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Wolves get back to basics

By RYAN HERMAN
Sports Editor

After passing its non-conference schedule with an average grade, Lincolnton has gone back to school.
The Wolves, who went 2-2 in their first four games, got back to basics during the off week last week to iron out some wrinkles that, for many teams, got ironed out before now.
“We went back to some fundamentals work. It’s just the little things that you’re supposed to do early in the season,” longtime Lincolnton coach Scott Cloninger said. “We went back and had a little refresher on that.”
Part of the Wolves’ struggles have come due to that fact they’re two games into a new offense –– the I-formation.
After running some form of the option for years, Cloninger felt it best to change two weeks into the season so that his wing backs could get more touches.
One glaring problem has been fumbles on snaps and exchanges. In its last two games Lincolnton has had 11 fumbles, losing four.
The dropped footballs can be explained –– a new center due to an injury to starter Casey Gamble, and not being used to running the I-formation –– but that doesn’t mean they’re excused.
“Offensively we’re still struggling, just trying to put people in the right places. We just haven’t gotten comfortable offensively, even though we’ve changed offenses,” Cloninger said. “And defensively we’re still trying to make some changes and find the right personnel there, too.”
As with Gamble, injuries have hurt the Wolves as well, so much so they spent much of the off week allowing players ample time to heal.
“I just think we’re a little bit thin. We’re playing people both ways and that’s hurting us. We’ve had a little bit of the injury bug, too. That’s hurt us also,” said Cloninger, who added that three more players were hurt last week during practice.
“We’re thinking they’re game-time situations. That’s a concern for us right now,” he said.
Lincolnton opens Southern District 7 Athletic 2A Conference play at undefeated West Lincoln on Friday.
Although they have some momentum coming off their 27-10 over East Gaston on Sept. 13, the Wolves see themselves as the underdogs.
“We’ve got to be the underdog, because West Lincoln’s proved they deserve to be 4 and 0,” Cloninger said.

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