The Lincolnton Wolves will face another good running back this week. After facing Tommy Henry and Rafael Littlejohn, the Wolves will now set their sights on East Lincoln tailback Ryan Sykes.
Sykes finished with 33 yards on nine carries in last weekâ€™s 19-0 loss to West Lincoln. The numbers are somewhat misleading as he sat out the final eight minutes of the half for slamming the football down out of frustration.
Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger knows that containing Sykes will be a big key.
â€œRyan Sykes, heâ€™s as good as running back as there is in the county. You just want to try to contain him and not let him put the big numbers up,â€ he said.
Citing the Mustangsâ€™ team speed, Cloninger and defensive coordinator Ledford Gibson have one thing on their minds.
â€œWe would just like to play sound defense, slow them down and contain them as much as we can.â€
The Wolves surrendered 144 yards to Littlejohn last week and over 150 yards to Maidenâ€™s Henry in the first game of the season. So is Cloninger concerned?
â€œNo, I think weâ€™re a bend-but-not break defense. Weâ€™re going to get a little greedy the closer you get to the goal line,â€ he said also pointing out that Henry and Littlejohn are exceptional backs.
It has been a running back by committee for the Wolves. Dusty Friday, Darrell Friday and Jacqueece Reeves have all seen multiple attempts.
Cloninger hopes that the trio along with Lance Friday can step up against East Lincoln.
â€œWeâ€™re gonna have to control the ball and keep the ball away from them. Weâ€™ll need to run the football against the them because they have a lot of big play capability when their on offense,â€ he said.
The coach wants to see his offensive unit improve as the season progresses.
â€œWeâ€™re just trying to improve each week as an offensive teamâ€” block a little better, run a little harder and just get better basic football skills,â€ Cloninger said.
While the Wolves will have a home crowd behind them on Friday, Cloninger is more concerned with winning the turnover battle and not making mental mistakes.
â€œWe need to maintain our composure and cut down on turnovers. When we donâ€™t turn the ball over, weâ€™re going to have some success. Weâ€™re trying to improve each week.â€by John Mark Brooks