Game of the Week: Lincolnton Wolves (1-1) at Lake Norman Charter Knights (2-0)
The Lincolnton Wolves begin Southern Piedmont Conference play today against the Lake Norman Charter Knights in Huntersville.
The Knights, with a 2-0 record, lead the conference in points scored and points allowed so far this season, but appear to have taken a page out of the big-time college football handbook by scheduling very weak nonconference opponents.
Lake Norman Charter beat Lake Norman Home School 62-6 to open the season and then beat Fayetteville’s Village Christian 61-0 last week. The Home School did not field a team last year and Village Christian has not won a single game in any of its seasons since 2009.
The Wolves (1-1) are coming off a 49-8 loss to 3A South Point last week. Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said a win in his team’s first conference game of the season was extremely important.
“I told the team this is the most important game of the year,” he said. “We have to get that sour taste out of our mouths from South Point. We have to get headed in the right direction. We need a win to keep pace with other people in the league.”
The Knights make it their mission to get the ball into the hands of 6-foot-3-inch, 190 pound wide receiver/safety/punt returner Alex Scearce.
“He can make things happen,” Cloninger said. “He’s by far the best athlete on the field. They’re throwing short to him, they’re throwing deep to him. They want to get the ball in his hands any way that they can. They bring him in at wingback and he runs reverses or sweeps. They’re utilizing him the way you should utilize a great athlete.”
Lincolnton quarterback Chavis Russell injured his ankle during the first series of last week’s game against South Point, and is questionable for today’s game. Cloninger said Russell would be very limited, if he plays at all. Sophomore fullback Darian Roseboro leads the Lincolnton ground attack for the season with 80 yards on 22 carries and Willie Cobb accounts for the Wolves’ lone offensive touchdown, which came last week against South Point.
“I’ve seen some positive things, offensively, in practice this week,” Cloninger said. “We’re still learning and working. We have a long way to go on special teams. I think this week will be a good gauge to see if we have improved, and I think we have.”
The Lincolnton defense is focused on putting pressure on Lake Norman Charter’s double-wing offense, and making it difficult for the team to get the ball to Scearce.
“We have to know where he’s at,” Cloninger said. “We’re going to have to climb that mountain and get up to where the ball is. We need to get a hand on the ball and knock it down. We need to put some pressure on them up front, and force them to not throw a perfect pass.”
Cloninger said, despite Lake Norman Charter’s productive offense in its first two games, the Lincolnton coaching staff has found tendencies of the Knights that can be used to the Wolves’ advantage.
“I see some things that they’re doing that we’re hoping we can exploit,” he said. “There are certain players that we see and there are ways they play certain things that we think we can capitalize on and make something happen.”
Lake Norman Charter has limited seating at its venue, Hambright Field. Both Lincolnton and Lake Norman Charter fans will be sharing one set of bleachers on the home side, but Cloninger said there is also room for camp chairs or blankets on a hill overlooking the field.
West Lincoln Rebels (2-0, 1-0 SPC) at Fred T. Foard Tigers (1-1)
The West Lincoln Rebels add another chapter to a long-standing rivalry with the Fred T. Foard Tigers today.
The Rebels are 3-7 against the Tigers in the last 10 seasons, but won the last two meetings. West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain said this year’s Tigers are a different team than they’ve been in years past.
“They play faster than a normal Fred T. Foard team has in the past,” he said. “They have a lot more speed, and they play the game faster. They’re not as big as they normally are, but they’re a whole lot faster.”
Foard runs a triple option offense, similar to what the Rebels saw in the first two games of the season against Chase and Highland Tech. The Tigers use a five-man front on defense, and occasionally put six defensive linemen on the line of scrimmage.
The Tigers need a strong defensive front if they hope to slow down West Lincoln’s run game. The Rebels have rushed for 740 yards on 97 carries so far this year. Daniel Davila leads the Rebels with 354 yards on 48 carries with a touchdown. Clay Alguire accounts for three West Lincoln touchdowns to lead the team, with nine carries for 137 yards.
“Our offense is doing a good job,” Sain said. “The offensive line is doing a good job, opening up holes up front. I always have to thank those guys for doing a good job. We have nine backs carrying the football. We’re getting to spread it around a little bit, and we’re adding one or two things every week.”
The Rebel defense has allowed only 10 points and 302 yards of offense so far this season.
“I’m proud of our defense; they’re playing very well right now,” Sain said. “There are a lot of schemes and looks that they’ve put in and they’re getting better at what they’re doing.”
East Lincoln Mustangs (2-0) at Bandys Trojans (2-0)
The East Lincoln Mustangs aim to extend their unbeaten run through the first two weeks of the season against the Bandys Trojans today.
The Mustangs have averaged 48 points through their first two games of the season, and have allowed an average of 40 points. The Trojans have not yet been scored upon, winning shutouts over St. Stephens and Fred T. Foard.
“Their offense is very efficient at what it does,” East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus said. “They’re very disciplined and aggressive on defense, and they have some very quick kids in some spots.”
The Mustangs are 4-1 against Bandys in the last five seasons, and have outscored the Trojans 163-80. The teams have played in the first four weeks of the season for the last five years, but Byus said any game after the first week of school adds some special concerns to the coaches.
“It’s always a tough week for the players,” he said. “They’re not used to being out of bed and in classrooms for seven hours. The biggest thing that concerns me is that they’re probably not quite as hydrated as they should be. Hopefully we won’t have any cramp issues.”
The Trojans run their offense out of the I-formation, and focus on getting the ball to their fullback, running back and wideout.
“They always do things well,” Byus said. “When you watch them on film you expect them to do the things they’re supposed to be doing. They’re impressive, but you come to expect it out of them. They’re always well prepared.”
The Trojans are likely busy preparing for senior East Lincoln quarterback Garrett Young and his stable of receivers. Young has completed 44 of his 60 pass attempts without an interception for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns. Young has targeted seven different receivers, with Jesse Earnhardt leading the pack with 15 receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Chaz Surratt follows a close second, with 11 receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
The Mustangs have allowed an average of 195 rushing yards and 260 passing yards through their first two games. The Hopewell Titans passed for 426 yards and four touchdowns in the Mustangs’ 61-59 win last week.
North Lincoln Knights (0-2) at Bunker Hill Bears (2-0)
The North Lincoln Knights hope to get their first win of the 2012 season against the unbeaten Bunker Hill Bears today.
The Bears defeated Cherryville 42-14 to open the season, and then beat St. Stephens 46-7 last week. The Knights were narrowly edged by Fred T. Foard 16-13 to open the season and were defeated 28-7 by Maiden last week.
The Knights have found their offensive success primarily through the run game, with David Spinner leading the team with 22 carries for 90 yards. Quarterback Corey Blake and running back Daniel Chase have both scored rushing touchdowns for the Knights. Blake has passed for one touchdown, a strike to wide receiver Scott Deluca.