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Football teams face final games before Southern Piedmont Conference play

East Lincoln quarterback Garrett Young looks downfield against Bandys.

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
Sports Editor

Game of the Week: Shelby (0-3) at Lincolnton (1-2, 0-1 SPC)
The Lincolnton Wolves host the 0-3 Shelby Golden Lions today, but Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger called that record “misleading.”
“They play great teams,” he said. “They’ve played A.L. Brown, which is one of the best teams in the state. They lost to an undefeated Ashbrook and an undefeated Crest. Once the playoffs begin I think you’ll see Shelby make another run.”
The Lions converted to a spread offense last season, and are less focused on primarily using a ground attack as they have been in years past. Cloninger said he was impressed with Shelby’s size on both sides of the ball, their athleticism and their speed in the defensive backfield.
“They always bring big, strong people up front on both sides of the ball, and they have very fast skill people,” he said. “Their secondary is fast, and they cover the field very well.”
Lincolnton, coming off a 30-28 loss to Southern Piedmont Conference rival Lake Norman Charter, is heading in the right direction, Cloninger said.
“It may not be reflected on the scoreboard,” he said, “but I see us taking the steps forward that we need to take.”
One of those steps is the addition of freshman quarterback Jordon Easter to the lineup. Cloninger called him “the quarterback of the future.” Easter has completed three of his five pass attempts for 51 yards, with one interception, and has 105 rushing yards on 26 carries through the third week of the season. Cloninger complimented the Wolves’ offensive line for their protection of Easter is his first start of his varsity career, against Lake Norman Charter. The Wolves were also pleased with their ability to control the clock against Lake Norman Charter, including a 21-play drive in the fourth quarter.
Shelby has averaged less than a touchdown per game through the first three weeks of the season, while allowing nearly 35 points per game. Lincolnton has averaged 15 points per game, while allowing almost 29 points. Sophomore fullback Darian Roseboro leads the Lincolnton ground attack with 218 yards on 47 carries for four touchdowns.
East Gaston (0-3) at East Lincoln (3-0)
The East Lincoln Mustangs hope to continue their unprecedented win streak against the East Gaston Warriors today.
East Lincoln is 3-0 for the first time under head coach Mike Byus, but he said East Gaston is “always trouble.”
“We don’t want to take any of our games lightly,” he said. “They’re not as explosive this year, compared to last year.”
How the Warriors will handle the Mustangs’ explosive passing game is a big question, even for the East Lincoln coaching staff. The Warriors most recently lost to South Point, which runs a double-wing, triple option offense, 76-11. South Point attempted only a handful of passes in that game.
East Lincoln has steadily added more run plays into its offense, but still has more than two times more passing yards than rushing yards. Senior quarterback Garrett Young, yet to throw an interception, has completed 59 of 84 pass attempts for 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns. Tyler Brock, Jesse Earnhardt and Chaz Surratt all have more than 200 receiving yards, with Earnhardt’s 17 receptions for 330 yards and three touchdowns. The Mustangs have 402 rushing yards through the first three weeks of the season, with Marquis Pharr and Domonique Smith both cracking the 100-yard mark.
“Whether you’re winning or not winning you have things you do well and things you need to work on,” Byus said. “We’re trying to continue working on those things that we’re not doing well. We’re trying to take the games one at a time, and we’ve done a good job of that so far.”
Bandys (2-1) at North Lincoln (0-3)
The North Lincoln Knights face a Bandys Trojans team today that has been remarkably stingy on defense through the first three weeks of the season. The Trojans won their first two games, both shutouts, before allowing 48 points in a 48-20 loss to the East Lincoln Mustangs last week. That loss brought the Trojans’ points-allowed average to 16 points while averaging 29 points-for.
The Knights had their most productive offensive effort of the season last week in their 39-16 loss to the Bunker Hill Bears. Senior running back Scott DeLuca leads both the North Lincoln running backs and receivers, with 13 carries for 132 yards and a touchdown and two receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown. Senior quarterback Corey Blake has completed seven of his 25 pass attempts for 96 yards and a touchdown, with four interceptions.
“The first half last week was probably the best half of football that we’ve played,” North Lincoln head coach David Maness said. “We have to get better at handling situations where things don’t quite go our way, and get back and stay in the games. But I do think we’re getting better, and our younger kids are improving a lot.”
West Lincoln (2-1, 1-0 SPC) at East Rutherford (1-2)
The West Lincoln Rebels hope to bounce back from last week’s 34-31 loss at Fred T. Foard against the East Rutherford Cavaliers today.
The Cavaliers are coming off a 42-21 win over North Gaston. East Rutherford quarterback T.J. Watkins threw two touchdown passes against North Gaston, ran for a touchdown and completed 12 of his 20 pass attempts for 164 yards. Watkins favored receivers Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez, Caleb McEntyre and Cody Hall against North Gaston.
The Rebels have relied heavily upon their run game in the first three games of the season. Fullback Daniel Davila has 80 carries for 561 yards and three touchdowns, more than half of the team’s 1,008 rushing yards on 143 carries. Clay Algurie and Tracey Messer have both passed the 100-yard rushing mark for the season, with Algurie contributing four touchdowns.
West Lincoln quarterback Corey Smith has completed three of his nine pass attempts for 69 yards.

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