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Knights focus on defense

By RYAN HERMAN
Sports Editor

Through its first four games North Lincoln saw it had the ability to move the football. Stopping that process was a different story.
The Knights, who scored at least 27 points in three of their four non-conference games, gave up an average of 31.3 points per game on their way to a 1-3 start heading into their North Piedmont 3A/4A Conference opener at home against defending 2AA state champion South Iredell on Friday.
Tying up any loose ends defensively was their focus during last week’s open week.
“We focused on our defense. We spent a lot of time on our defense individually and on fundamentals,” North Lincoln head coach David Maness said. “We play a real up-tempo team this week. We’ve tried to ensure that we play a little faster pace on that side of the ball.”
The Knights (1-3), who enjoyed their first win of the season on Sept. 13 in a 41-28 victory over Bessemer City, are averaging 296.5 yards per game. But their defense is last in the county at allowing 293 yards per game.
Even being somewhat pleased with his offense, Maness knows that if his team is going to compete in a conference that is home to a defending state champion and a Western Regional runner-up last season in Statesville, it’s going to have to improve on the defensive side of the football.
“Offensively we’ve tried to work on some things that we’ve been doing well, and tried to get a little bit better. If we can eliminate the few mistakes we’ve been making,” he said. “We’ve been playing fairly decent on offense.”
The win helped steer things in the right direction for the Knights.
“I think it helps us,” Maness said. “Anytime you win it does.”
Maness said he feels his team is better than its record displays, which goes back to mistakes made on both sides of the ball.
“We feel a little disappointed. We feel we’ve probably played well enough to be a little bit better record-wise than we are. But we’ve played a good schedule. Hopefully it’s going to prepare us for the next few weeks,” he said. “For our players to make the playoffs we need to step it up a little bit these next few weeks if we plan on doing that.”

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