Game of the Week: Highland Tech Rams (0-4, 0-1 SPC) at Lincolnton Wolves (1-4, 0-1 SPC)
The Lincolnton Wolves aim to get a second notch in the win column and move up in the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A Conference standings against the winless 1A Highland Tech Rams on homecoming today.
The Rams have perennially struggled on the football field, boasting an 11-59 overall record over the past five seasons and a 21-81 record in the past 10 seasons. The 2012 season isn’t shaping up much better —the Rams have been outscored 185-6 through their first four games of the year.
“They’re another young team,” Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said. “They’re a 1A school and they’re trying to compete and they have their struggles just like we have our struggles. This is one of those games; it’s homecoming and we don’t want anyone to get caught up in the hoopla. We need to stay focused and get back on track.”
That getting “back on track” includes the return of several key players who were injured before last week’s 49-7 loss against Forestview. The absence of several key players last week forced the Wolves to switch their offensive scheme to the I-formation, but Lincolnton is back in its double-wing set for today’s game. Sophomore wingback Chavis Russell makes his return in today’s game after missing two weeks with an ankle injury. Sophomore lineman Bradley Franklin and sophomore running back/defensive back Quinlyn Harris, the team’s leader in receiving yards, are also back on the Wolves roster.
“We got a little bit of speed back when Russell came back,” Cloninger said. “We’re just trying to put people in the game to get some experience and learn so they can take over those positions. We’re getting healthier. I see us heading in the right direction.”
Although three key players are making their return this week, three others are doubtful for today’s game.
Sophomore fullback Darian Roseboro, the team’s leading ball carrier with 61 carries for 300 yards and five touchdowns and one of the team’s defensive leaders, is doubtful for today’s game with an ankle sprain received in the Forestview game. Senior tight end Matthew Wray, the Wolves’ leader in receptions, is doubtful after being hit in the back going up for a pass against Forestview and Drew Dawson, a junior lineman, is out with an ankle injury.
Roseboro’s replacement today is junior Justice Whitesides. Whitesides had 13 carries for 65 yards to lead the Wolves against Forestview. His backup is junior Justice Charles.
Cloninger said the team is focused on making a positive move in today’s game.
“I think our kids are focused and understand that we’re in a little bit of a slump right now, but the best medicine we can take is a win,” he said. “This crowd seems to understand that the most important thing for us right now is to get back into the win column. We’re working on Lincolnton High School, to try and get better.”
East Lincoln Mustangs (5-0, 1-0 SPC) at North Lincoln Knights (0-5, 0-1 SPC)
The East Lincoln Mustangs and the North Lincoln Knights add another chapter to a 10-year-old rivalry today when they meet in Southern Piedmont Conference play.
The Mustangs are 8-1 in the preview nine games the teams have played, and have outscored the Knights 353-153 during that time period. North Lincoln’s only win over East Lincoln came in 2007, the Knights’ best year in school history as they finished with a 10-4 record and an exit in the third round of the playoffs.
“It’s a rivalry game, and anything can happen in a rivalry game,” East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus said. “We’ve just preached sportsmanship all week and just play the game and stay out of the head games and the extracurricular stuff.”
The Knights will have to defend against a blistering East Lincoln offense that has boosted the team to a perfect 5-0 start to the season and an average of 48 points scored per game, with a defense that has allowed opponents just over an average of 28 points per game. Senior East Lincoln quarterback Garrett Young has passed for over 300 yards in every game so far, and is only 1,186 yards shy of the Lincoln County career passing record.
“I don’t know if you can stop him; I hope we can just slow him down a little bit,” North Lincoln head coach David Maness said. “We’ll give them some different looks. He’s throws it pretty well and he has some good people to throw it to.”
Young has favored receivers Chaz Surratt, Jesse Earnhardt and Tyler Brock, each with over 400 receiving yards. Maness said the matchup between the Mustangs’ receivers and the Knights’ defensive backs may not favor North Lincoln, he hopes his team can have an impact on East Lincoln’s offense in another way.
“What we hope to do is keep the ball on offense, keep it away from them if we can,” he said. “The idea that we’re going to come in and shut them down — nobody else has done a very good job of that. We hope maybe we can get a couple of stops and then keep the ball away from them.”
A recent wrinkle in North Lincoln’s offense may result in a long-lasting change at the quarterback position. Senior Cory Blake has missed the past two weeks with a shoulder injury on his throwing arm and sophomore backup Devan Cox was tabbed by the North Lincoln coaching staff as his replacement. Cox has passed for 229 yards on14 completions with two interceptions in his two starts.
“Cox seems to get a little bit better each week,” Maness said. “He had to come in because of an injury but I think he’s probably played himself into a little bit better situation.”
The shoulder injury still prevents Blake from playing quarterback, but he may see time at wingback or safety in today’s game.
Lake Norman Charter Knights (4-0, 1-0 SPC) at West Lincoln Rebels (3-2, 1-0 SPC)
The West Lincoln Rebels are back at Douglas C. Leonhardt Stadium today, after a three-game road stretch, for a homecoming clash with the Lake Norman Charter Knights.
The Rebels are coming off of a 24-16 win over the North Iredell Raiders last week as they resume Southern Piedmont Conference play today. West Lincoln picked up a win in its conference opener against Highland Tech 49-0 in the second week of the season.
The Rebels may be without senior fullback Daniel Davila, the team’s top offensive threat by far, in today’s game. Davila, with 114 carries for 819 yards and six touchdowns on the season, suffered a foot injury against North Iredell. West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain said Davila will dress out for today’s game but will be limited if he is able to play, and will likely be a game time decision.
Lake Norman Charter opened conference play with a narrow 30-28 win over the Lincolnton Wolves in the third week of the season. The Knights have dominated nonconference play, beating teams like the Lake Norman Home School Chargers 82-6 to open the year and most recently beating Wake Christian 67-0 last week. The Knights average 60 points per game and, aside from the win over Lincolnton and the six points scored by the Chargers, have pitched two shutouts.
The Rebels have averaged 299 rushing yards per game and just over 26 points scored per game through the first five weeks of the season.
The Knights rely heavily on the tandem senior tailback Tripp Smith and senior wide receiver Alex Scearce. Smith leads the team in rushing yards with 36 carries for 356 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Scearce, at 6-foot-1-inch and 190 pounds, is second on the team in rushing yards with nine carries for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Scearce is the main receiver on the team, with six receptions for 151 yards and three touchdowns.