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Demons ready to embark on a win streak

Posted: October 17, 2013 2:23 p.m.
Updated: October 18, 2013 5:00 a.m.

ALEX SMITH ... L-E linebacker

It was as if the rain cloud which had followed the Lugoff-Elgin football program for more than two years gave way to sunny days and a brighter disposition.
A 31-10 win over Richland Northeast, to end a 23-game skid, tends do that to a team.
Now, the Demons are ready to begin on another streak. This involves stringing back-to-back victories together, something which is next on the list for Scott Jones’s squad when they head to Blythewood Stadium to meet Ridge View in a Region 4-4A pairing.
L-E kicked off conference play with its win last Friday night while the host Blazers dropped a 16-14 decision to Irmo, giving Raymond Jennings’s troops their fourth loss in as many weeks.
After going through what his team has endured, you won’t see Jones shedding any tears for the Blazers. While punch and cookies were not served at L-E’s practices this week, Jones admitted that there were a few more smiles on the faces of both players and coaches.
“Give our kids a lot of credit,” Jones said. “I was talking to (former North Central head coach and current KC School Board member) Ron Blackmon the other day and he said there was a lot of character there, on our kids’ part. When you’re going through a season like we’re going through and you bounce back and win in the fashion that we did the other night, it says a lot about our kids’ character.
“This is a fun bunch of kids. And being 1-0 in the region looks better and things taste better. Our hope is to continue, take things one game at a time and maybe, compete for a region title.”
Struggling in the non-conference season and heating up in region play is not something new for the Demons who followed that script in winning the Region 6-4A crown in 2010. This time around, the L-E offense seems to have hit its stride over the past several weeks. After having to mix and match skill players with a position, that unit has started clicking with Shon Belton having stayed at quarterback with sophomore Aldreacio Wells being inserted at tailback while Emmonti Payne was moved from linebacker to running back.
“Emmonti just wasn’t suited for defense,” Jones said of Payne.”We were trying to make him into something that he wasn’t.”
Payne has since flourished in his new role on offense. And with that, things are going smoothly in what must considered a case of familiarity breeding success in the West Wateree region.
“The big thing offensively for us,” Jones said, “is that we finally found the right combination and, we’re living with it.
“We had to do something. We had some injuries which required us to make some changes. And we shuffled some people from defense to the offensive side of the ball.”
While Payne was moved to take advantage of his skill set on offense, the Demon coaching staff never gave up on a young secondary and let that group is learning by doing. Jones beamed when talking about the positive steps being taken by members of his defensive backfield.
“Our secondary is so young that at most halftimes, we have to burp them and change their diapers because they’re so young,” Jones said. “But they’re growing up. Now, we’ve given them some pacifiers and they’re getting better. They’re teething along.
“We were hoping that it would happen earlier with that group, but they’re getting better back there. If they continue to get better then, we’ll have a chance to compete.”
The same thing can be said regarding an entire Demon squad which lists just 14 seniors and plays a majority of underclassmen in key roles. Their development and the repetitions they received on the practice field and on Friday night led to Jones and his staff scaling down practice sessions.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re feeling confident with what we’re doing offensively and defensively,” Jones said. “What we’re trying to do now is keep working on fundamentals and on our assignments.”
As for the Blazers, they have not tasted victory since knocking off Fort Mill, a team which defeated L-E in the season opener, in week three. As is sometimes the case for an offense looking to snap out of the doldrums, Ridge View is in a transition phase on that side of the football.
Jennings and company have tried throwing different schemes and formations at the wall to see what will and what won’t stick. That has led to the L-E defense preparing for almost anything and everything.
“They do about everything there is to do, other than the wishbone and, we’re kind of preparing for that this week,” Jones said of the Blazers’ offense.
“It’s very hard for us to get lined up with their multiple sets. They have tremendous speed and speed kills; we all know that. We’re trying to get our guys into the right position to make plays and to slow them down.
“We haven’t been able to get a good read on tendencies this week because they do a really good job of keeping you off guard by throwing on first down, running on third downs and things like that. You can’t look at them and say, ‘This is a passing down’ or things like that because they mix it up pretty well.”


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