Tonight the East Lincoln Mustangs will square off against Cherryville, Bessemer City and Highland Tech.
The Mustangs have already practiced against the Maiden Blue Devils and held a scrimmage versus Newton-Conover Red Devils.
East head coach Matt Rikard, when asked to reflect on his teamâ€™s play, was happy with one side of the ball more than the other.
â€œWe were pleased with the defense. We felt like they (our defense) played very physical and we got a lot of people to the football. Of course, there were mistakes made, but thatâ€™s the reason you play them,â€ he said.
Two of his players that have stepped up during the preseason are linebacker Xavier Alexander and noseguard Samuel Justice.
â€œHeâ€™s a tenth-grader that got moved up and won himself a starting position,â€ Rikard said of Justice.
The other side of the football has left some areas to be desired.
â€œOffensively, we felt like we had some bright spots, but we have to learn how to hang on to the ball and execute better,â€ Rikard said.
In Mondayâ€™s practice against the 1A powerhouse Blue Devils, Rikard was happy with his teamâ€™s play.
â€œI felt like it was a pretty even-matched scrimmage,â€ he said.
Against the Red Devils on Tuesday, the Mustangs outscored their opponent two scores to one. Junior tailback Ryan Sykes ran for a touchdown and tight end Carlos Marquez hauled in a pass for a score.
In the first two scrimmages, Rikard feels that depth hasnâ€™t been a problem like it was last year due to an increase in the number of players.
â€œWe kept our skill people rotated in and out. Right now, we have just enough linemen to where we can keep them fresh for the most part. An injury on the line will blow all that out of the water,â€ he said.
Although scrimmages are good in terms of player evaluation, Rikard is more concerned about coming away on top.
â€œYouâ€™re going to see how the players react, but you want to win too. Thatâ€™s the bottom line with anything. I feel like they went out there with a lot of energy. As far as the effort and defense, I was satisfied. As far as on offense, we still have a lot of work to do.â€
Quarterbacks Grayson Schram and Seth Alexander are battling for the starting quarterback position. Rikard feels neither one has separated himself from the other.
â€œThe quarterback starting position is still up in the airâ€” more so now than two weeks ago. They will both see a lot of reps. Hopefully, we can have it nailed down to one before the start of conference, but during the non-conference games theyâ€™ll probably both see a lot of reps,â€ he said.
Heading into tonightâ€™s scrimmage at Bessemer City Rikard and his team already have their eyes fixed on their first game which is a week away.
â€œWeâ€™re already getting prepared for Bandys as far as watching film and getting our players. Donâ€™t want to see fumbles and the misalignments. Itâ€™s the last live action before we play next Friday night, so we want to make sure we can look as polished as we can.â€