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Red-hot Knights head to McBee in search of thirs straight victory

Posted: September 13, 2012 3:48 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2012 5:00 a.m.

That season-opening loss to Cardinal Newman seems like a lifetime ago for North Central.
Since that warm, late-August Saturday morning setback, the Knights have combined to outscore their next two opponents --- Whitmire and the Camden Military Academy --- by a combined 97-6 count. Tonight, Louis Clyburn and company look to extend their winning ways to three straight games when they make the short trip to McBee to take on a winless Panthers’ outfit.
This may not be the best of times for the hosts to take on an NC offense which seems to be hitting on all cylinders as the Panthers have had trouble finding their way into the end zone. In last week’s 34-6 loss to Andrew Jackson, McBee was its own worst enemy in turning the ball over to end several scoring threats.
The fact that MHS was able to move the football against the Volunteers a week ago led to concern from Clyburn as he watched the film from that contest.
“I’ll tell you what,” Clyburn said, “my hat is off to McBee for that effort against Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson was very fortunate to have won that game because some unfortunate things happened to McBee, turnover-wise and field position-wise, which allowed that to be a lopsided score.”
What also caught Clyburn’s eye is the fact that the 1A Panthers rebounded from a one-sided 55-7 loss to Chesterfield, one week earlier, and was able to hang tough against the AA Volunteers.
“I thought (MHS) was sharp and executed their game plan well,” Clyburn said. “Their kids played hard. There were just some times when, had the ball bounced the other way last week, you would have had a battled in the fourth quarter of that football game.”
McBee is expected to line up in its wishbone set on offense, a formation which the Panthers operate out of about “90 percent of the time” according to Clyburn. But last year, in a 44-19 loss to NC, McBee broke the bone and came out in the shotgun spread formation. That led to Clyburn and his defensive staff to being on their heels before making in-game adjustments.
“It’s one of those things where you have to prepare for both (offenses),” the NC boss said of the two McBee offenses. “In my gut, I feel like they’re going to jump into that wishbone, try to control the clock and keep our offense off the field.”
Defensively, Clyburn anticipates the Panthers giving the NC offense a 4-2 look and play man coverage in the secondary.
Clyburn said the Panthers have good size along the front lines and good-sized running backs, who will pound the football at his defense.
“They’re not small, by any stretch. They seem to have some good size along the offensive and defensive lines,” said the NC boss. “Their backs are pretty impressive, at times. And their quarterback is a new player for them who seems to get better and better each game. I think their best player is their tight end, who also plays end on defense.”
In the past two weeks, the NC defense has more than risen to the occasion in holding Whitmire to 38 yards in total offense before CMA managed 62 last Friday night in Boonetown. Clyburn said his team’s defense nearly mirrors their offense in which many players have answered the call.
“We’ve had good defensive performances, and not just from one individual player,” Clyburn said. “It’s kind of like our offense, where we have a lot of people touching the ball. Defensively, there’s not just one guy who is shining. It has been a group effort and we have a lot of different guys who, when their number is called, go out and make the tackle.”
Buoyed by their two-game win streak, Clyburn said practices have been crisper in Boonetown. The coaching staff has preached that in order to have a chance to win on Friday night, hard work and attention to detail must be put in during Monday through Thursday practices.
 “We have gotten where we’ve gotten by working hard, fighting, scratching, clawing and busting our butt to get anything we can get. We can’t lose that attitude or lose that mentality,” he said. “We have to have that same attitude going into McBee this week. If we give that up, we’re making ourselves vulnerable.”

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