HICKORY– The Lincolnton Wolves wasted no time Friday night in dismantling the St. Stephens Indians 56-13 in the season opening game for both teams.
On the opening kickoff, the Indians` Michael Thompson had the ball knocked loose.
Lincolnton`s Curtis McGill recovered, giving the Wolves excellent field position at the St. Stephens 27-yard line.
Five plays later, quarterback Zack Gibson found Derek Butler in the end zone for a five-yard scoring pass. Gibson, also the holder on extra points, took the snap on the point after attempt, stood up, and tossed the ball to Lance Friday for the two point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
The Wolves would score three more times in the first quarter alone.
When sophomore C.J. Wilson had the ball knocked out of his hands on the St. Stephen`s eight- yard line, Marcus Williams was at the right place at the right time.
Williams scooped it up and raced the final eight yards for the Wolves second touchdown. Following George Ramirez`s extra point, the Lincolnton lead was 15-0.
The Indians were forced to punt on their next possession, and everyone in the Lincolnton stands knew that when Kenny Reed caught the kick, that he was going to give it to the speedy Shane Faw on a reverse. The Wolves special teams unit did a perfect job of setting up the wall and Faw raced 58 yards down the sideline for the score.
Another sophomore, Mardriekus Mayfield, got into the scoring column late in the quarter. Gibson threw a perfect strike to a streaking Mayfield down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown pass to put the game all but out of reach at 28-0, and it was just the end of the first period.
The Wolves added another score in the second quarter on Williams` second rushing touchdown of the night, this time from 18 yards out. Following the Ramirez extra point, the Lincolnton lead stood at 35-0.
St. Stephens finally got on the board just before the half. Quarterback Dee Miller found Justin Young on a 14-yard scoring pass, and following Jake Bollinger`s extra point, the Wolves headed to the locker room up 35-7.
The second half was much the same, as Lincolnton continued to score at will. Gibson tossed a screen pass over to Wilson, and he escampered 56 yards to the end zone for another score. Wilson was actually behind Gibson when he hauled in the pass, thus making the score a rushing touchdown.
Sophomore Demery Brewer hauled in Gibson`s next scoring toss, this one from 19 yards out, building the Wolfpack lead to 49-7 midway through quarter number three.
The final Lincolnton touchdown came from one of the fan favorites. Freshman Johnny Ingram scored from two yards out and Ramirez added yet another extra point to put the Wolves up 56-7.
The Indians added a late touchdown on a 14-yard run by Young, who finished the night with a solid 131 yards on 21 carries.
Speed definitely played a key role in the Wolves victory, as Lincolnton scored on numerous big plays. Special teams also played a big role, as the punt returning of Shane Faw not only accounted for one score, but set up several others.
Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger was very pleased with his teams performance in the season opener.
” I was happy with our defensive effort, especially the play of Tavares Jefferies and Drew Mullen,” said Cloninger. “We put a lot of pressure on their quarterback all night,” the coach noted.
Cloninger was also pleased with the play of the offense.
“C.J., Marcus and Zack all had good games,” Cloninger stated, “and I was very happy with the play of the offensive line.” “We need consistency out of the offensive line,” the coach said.
Cloninger also pointed out that throughout much of the second half, the offensive line was made up of four sophomores and a freshman.
Gibson had a solid game from the quarterback position, completing six of eight attempts for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Demery Williams, Butler, Faw, Mayfield and Brewer all made big plays on the receiving end.
The Wolvesâ€™ ground game was well balanced, with Wilson and Marcus Williams leading the way with 75 and 61 yards respectively. Ingram carried the ball nine times for 29 yards in his first high school game.
The Wolves (1-0) will have their home opener this Friday night at Memorial Stadium against South Point. St. Stephens (0-1) will be on the road at North Iredell.
by David Keever