The East Lincoln Mustangs have one big questionâ€”are we the team that took East Gaston to the wire or are we the team that was on the wrong end of a 42-12 game versus rival Bandys?
While that question hangs in the balance, the Mustangs will continue preparation for another non-conference contest, this time against Newton-Conover.
East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus believes his offensive line needs to step up after a poor second week versus the Trojans, but he still believes in them.
â€œWe have to try to give our quarterback some time and we have to give Mr. (Ryan) Sykes a hole or two. Heâ€™s having to break two or three tackles to get back to the line of scrimmage,â€ he said.
Unfortunately, the Mustangs will be without the services of starting left guard Tim Webb, who is out with a concussion.
When asked what type of things the offensive line needs to work on, Byus is succinct.
â€œWe have to execute better, minimize our mistakes and know our assignments better.â€
On the flip side of the ball, the green and orange defense surrendered two 100-yard rushers last week and gave up another 145 in the air.
That excessive yardage has Byus and staff going back to basic defensive fundamentals.
â€œWe have to line up right and be more aggressive. Weâ€™re having trouble recognizing formations and getting lined up correctly,â€ he said.
The defense will need two players to step up as starters Sam Justice and Travis Hoshell are listed as questionable with injuries.
Every day in practice, East Lincoln has focused on tackling better.
â€œWhen they see it, they have to attack it. We have to tackle better as a team,â€ he said.
Wide receiver D.J. Ferguson may not be big (5â€™9â€ 155), but he is extremely fast according to Byus.
One thing Byus is trying to get across to his kids is he still believes in them. In fact, the main thing he wants to see is improvement throughout their non-conference schedule.
â€œIs it because weâ€™ve played two of the toughest teams on your schedule right off the bat. Thatâ€™s probably got something to do with it.â€
An area Byus has been particularly pleased with is the play of his special teams under coach Lonnie Custer.
The average starting position for the Mustangsâ€™ offense was their own 49-yard line, while they made Bandys start on their 24-yard line.
Sophomore Adrian Forney, Thomas Huntley, Matt Warren and Sykes were responsible for setting the offense up with great field position.
â€œOur coaches are working hard. That light has just got to come on for us as a team,â€ Byus said.
â€œKids always struggle a little bit with a new system. When it starts clicking, weâ€™re going to start looking better and better.â€
by John Mark Brooks