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Wolves have tough test at Carver

Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger instructs his team during practice this week in preparation for Winston-Salem Carver.

By RYAN HERMAN
Sports Editor

Winston-Salem Carver has two characteristics that make a high school football team successful: Speed and size.
Lincolnton knows it, but is ready for the task at hand.
The top-seeded Yellow Jackets (11-1) host the ninth-seeded Wolves (8-4) at 7:30 tonight in a NCHSAA state 2A playoff game that features one team which is rolling and another that is faced with the tough job of stopping said team.
Carver hasn’t lost since falling to undefeated and AP-poll third-ranked 4A Greensboro Dudley 24-0 in the season opener.
Wolves coach Scott Cloninger said the Yellow Jackets are the fastest team he’s seen on film and will see in person, and that they have some players “big enough to sell shade.”
Given all that, he knows his team is in for quite a challenge.
“They’re a handful, I can promise you that,” Cloninger said.
Carver, which defeated South Caldwell 44-7 last week in the first round, has scored 50 or more points four times this season while its defense is holding teams to 12.8 points per game.
Lincolnton is coming off its best defensive effort of the year, Cloninger said. The Wolves held Thomasville to 135 yards of total offense in the 14-7 first round win.
While not as bad as Thomasville, Lincolnton struggled offensively as well as it managed just 230 total yards –– 176 on the ground. Those were its fewest since gaining just 167 against East Lincoln in Week 6.
Cloninger knows a better effort offensively –– and even defensively –– must come tonight to move on to the next round.
“We’ve got to play one of our best games of the year, and we know that, we’ve discussed that,” he said. “What we feel like we’ve got to do offensively is run the ball and keep the ball away from them a little bit. And defensively just don’t give up the big play. If we can make them grind it out, that’s not what they want to do.
“They want to hit you quick and fast, and we want them to have to work for everything they get.”
Tonight’s game will be the fourth state-ranked team Lincolnton has faced this season. The Yellow Jackets were ranked fourth in the season’s final Associated Press poll last week. East Lincoln, South Point and Maiden were also ranked when they each faced the Wolves.
But Cloninger has been in big games before against successful opponents, and tonight’s no different.
“We’re used to playing people that are ranked and we look forward to the challenge,” he said, “and we know it’s a huge challenge.”

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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