North Lincoln’s biggest challenge this week in preparation for its next game has been not letting last week’s upset win over Lincolnton go to its head.
For West Lincoln, it’s been spoiling the Knights’ success.
The county rivals clash at 7:30 tonight in Vale with each coming off big Week 1 wins. North Lincoln (1-0) beat the Wolves for just the second time in 10 years, 26-13, while the Rebels (1-0) ran past Valdese Draughn 34-21.
Third-year North Lincoln coach David Maness was concerned how his team would handle being successful after the win. Under his tutelage the Knights have yet to win back-to-back games, and haven’t done so since the 2008 season.
Their win over the then 10th-ranked Wolves was enough to get them into the NCPreps.com Baker’s Dozen 3A poll this week for the first time, and knock Lincolnton out of the 2A poll.
Wins over ranked teams that carry multiple college prospects will get you noticed.
Maness hopes it doesn’t go to his players’ heads.
“Now the key is we’ve got to be able to handle it,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to handle success.”
North Lincoln’s defense did its part to force three Lincolnton turnovers, and after allowing back-to-back scores, which closed a 19-0 lead to 19-13, it held tight. The Wolves outgained the Knights 317-287, but North Lincoln got stops when it needed.
“Our defense, they played pretty solid,” Maness said. “We bent a little bit, but we didn’t break too many times.”
The Rebels, on the other hand, had little trouble at Draughn. They fumbled it away on their first drive, and had the turnover taken the other way for a score. But Charles Mack George rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown, and Daniel Schesny added three TDs on a night when West Lincoln rushed for 332 yards as a team.
Fifth-year West Lincoln coach Tom Sain knows the Knights will be a more formidable opponent than Draughn –– the Wildcats returned just two starters from a team that won only two games in 2013 –– so his biggest concern this week was how hard his team was going to have to practice to compete.
West Lincoln holds a slight edge in the series, 5-4, but has won four of the last five meetings.
“This is going to be a tough week,” Sain said. “I always knew that North Lincoln would improve playing in that 3A conference, and they got a big win against Lincolnton. We have our work cut out for us.”
LINCOLNTON (0-1) at SOUTH POINT (0-1)
Both the Red Raiders and the Wolves sputtered offensively in their season openers last week, but Belmont South Point hasn’t had a problem against Lincolnton, historically. It has won 23 of the 31 meetings between the two, including a 49-0 win last season in which it totaled 500 yards of offense while allowing the Wolves only 177.
That potent South Point offense was nowhere to be found in its season opener last week. The Red Raiders managed just 141 yards of total offense according to the Gaston Gazette, and had three turnovers in a 35-13 loss to Crest. Lincolnton was also plagued by three turnovers in its 26-13 loss at North Lincoln –– its first season-opening loss dating back to 2004.
Lincolnton, which will be without starting junior quarterback Jordon Easter due to a high ankle sprain for the second straight game, last defeated South Point, 43-42, in 2010.
Q. FOUNDATION (0-0) at EAST LINCOLN (1-0)
Although the record books indicate otherwise due to last season’s forfeit win, the Fighting Falcons enter The Corral tonight having lost all three previous meetings to the Mustangs by a combined score of 108-14.
Junior quarterback Chazz Surratt had a monster game against the Charlotte-based school last year. The Division I recruit threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for two more in a 47-6 win.
East Lincoln got off to a rough start last week with three first-half turnovers –– all by Surratt –– but he and his teammates regrouped to outscore East Gaston 21-0 in the second half and play turnover-free football in the 35-14 win.
Surratt threw for 210 yards and two TDs, both to his younger brother, Sage, last week. The Mustangs had 352 yards of total offense while allowing 244.