West Lincoln is anxious to prove to everyone last weekâ€™s 60-6 loss to conference leader Lincolnton was a fluke.
After sulking about the defeat over the weekend, it was back to work on Monday, preparing for cross-county rival East Lincoln in a fight for second place in the Southern Piedmont.
â€œWe were trying to do too much at times. We ended up turning the ball over and I think the kids understand weâ€™re a better football team that what we played Friday night,â€ head coach Randall Gusler said.
Against the Wolves, the Rebels were able to gain only 89 total yards. The biggest play of the night came on Ben Pooleâ€™s electrifying surge through the middle of Lincolntonâ€™s kickoff team for a 90-yard touchdown.
This week, Gusler is hoping for a completely different story.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to go out and execute, not turn the football over and we have to put some points on the board,â€ he said. â€œOur kids are very realistic. We know we needed to play mistake-free and we didnâ€™t. I donâ€™t think confidence will be an issue this week,â€ he added.
To beat East Lincoln, West may be without the services of talented junior quarterback Taylor Woodie, who sprained his left MCL last week. Heâ€™s listed as questionable heading into the away game and the team should know more on Thursday.
â€œItâ€™s hard to say because heâ€™s a tough kid. Weâ€™ll have to wait until Thursday,â€ Gusler said. â€œWe hope he can go.â€
Things donâ€™t get any easier for the Rebelsâ€™ defense a week after facing C.J. â€˜The Snakeâ€™ Wilson. This week, itâ€™s another elite back in the Southern Piedmontâ€”Ryan Sykes.
â€œHeâ€™s a very impressive runner. He has a lot of skills, can run fast, is quick and has good vision. Heâ€™s a dag-gone good running back,â€ Gusler said.
The coach knows itâ€™s not just Sykes that makes the Mustangs go, as the green-and-orange also has several other athletes capable of making a undeniable impact on the game.
â€œI feel like their quarterback (Greyson Schram), their other tailback (Adrian Forney) and their receiver (Thomas Huntley) are all good skill people. We got to be able to come out and play good solid defense and be able to try to stop them,â€ Gusler said.
Heâ€™s particularly impressed with Huntley, who some call a â€˜silent assassin.â€™
â€œHeâ€™s what you look for in a receiver. Heâ€™s tall, has great speed and good hands. He does a good job finding ways to get open and does a good job running after the catch. Heâ€™s a heck of an athlete,â€ Gusler said.
In Guslerâ€™s mind, whoever wins Fridayâ€™s contest will also punch their ticket into the 2A State Playoffs, a goal that has eluded the school throughout their history.
â€œYouâ€™re playing for that conference playoff spot. Itâ€™s something thatâ€™s never been done at West Lincoln and of course West Lincoln would love to have,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s something theyâ€™ve talked about since day one and here we are in a position where we can come through,â€ he added.
by John Mark Brooks