The East Lincoln Mustangs maybe the most talented 0-3 team in the area, but that doesnâ€™t change their record. Head coach Mike Byus has been happy with some aspects of his teamâ€”such as the play of seniors Thomas Huntley and Ryan Sykes.
But other areasâ€¦ lack of mental focus, penalties and poor execution have had him scratching his head.
Against Newton-Conover, the Mustangs committed 15 penalties, taking 115 yards away from their total yardage. This Friday, as they visit West Caldwell, Byus is not looking to see an encore.
â€œPenalties and lack of focus in the clutch have hurt us. When the pressure is on, we got to take care of business,â€ he said.
While the excessive amount of mental mistakes would be enough to make any coach scratch their head, several Mustangs had solid offensive nights, as they imposed their will on the Red Devilsâ€™ defense.
Sykes had 216 all-purpose yards, Huntley had 127 on 11 catches (which was one of top receiving nights in Lincoln County history over the past 20 years) and Greyson Schram threw for 165 yards and ran for another 40.
Those gaudy numbers leave Byus impressed, but he feels his offense can do even more.
â€œIâ€™m pleased, but I still saw so many things that could make it go even better,â€ he said.
Huntley gave East Lincoln quite a scare in practice Tuesday, spraining his ankle. Although heâ€™s probable for this weekâ€™s game against the Warriors, he is not expected to be 100-percent.
Against the Warriors 3-5 look, Byus plans to run a spread offense, something he believes West Caldwell hasnâ€™t seen much of this season.
â€œWeâ€™re going to spread it out and throw the ball. Sometimes they had as many as six, seven and eight people in the box trying to slow down their running game,â€ he said.
â€œItâ€™s hard to look at what defense theyâ€™ve been running and try to determine what theyâ€™ll try to come up with attempt to stop us.â€
West Caldwell has plenty of speed to run their Wing-T offense. Justin Genwright (No. 6) and No. 23 Brandon Dula are among the Warriors deep talent pool at the skill positions.
â€œAny of those skill kids can score if we donâ€™t take care of our assignment,â€ Byus said.
Expect both teams to be similar up frontâ€¦ not very big and very athletic.
Byus has told his defense one thing could tip off which direction West will attempt running the ball.
â€œWe want to keep an eye on which way those guards are going. That will show us which way the play is going. We want to slow that running game down and try to make them throw it.â€
Against the Red Devils, linebacker Fred Wingate and safety Matt Warren turned in solid performances. This week, defensive tackle Sam Justice, who did not play last week due to a bad knee, is expected to have an impact.
Despite being 0-3, the Mustangs could very easily be 2-1, a belief also held by Byus. The thing heâ€™s trying to get his kids to do is â€˜want it more than the other team.â€™
â€œWe got to get that mentality that weâ€™re going to get the W, whatever takes. I donâ€™t know when that light bulb clicks or turns on for these kids,â€ Byus said.
â€œWhen theyâ€™re going to inside their chest well up with pride and say, â€˜Weâ€™re taking this, this one is ours,â€ he added.
by John Mark Brooks