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CMA hoping to slow down resurgent Knights’ offense

Posted: September 6, 2012 11:30 a.m.
Updated: September 7, 2012 5:00 a.m.

DARIUS BROWN ... NC DB/return threat

If you were to draw lines between all the intersecting parts of the coaching staffs at North Central and the Camden Military Academy football teams, it might look like something out of the Matrix.
There are three CMA coaches who, while assistants under Billy Ammons at Camden High School earlier in their respective careers, coached four members of the Knights’ staff. And at least two members of the Spartans’ staff emulated and were in the stands watching the NC coaches when they played for the Bulldogs.
Tonight at Knights Stadium in Boonetown, it will be as much old friends and colleagues night as much as it will be the first meeting on the football field between the neighboring schools.
“In this game,” said NC head coach Louis Clyburn, “a lot of the dots connect. You never want to lose to your buddies, even in marbles. And, if there is anything extra that we can do or, that they can do to get a victory in this game, we will certainly do it.
“The tough part about all this is that none of us old guys can get into our uniforms and go against each other. But it certainly should be fun.”
Clyburn, along with three of his assistant coaches and former Camden High teammates --- Robbie Cash, Eddie Deese and Chris Martin --- all played under CMA assistant coaches Jeff Jordan, Speedy Johnson, Spartans’ middle school head coach Dennis Reeder and first-year Knights’ assistant coach Guy Eckenroth during their Bulldog careers. And, Eckenroth coached CMA assistant coaches Griff Beckham and Danny Robinson when they played at CHS.
“I told our players that the majority of our staff --- Chris Martin, Eddie Deese, Robbie Cash and I ---all played for Coach Eckenroth, Coach Johnson, Coach Jordan and Coach Reeder,” Clyburn said. “Then you have the younger crowd with Danny (Robinson) and Griff (Beckham).
“It should be fun, but it should be very intense. I would imagine that you are going to see some coaches out there who are really pushing their players. What it boils down to is what each of get our team to do on the field.”
Rain washed out the chance for Rice and members of his staff to take in NC’s opener with Cardinal Newman. That left CMA with only game film of the Knights’ 48-0 thrashing of Whitmire.
After viewing that tape, you can count Rice impressed with what he saw from tonight’s hosts.
“They look extremely good on film,” said the CMA boss of the  Knights’ offense. “They are big up front, they have good skill people with a lot of speed and they have a good quarterback with a big arm. They are just a good football team. It is going to be a challenge for us, there’s no doubt about that.”
Against the Wolverines last week, NC piled up 495 yards in offense with Grayson King throwing for 246 of those while converted backup quarterback Tristan McCathern was moved to tailback and rushed for 136 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns in the romp. Clyburn said that his team’s best defense is making sure the NC offense stays on the field for long stretches and puts points on the board while wearing down the Spartan defenders in the process.
Rice said NC has so many offensive weapons that his defense must be able to defend the entire field.
“We have so many areas of concern on defense,” he said. “They are very balanced on offense. Louis does a really good job of mixing up his formations. We are going to have our work cut out for us on defense.”
Clyburn had the chance to take in CMA’s season-opening 14-0 loss to New Covenant Christian School last Saturday. That game was scoreless at halftime before NCCS punched in two third quarter scores against a weary Spartan defense.
“They’re very aggressive defensively and they tackle pretty well,” Clyburn said of the CMA defense. “Like us, they’re fast and they’re tough in spots. New Covenant was a very athletic team and it caused (CMA) some problems. But I’d imagine that by Friday night, they’ll have those problems ironed out. What we have to try to do is to execute our game plan and be solid in all three phases of the game.
“Camden Military has a good ballclub. They are getting things together after starting a little later than we did. They played a very athletic team last week and it didn’t come out like they wanted it to, but Camden Military Academy is a tough, hard-nosed team; exactly what you would expect. I told our players that we have to be ready for a battle. It will be a four-quarter battle.”
Clyburn said his defense needs to protect the perimeter as the guests feature speedy tailback Anj Gadji who has the ability to turn nothing into a long-gainer. Rice said his team needs to be able to move the ball in the air with quarterback Rickey Thornley as the Spartans try to keep defenders from stacking the line against the ground game.
“They are big up front and they find their way to the football,” Rice said of the NC defense. “They are very aggressive on defense and watching them on film, nobody has beaten them deep. We need to be able to run our sets and we need to try to win the battle along the line of scrimmage.”
A week ago, the momentum went in the Knights’ favor when Darius Brown returned a punt for a 65-yard touchdown. Clyburn said that was a big play in that game and said special teams could play a role in deciding tonight’s contest.
“We need to win special teams. That will be the key in a game like this,” he said. “We need to win the kicking game in terms of return yardage and if there is a big play that it’s us making it on special teams. If we can do that, along with eliminating mistakes on offense and defense, it will help us to have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”


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