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Rebels, Mustangs square off

Evan St. Clair / Special to LTN
East Lincoln freshman Chaz Surratt, seen here against East Gaston, will start for the Mustangs at quarterback today.

MICHAEL GEBELEIN
Sports Editor

Game of the Week: East Lincoln Mustangs (7-0, 3-0 SPC) at West Lincoln Rebels (4-3, 2-1 SPC)
The West Lincoln Rebels hope to end the East Lincoln Mustangs’ undefeated streak in today’s cross-county matchup.
“Any time you get a chance to play an undefeated team you have to go into those games knowing that you can’t make mistakes,” West Lincoln head coach Tom Sain said. “Teams like that will capitalize on mistakes. We have to be consistent and go out and play hard to compete against teams that are undefeated.”
Both teams had a new face at quarterback last week as a result of injuries. East Lincoln freshman Chaz Surratt, one of the Mustangs’ top receivers, went under center in the first quarter of last week’s game against Lincolnton when senior Garrett Young suffered a knee injury and West Lincoln junior Miguel Corella had his first start at quarterback against Cherryville because of a rib injury to starter Corey Smith.
East Lincoln head coach Mike Byus said Young was on crutches this week and has yet to have an MRI on his knee. Surratt passed for 103 yards and a touchdown on five completions against Lincolnton, and will start today’s game at quarterback.
“He knows the offense, being a receiver and backup quarterback, so I don’t see where there will be any limitations in the offense,” Byus said. “But it’s hard to have that thrown on you right in the middle of the game. You get some practice reps in practice but not as many as if you’re practicing to be the starter.”
Corella had a breakout game for the Rebels in their 45-14 win over Cherryville. He had 12 carries for 116 yards and four touchdowns and threw for 72 yards on three completions, including a touchdown pass to senior receiver Dalton Rhoney.
“Any time you can move the ball in the air and on the ground that really helps you offensively,” Sain said.
Today’s game is the first time the Rebels will face an offense that can throw the ball the way East Lincoln does. The Mustangs have passed for nearly 300 yards per game with 3.5 passing touchdowns per game.
“We’ve some teams that throw the football but we’ve seen more of the option look,” Sain said. “It’s going to be a lot of new things for our secondary. We know they’re going to throw the ball, and that’s what we have to be concerned about this week.”

Cherryville Ironmen (3-4, 2-1 SPC) at Lincolnton Wolves (2-5, 1-2 SPC)
The Lincolnton Wolves aim to get their third win of the season today against a strong and fast Cherryville team.
The Ironmen secured wins over North Lincoln and Bessemer City in the first two weeks of conference play, but were manhandled by the West Lincoln Rebels in a 45-14 loss last week. Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said his team hopes to keep the Ironmen off-balance today.
“We’re going to try to use as many different formations as we can,” he said. “We’ll need to move the ball around and keep them guessing.”
The Wolves came up short against the East Lincoln Mustangs last week, losing 13-8, but Cloninger said he saw improvement in the loss.
“We played a very good East Lincoln team to a one-score game,” he said. “I feel like we’re heading in the right direction but we’re just going to have to score some points.”
He said missteps have cost the Wolves, who average 18 points per game and have scored in double digits in only two games, a higher capacity for scoring.
“We’re playing so many young people,” Cloninger said. “I can watch film after the game and I can see someone make a mistake each play. We don’t have that superstar on the offensive side of the ball that can make up for it.”
Lincolnton’s top ball carrier, sophomore Darian Roseboro (61 carries, 300 yards, five touchdowns), will likely see less time on offense after a standout performance on defense against East Lincoln with 11 tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss.
“I think when we took Roseboro out of the backfield it hurt us a little but it made our defense better,” Cloninger said. “I think we were just physically wearing him down when he had to play every play on offense and every play on defense. He’s going to play some offense but we just don’t know where we’ll play him on offense.”
Cloninger said Roseboro may see time at tight end, tackle or fullback.

Lake Norman Charter Knights (6-0, 3-0 SPC) at North Lincoln Knights (1-6, 1-2 SPC)
The North Lincoln Knights picked up their first win of the season last week against a Highland Tech team near the bottom of the Southern Piedmont Conference standings.
North Lincoln faces a much different opponent for today’s homecoming game against Lake Norman Charter. Lake Norman Charter is one of two undefeated teams left in the conference, and has already secured wins over Lincolnton and West Lincoln. The team has used its double wing, shotgun offense to score 336 season points, the most of any team in the conference, while allowing only 59 total points, another conference record, to its opponents through seven weeks of the season.
The North Lincoln defense will have to pay special attention to senior LNC wide receiver Alex Scearce. Searce has accounted for 12 of the team’s 37 season touchdowns, and is a major threat at wideout with 15 receptions for 433 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s going to draw some attention from our defense,” North Lincoln head coach David Maness said. “We have to be able to defend the perimeter. But the best defense is a good offense. We need to limit their possessions and try to keep the ball as much as we can.”
North Lincoln had its best offensive game of the season last week against Highland Tech. The team picked up nearly 300 rushing yards, with nine different backs carrying the ball. North Lincoln played its junior varsity team for the entirety of the second half.
“When everybody gets to play on Friday, practice on Monday is a lot better,” Maness said. “It was important, from our standpoint, not only to win, but to play well while we were doing it and have something to build on.”
Maness said he has seen the North Lincoln offense improving week to week, and hopes to continue that trend today.
“We’ve had more success in the last couple of weeks because we’ve narrowed down what we do best, and tried to focus our practice time on those things,” he said. “Ball possession is imperative to us. We have to move the football and eat up some clock time while we do. We have to keep it for six or eight minutes and then finish it.”

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