View Mobile Site

NC faces stern test in surging Panthers

Posted: October 10, 2013 2:32 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2013 5:00 a.m.

TREY HARDIN ... NC lineman

Glancing through the six-game North Central offensive statistics, one sees the Knights have busted one play for more than 40 yards. That was a 63-yard William Jenkins carry. There is no other back with a long gain of more than 13 yards.
In the air game, NC receivers have caught passes caught for 38, 32 and 31 yards.
So, when head coach Louis Clyburn gathered his troops on Monday to begin preparation for tonight’s homecoming contest with visiting Pelion, the Knights’ boss stressed many things. But chief among the list of priorities is making a couple game-changing plays.
“Our offense has to figure out a way to make big plays,” he said matter-of-factly.
“We started that challenge after last week and breaking just one run is not going to do it. It starts with me, because I call the plays. And, it doesn’t have to be some magical play that goes for a big gain.It can be a hitch play, a dive play ... nothing fancy.
“We have to be consistent, like we have been. At the same time, though, we haven’t gotten the ball in the end zone enough. We just have to make some big plays.”
Last Friday, NC was shut out in the second half of a 40-12 loss to Keenan in the Region 3-AA opener. The Raider defense was designed to stop Jenkins and the Knights’ ground attack and try to make the guests beat them with the pass. NC managed just 59 passing yards in the contest with 24 of those coming on a Hunter Wyant-to-Jenkins hook-up.
Through the first six games of the season, the Knights are averaging 80 yards in passing per game. While more emphasis has been placed on the rushing attack than in any of his five seasons at the helm in Boonetown, Clyburn said his team can ill afford to be left one-dimensional.
“We have to be better at throwing the football,” Clyburn said. “We had some drops last week and we did some uncharacteristic things on offense. One of the things we did not do last year was drop a lot of footballs. Heck, our receivers up to this point hadn’t had a whole lot of drops. Then, last Friday night, we had the drops for a little while.”
While the Knights have gone to a more ground-oriented attack on offense, the visiting Panthers underwent a change on that side of the ball, as well. Following a 4-7 campaign in 2012, veteran PHS head coach Ben Freeman switched to an option set, a la Georgia Tech. And like those successful Yellow Jacket teams, Pelion also has a big-play wide receiver in junior Freddie Phillips.
Phillips has already been offered by North Carolina with North Carolina State also expected to pull the trigger before too long.
After an 0-2 start to the season, Pelion has won three of its last four games and have gone from averaging six points in games one and two to 39 in its previous four encounters.
“You could tell by watching them early in the season that they struggled with it,” Clyburn said of Pelion’s new scheme. “But they’re starting to pick up the pace, they’re hitting on all cylinders and they’re starting to score some points.”
The scary part of those numbers is that Phillips has not been fully incorporated into the offense. Things could get even worse for opposing defenses after he becomes a more vital cog in the set.
“He is always a threat, but sometimes they struggle in getting the ball to him. He certainly is a big target, but in this offense, their success is due to a rhythmic running game,” Clyburn said.
“It will be interesting as their season progresses if they feel like that they have to get him some touches and how they figure out ways to get him the ball, whether it’s on a reverse or a play-action pass.
“When you watch them on film, you say, ‘That kid is really good.” But you don’t watch the film and say, ‘Here’s how they’re going to get him the ball. We have to stop this one particular play.’
“They do a good job of camouflaging the different ways they get him the ball. It will certainly be a challenge to prevent him from being the difference in the ballgame.”
While Phillips, who had the game-breaking catch and touchdown in Pelion’s 28-22 win over the Knights last year, is a cause of concern for the Knights, Clyburn said this week has been spent trying to correct mistakes which his team made a week ago, both as players and coaches.
“Our biggest challenge,” Clyburn said, “is improving what we’re doing as a football team and how we can improve on what we did last week and how we can improve as coaches and coaching better. We have to choose to come out every day for practice and decided that we’re going to get better.
“These guys have a lot invested into this football season. Last week, we didn’t make the right choices; we didn’t make the right choices at practice and some of us didn’t make the right choices off the field and, it affected the team. We didn’t practice well last week before the Keenan game.”
Clyburn said his team has made a concerted effort to not make the same mistakes this week as those which costs them dearly last week.
 “It’s all about how we prepare and how we do it,” he said. “It starts with me; we didn’t prepare well enough last week to go win on Friday night and, that’s my fault. That’s what we’re trying to change for this Friday night.
“The difference in the ballgame, as to whether we win or not, will be the choices we make this week as to how we attack this football team and, how we attack this Friday night.”



Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2018 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...