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Teams face tough Week 2 games, Rebels begin conference play

The West Lincoln Rebels line up in a scrimmage against Burns earlier in the season.

West Lincoln faces first SPC foe in Highland Tech Rams

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
Sports Editor

The West Lincoln Rebels are the first football team in Lincoln County to open conference play, with a home game today against the 0-1 Highland Tech Rams.
The Rams are coming off of a 59-0 loss to Victory Christian Academy to open the season last week, while the Rebels (1-0) picked up a 13-10 win over the Chase Trojans.
West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain said he wants his team to continue the trend they began last week, when they ran the ball for 260 yards on 51 carries against Chase.
“You always want to try to do a little bit better job at what you’re doing, and eliminate any mistakes you made the week before,” he said. “We talked a lot last week about playing consistently. We’ve tried to carry that over into this week. We’re not only trying to play consistently, but we’re working on doing everything correctly.”
Sain said the Rebels have focused on their assignment play in practice this week, along with getting into their alignments and running the correct plays as they’re called by the coaching staff.
Highland Tech runs a triple option offense, with a focus on the quarterback and fullback. The Rams have a 25-member roster, and Sain said, based on the film he saw from Highland Tech’s game against Victory Christian Academy, the Rams have “good-sized linemen” on both sides of the football. The Rams operate their defense out of a 50-front, in an effort to stop their opponents from running the ball.
The Rebels made sparing use of the pass against Chase, but quarterback Corey Smith was effective when he did make a throw. One of his two completions found Clay Alguire in the second quarter for a touchdown. Sain said the West Lincoln offense may still evolve in the coming weeks.
“There are still things that we want to do that we haven’t added yet,” he said. “I like the way we work, our guys are hungry and work hard each week. The coaches push them hard and they push each other hard.”

Hopewell at East Lincoln
The East Lincoln Mustangs enter Week 2 hoping to repeat last year’s 39-24 win over the 4A Hopewell Titans. Hopewell lost its first game of the 2012 season 30-19 to Providence, but East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus said the Titans were impressive in their first outing.
“Their team speed looked really good,” he said. “Hopewell probably had better stats than Providence. They’re not a huge team, but they’re fast.”
East Lincoln opened the season with a 35-21 win over the Newton-Conover Red Devils last week, and senior quarterback Garrett Young threw 351 yards on 26 completions and freshman wide receiver Chaz Surratt caught eight passes for 127 yards. The Mustangs added 150 yards on 31 rushes from seven different ball carriers.
“Any time you just win the first game, with all of the stuff you go through getting to it, I think it’s a positive,” Byus said. “Then you just go back to work and try to correct your mistakes.”
The Titans run a spread offense, with a base 3-4 defense.

Lincolnton at South Point
The Lincolnton Wolves (1-0) face what head coach Scott Cloninger called “the toughest team on our schedule” when they travel to Belmont to face the South Point Red Raiders today.
“Speed-wise, they could very possibly be the fastest team in the state of North Carolina,” Cloninger said. “They lost a good many seniors from last year’s team, but they’re a 3A school so they have a few more kids to select from. They have the tradition. They don’t rebuild, they reload.”
Lincolnton pulled out a 9-7 win over Maiden last week, but all of Lincolnton’s points came when the team was on defense. The Wolves gained 102 yards rushing and completed one pass for 24 yards.
“If we would have had a better offensive showing last week, it would be OK,” Cloninger said. “We have a huge uphill battle this week. The defense is going to be challenged at every corner. With the way we sputtered on offense last week, it allows other teams to do some things against us that are concerning.”
South Point runs a double-wing, triple option offense, the same as Lincolnton. The Red Raiders run a defense out of a 3-4 base, and have a slight size advantage over the Wolves on both sides of the ball.
Cloninger said he felt it was a good thing to pit his team against a tough opponents early on in the season.
“We’re playing one of the top five 3A teams in the state this week,” he said. “But that’s what we do, we play good people to get better. Hopefully our kids will realize that.”

North Lincoln at Maiden
The North Lincoln Knights (0-1) face the Maiden Blue Devils (0-1) today. North Lincoln lost to Fred T. Foard 16-13 to open the season last week, while Maiden fell to Lincolnton.
North Lincoln head coach David Maness said his team has focused on fundamentals in practice this week — blocking and tackling, getting into the correct alignment and correcting mental mistakes.
“We’re not a very experienced football team,” he said. “When things go a little bit sideways it’s easy to start thinking about two or three plays ahead rather than thinking about the play at hand. Those are things we’ll just have to get better at, and I think time will do that.”
The Knights rushed for 198 yards on 43 carries against Fred T. Foard, with David Spinner leading the pack with 70 yards on 10 carries. Senior quarterback Corey Blake completed three of his 12 pass attempts for 49 yards.
The Maiden offense found some limited success against Lincolnton last week, but nearly every offensive gain was quickly taken away by penalties. The Blue Devils were charged with 17 penalties, including several personal fouls, for a loss of 160 yards. They also fumbled the ball seven times, and lost three. The Knights were tapped for 13 penalties for 85 yards against Foard, and turned the ball over twice, once on a fumble and once on an interception.
“Those are things that we’d like to take advantage of, but we had a lot of penalties ourselves last week,” Maness said. “We can only work with one team, and that’s ourselves.”

An East Lincoln receiver catches a pass in a practice earlier in the season.

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