The Lincolnton Wolves held their first official football practice of the 2012-2013 season on Monday with several key position battles still being fought and a focus on preparing for a four-way scrimmage, which will include the West Lincoln Rebels, only 10 days away.
Sixty-six prospective players attended the first practice, 38 from the varsity side and 28 from junior varsity. Those numbers were “a little down” from years past according to head coach Scott Cloninger, but he also said he expected the total number to increase to around 72 athletes, and that he was pleased with the quality of the athletes that did come out.
“I think we can put 22 people on the field that can play,” he said. “That was one of the things that we noticed yesterday, we were thin in numbers but we feel like we can put 22 quality players on the field.”
One of the major objectives for the Wolves is replacing their offensive backfield after quarterback Patrick Rendleman, wingback Michael Cunningham and record-setting fullback Dee Littlejohn all graduated in 2012. Keytwan Ingram, the starting quarterback on last year’s junior varsity team, and junior varsity running back Chavis Russell are both in the hunt for the starting quarterback position. No matter which one winds up taking snaps on Friday nights, they will both have an impact on the Lincolnton offense.
“If Ingram is the starting quarterback then Russell will be a wing,” Cloninger said. “If Russell is the playing quarterback then Ingram goes to wide receiver. We’re going to put the best athletes on the field. They’re still up for grabs, the quarterback situation is wide open.”
Cloninger said there was a chance that the Wolves will work in a two-quarterback system, rotating time between players. That may also be the case at fullback, where Darian Roseboro, Tyrone Roberts and Justice Charles may split their time between offense and defense.
“Those three will rotate around and spend some of their time at fullback,” Cloninger said. “Those boys are also going to play defense. We know they can’t play every minute, so we’re going to rotate people at fullback and wingback, and possibly we’ll play the season with two people at quarterback. We’re going to go that direction and I feel confident that it will work.”
The Wolves are focused on strength and conditioning and teaching new players the playbook at the moment. Many of the veteran athletes attended summer workouts that included drills out of the playbook, but Cloninger said some of the younger plays may be intimidated by all of the new information they are learning.
“We did some plays this summer, and the older guys know the plays but the younger guys’ heads are spinning right now,” he said. “I feel that the guys who have been here this summer had a good jump start and have a good grasp on the offense. We have to mix in conditioning and all of the plays and defense and special teams and get everything ready in a very quick manner.”
The enthusiasm level has been high at the practice so far, and Cloninger said he believes the team is looking forward to carrying on the tradition of Lincolnton football.
“They know that it’s their time to step up,” he said. “A lot of them have been overshadowed in years past. I think the young ones were a little nervous but I think they’re a confident group. I think they have something to prove.”