have 80.’
“Maybe they got turned off to football the last couple of years,” Byus gave as a reason for the low turnout.
While the regular season kicks off August 19th, county players will see live bullets in scrimmages held next week.
With so much tradition, new coaches, a new conference; 2005 figures to be another exciting season of Lincoln County football.
by John Mark Brooks

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