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L-E hopes turnabout in personnel leads to change in fortune

Posted: October 4, 2012 3:59 p.m.
Updated: October 5, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Now that conference play is here, Lugoff-Elgin head coach Scott Jones has used the week heading into tonight’s Region 4-4A opener at Richland Northeast to give his entire team a facelift.
In practice, players who had been playing on the offensive line were moved to defense and, vice versa. For a team which hopes to turn things around after an 0-6 start to the season, everything old is becoming new again for the Demons.
“We’re re-shuffling the deck,” Jones said. “We’ve moved half our offense to defense and half of our defense over to the offense.
“It’s been a great week of practice for us. Our kids are really trying hard.”
The role reversal filtered down to the L-E coaching staff which underwent a change in practice routine given the changes in personnel and where those players will line up tonight and, beyond.
Jones is hoping the switches give players a new lease on life, so to speak, which he hopes will get them excited about being asked to take on a new challenge.
The side of the football which Jones and his staff are looking for the biggest uptick is on defense. Too often in the non-region portion of the schedule, opposing offenses have been able to ring up some hefty numbers on the Demons. Jones is hoping a change in scenery might kick-start his defense.
“If we can stop somebody,” he said, “we stand a chance. But that has not been the case, so far.”
The offense also underwent a facelift in terms of who will be trusted with protecting junior quarterback Shon Belton, who is coming off a 177-yard rushing game against Lexington in which he ran for a pair of touchdowns. Jones said guarding his team’s most valuable offensive asset played a key role in changing up the lines.
“Shon was going to take a pounding back there if we continued to do what we were doing. This was the best thing that we could do, as far as helping our offense is concerned,” said the L-E head coach.
“We are trying to shore up our protection for Shon and we will go max protection (leaving a tight end and a running back home to block.) Shon has been running for his life back there when he goes back to pass with what we were doing. We have to develop some sort of a passing game or else, we are going to get pounded every week.”
The offensive transformation, Jones said, will include screen passes and quick-hitters designed to slow down a Cavalier defense which allowed just 51 yards passing in last week’s 23-12 win over Orangeburg-Wilkinson.
Jones said his new-look offensive line will be put to the test against the Cavs’ aggressive 3-4 alignment.
“They are going to blitz on every play,” Jones said.
“Our big thing on offense is going to be that we have to try and take advantage of their blitzes by throwing screen passes and short pass routes to where Shon can get the ball off as quickly as he can.”
Offensively, virtually everything RNE does will run through quarterback A.C. Whaley. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound signal-caller is bigger than nearly all of the L-E defenders. A week ago, he threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 37 yards on the ground on eight carries.
Whaley also has senior classmates Craishaud Folks and Denzel Washington alongside him at wide out and tailback, respectively. Folks is RNE’s chief receiving threat while Washington can also be used as a receiver, in addition to running the football.
But make no mistake about it, everything which RNE will do in its spread set offense, with its multiple schemes and formations centers around Whaley.
“They have great skill people on offense and a quarterback who can run with the ball as well as throw it,” Jones said.
Jones said keeping Whaley in check will go a long way toward determining how successful the Demons will be tonight on their short trip up Highway 1.
“Their quarterback is going to be tough to bottle up,” Jones said. “We have to try to establish a pass rush and, maybe even spy him. We are going to try and do some different things on defense this week.”
Jones said Whaley has the ability to make good things happen if he is flushed out of the pocket and need to make plays with his legs, as well as his arms. With that in mind, Jones said plenty of time was devoted in practice to tackling and bringing people to the ground.
“It’s all about tackling in space; we’ve worked hard on that in practice this week,” Jones said. “We need to get people to the football because we’ve been giving up too many big plays, already, this year. If we don’t get people to the football, we don’t stand a chance. We need to go out there and not give up the big play. We have to make people earn what they get against us.”

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