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Spartans look to get offense in gear

Posted: October 10, 2013 2:14 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Sure, the temperature dropped a few degrees earlier in the week. But for Will Rice, he was already talking about snow.
Rice, the Camden Military Academy head football coach, was not talking about the weather, though. What he was referring to was a phrase which deals with things --- either, good or bad --- getting on a roll.
When it comes to the CMA football team, in its first three games of the season, the Spartans have played with the lead for a scant few minutes. That came on an interception for a touchdown in the opening minutes of a week two loss against East Clarendon.
The Spartans will try to rectify that problem on Saturday when the Carolina Wildcats come to Spartan Field for a 2:30 p.m. contest. Rice said he would like nothing better than to see his team get the early momentum and then, sustain it for 48 minutes.
“That would be huge,” Rice said when asked about getting out of the box quickly come Saturday.
“Success breeds confidence so hopefully, we’ll be able to get off to a good start, make some first downs and get on the scoreboard. You always talk about things snowballing in a negative direction, but they can also snowball in the positive direction for you, too. You get going, have success and you keep feeding off that success.”
The fact that the Spartans are even playing today is due to Rice having made a few frantic calls in looking for a last-minute game. It was last Monday that Rice received word that CMA’s original opponent, the Raleigh Titans, closed up shop and was no longer fielding a team.
Rice found a match when he called Mark Knight, who was the head coach at the now-closed Prince Avenue Prep in Pickens. Knight’s current team, the Carolina Wildcats, were also scheduled to play the Titans and had an opening on their slate when the Carolina Hurricanes shut down their operation.
Knight, whose team had been playing eight-man football up until a few days ago, decided to play the Spartans with 11 players on each side of the ball. In six eight-man contests, thus far, the Wildcats have not lost a game.
Rice does not have much to go on in terms of scouting this week’s opponent other than old films of previous games with Prince Avenue Prep.
 “We know who he is and that he’s always had a good team,” Rice said of Knight. “We’ve had some wars here in the past going against his guys at Prince Avenue Prep. I’m sure it will be a tough, physical football game on Saturday.”
If Knight has stayed with his former schemes, CMA’s offense will go up against a four-man front and see man-to-man coverage in the secondary. Spartan quarterback Max Bryant will probably also see constant pressure since Prince Avenue Prep was a team which loved to blitz early and often.
As for the Wildcats’ offense, Rice said, his defensive unit will see about everything in the book.
“On defense,” he said, “we’ll see trips, doubles (two wide receivers) on each side and two-back sets. We’ll see a little bit of everything.”
On a positive note, the Spartans regain the services of Brandon Crandall, who sustained an injured right elbow in the first half of the season opener against North Central. The Seattle-area resident has been cleared to play on offense only and will line up in the backfield. The two-way starter, who also plays linebacker, has not been cleared to play on that side of the ball, yet.
 “It’s definitely going to help with our backfield situation,” Rice said of Crandall’s return at halfback. “It’s another fresh set of legs.
“We still have some bumps and bruises but, for the most part, I think we should be ready to go by Saturday.”
As for Crandall and fullback Ian Benton, that pair will be asked to bring a surge of energy into a Spartan offense which sputtered in last week’s 34-6 loss to the Q Foundation. In that game, CMA scored on a punt return for a touchdown.
 “We have to be able to run the ball,” Rice said. “On offense, in general, we have to step it up. We have to be able to both run and throw the ball. We need to be balanced. We’d like to be about 60-40 (percent), run to pass.”

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