Itâ€™s difficult enough of a task to enter a football game versus the defending 3A state champions, but Lincolnton Wolvesâ€™ head coach Scott Cloninger has even more on his mind this week.
The Wolves would have had one day of preparation time come Friday due to Cloninger giving his football team Labor Day off as reward for beating East Lincoln 12-0 last Friday and to inclement weather that has plagued Lincoln County.
The weather is not the only thing that makes it hard for Cloninger to sleep at night as he feels that his team has to become more consistent in solid execution.
â€œWeâ€™re playing tag. One person on each play makes a mistake on offense. Itâ€™s a different person either takes a play off or blows an assignment. We ran 51 plays and only had seven where everybody did their job,â€ he said.
â€œWith no practice to straighten this problem out, itâ€™s a big concern to me playing a very good South Point team and lacking the extra preparation to compete with them,â€ he added.
He also is hoping his offensive linemen can assert themselves enough to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
â€œWeâ€™re going to have to block a little better and try to run the football. Weâ€™re going to have to find some consistency on our offense,â€ Cloninger said.
Jacqueece Reeves, Dusty Friday, Darrell Friday and Lance Friday will continue to get carries with none of the pack separating themselves as the go-to back.
â€œThose four are going to get their carries and Iâ€™m probably going to rotate them a little more Friday night,â€ Cloninger said.
The Red Raiders no longer have do-everything star Joe Brown but they still have a dangerous offense. Despite 10 fumbles versus Kings Mountain, they still scored 44 points. Part of the reason for high total is 6â€™2â€ 190 pound Andrew Rinehart.
â€œThe best thing is you wonâ€™t hear Joe Brown, touchdown anymore because heâ€™s gone. One thing is they will throw the ball a little bit more because Andrew Rinehart has a great arm,â€ Cloninger said.
While the Red Raiders are missing Brown, Cloninger feels that 5â€™10â€ 190 pound fullback Bryan Jennings is more than serviceable.
â€œJennings is hard-nosed and strong. He always seems to always fall forward, heâ€™ll get hit and heâ€™ll keep moving,â€ he said.
Winning a state championship in blowout fashion allows a head coach the luxury of playing reserve players for significant minutes. Last yearâ€™s backup players have now emerged as starters for South Point.
â€œThey have a lot of experience and a lot of talent. A lot of them were backups who didnâ€™t see a lot of playing time, but they still have experience,â€ Cloninger said.
Like other Lincoln Co. coaches, the main area of concern this week is the lack of preparation time due to the inclement weather.
â€œThe weather is a big issue for us right now, not knowing if weâ€™re able to practice any this week. What happened to us last year we had three turnovers early and it just broke our heartsâ€” we canâ€™t do that this year. We have to not turn the ball over early and something good needs to happen early for us to have a good game,â€ he said.
â€œAtleast weâ€™re on equal playing fields,â€ Cloninger added noting that South Point was unable to practice Tuesday as well.