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No easy rematch for Lincolnton

The celebration lasted throughout the weekend, then it was back to work for the Lincolnton Wolves who refuse to get complacent entering their second round match-up versus Red Springs.
A season ago, the Wolves ended the Red Devils’ season with a 28-6 away win. They’re expecting Red Springs’ best shot. After all, no team wants to have their season ended by the same team in back-to-back years.

The Wolves are coming off a convincing 48-20 first round victory over Mountain Heritage. No one was more impressive than C.J. Wilson, a sophomore running back, who has emerged as a key contributor on what Lincolnton hopes will be a state championship team.
“We have to continue to be pretty equal with the run and the pass. You can’t let somebody zero in on your run game or let them take away your pass game,” head coach Scott Cloninger said about Friday’s game against the Red Devils.
Wilson, who has 1,042 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns and 649 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, will once again be vital to the Wolves’ success.
“He’s now a junior. He’s gone through his sophomore season. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to and he’s improved leaps and bounds,” Cloninger said. “We’re looking forward to bigger and better things from him,” he added, of Wilson, who became the first player since Anwar ‘Goo’ Wyatt to surpass the century mark in both receiving and rushing in the same game.
While Wilson deserves the opponents’ watchful eye, they can’t forget about Zack ‘Mr. Consistent’ Gibson, who has thrown for 2,287 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season.
“We have to continue to mix in the run and pass,” Cloninger said.
Red Springs will run a 4-4 defense and is known for its ability to get to the football and make plays, a fact not missed by Cloninger.
“They’re a very, very quick team. They’re not a big defensive team. They’re just very quick to the ball,” he said.
Lincolnton’s offensive line’s biggest task will be blocking 6-foot-4-inch, 285-pound junior defensive tackle Nick Locklear.

Friday night’s game could very easily turn into an old fashioned western shootout as the Red Devils enter the second round averaging 35 points a game out of their Wing-T attack.
Making it all go will be senior quarterback, 6-foot-1-inch, 170-pound David Campbell (No. 11).
“They’re very similar to Shelby’s Wing-T, because they’re just fast, fast, fast. They’ve got a quarterback who has a lot of talent and runs very well,” Cloninger said.
Perhaps, the biggest playmaker for the Red Devils is 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pound senior Neil Smith (No. 4), who plays running back and defensive back.
“If he (Smith) gets in the secondary, you won’t catch him. They’re the best team we’ve faced since Shelby,” Cloninger said.
Another threat is senior fullback Chris Isaac (5-foot-10-inches, 170 pounds), who does a masterful job running the trap.
“That’s (their explosive potential) a concern for us. They’ve got multiple offensive weapons. It could the last team with the ball wins the ball game,” Cloninger said.
It will be up to Lance ‘Thank God It’s’ Friday and Caleb Grooms, who lead the team in tackles with 118 and 91 respectively, to slow down Smith and company.

Cloninger knows Red Springs hasn’t forgotten about last year’s 28-6 loss, so he’s prepared his team to have extra focus entering Friday’s showdown at Lincolnton Memorial Stadium.
“We beat them. They were a higher seed. Now, they’re coming to our place and they’re a better football team than they were last year,” Cloninger said.
“There are little things we’ve learned about each other, and how well each one of us adapts to it will decide the ball game.”
by John Mark Brooks

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