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Banged-up Spartans hoping to add to East Clarendon’s woes

Posted: September 17, 2015 10:32 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

While being tended to on the sideline for cramping in his leg in last Friday afternoon’s win over the Sandhills Titans, CMA defensive back Noah Woody received some extra attention from a fan’s dog.

These are the times which give already nervous high school football coaches even more cause for concern.

While there is never a good time to be down minus some of your key players, it is even harder to swallow when you have a seemingly winnable game staring you in the face.

As Camden Military Academy head coach Will Rice stood outside and looked out over the practice field on Tuesday, he watched as starting linebacker and part-time running back Ryheem Watson limped toward the locker room with his left hamstring wrapped up in an Ace bandage. Starting tailback Derek Roberts, who rushed for a team-best 87 yards in last week’s 26-10 win over the Sandhills Titans was nowhere to be seen as he is nursing an ankle injury suffered in that contest a week ago.

With both players probably rendered to wearing street clothes tonight, Rice was already making personnel changes in his head as the Spartans prepared for tonight’s game at winless East Clarendon.

Shortly after the Spartans opened their season with a 16-point win over the Titans, East Clarendon went down for the third time in as many outings as the Wolverines were manhandled by a powerful McBee squad, 67-0.

In three games, EC has been outscored by a combined 111-14 count with all 14 of those points coming in a 16-14 loss to Green Sea Floyds in Week Zero. But the problems besetting first-year East Clarendon head coach Scott Cook’s team were not the major concern for Rice on this day.

‘We’re beat up pretty bad,” Rice said. “We’re really beat up, right now.”

Before the Spartans (1-0) opened Tuesday’s practice, Rice told his squad that Friday’s contest would be an all hands on deck affair in which some backups would be asked to play leading roles against the Wolverines.

“We have to adjust,” Rice said of his rotation of players. “Some guys who didn’t play that much last Friday are going to have to step up, get the job done and pick up the slack for us this week.”

After having had its originally scheduled opener cancelled when Grace Crossing did not have enough available players to field a team, the Spartans finally got to play a game last Friday afternoon. Rice said just having that one game under his team’s collective belt will be helpful when they take on the class A program this evening.

“It’s good to get the game experience and it’s good to get the win,” he said.  “It was also good for the coaches to see what we did wrong so that we can work on those things.”

CMA rushed for 199 yards in its victory while the Titans scored on a field goal after recovering a botched center-to-quarterback exchange on the first snap of the afternoon at the Spartans five. That led to a field goal and a 3-0 lead. The guests tacked on the final score of the day when another lost fumble led to a Titans’ touchdown in the waning seconds of play against the hosts’ second team defensive unit.

“Defensively,” Rice said of his team’s play last week, “on that side of the ball, we seemed to get to the ball, pursued pretty well and tackled pretty well for it being our first game.

“We need to get lined up better offensively and defensively. I think fatigue might have gotten us in the second half because we weren’t as crisp lining up as we were in the first half and we didn’t execute as well as we could have in the second half, and part of that is our conditioning but that will come.”

While Sandhills lined up in a conventional offensive scheme, tonight the CMA defense will go up against a Wolverine wishbone attack which will try and pound the ball at the guests, lull them to sleep and then, try to catch the Spartan defense napping with a play-action pass.

The key for the CMA defense is to trust their reads and play solid technique football against the run-first scheme.

“We have to play physical football this week,” Rice said. “We have to be able to tackle because they are a power football team. They’re physical so we have to be physical and be able to make tackles.”

While the Spartan defense must try and get the Wolverines to punt and get their offense off the field, it will also be important for the guests to sustain offensive drives and cash in on them while holding into the football.

Should Roberts not be a go for tonight, much of the offensive burden will fall on the shoulders of quarterback Reggie Curry. The transfer from New Jersey ran for 57 yards and three touchdowns on nine carries last week. But the Spartans did not complete a pass in that game. Should CMA be short-handed in the backfield, it could lead to EC stacking the box in trying to slow Curry down while forcing the guests to throw the football.

Either way, Rice said his offense needs to be productive whether it is over land or, in the passing lanes.

“It is going to be important that we keep their offense off the field and that we have long, sustained drives on offense and get points out of it,” Rice said. 



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