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Spartans looking to collect second victory in five days

Saturday game will be CMA’s third in eight

Posted: October 29, 2015 1:34 p.m.
Updated: October 30, 2015 1:00 a.m.

It may be football season but it sure feels like a basketball schedule at Camden Military Academy.

The Spartans will play their third game in eight days when the Carolina Gladiators invade Spartan Field in East Camden for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game.

The unusual string of events started last Friday when CMA traveled to McBee in a regularly scheduled game and came out on the short end of a 59-19 score against the top-ranked class A team in the state. On Tuesday afternoon, the Spartans sloshed their way to a 28-6 victory over the visiting Carolina Wildcats in a game which was a make-up from their originally scheduled contest on Oct. 3.

The slate leaves little time to get over any bumps and bruises, never mind cutting into practice time.

“Well, that’s two down in this three-game stretch with one more to go on Saturday,” said a rain-soaked Spartan head coach Will Rice following the Tuesday matinee victory. “We have to get iced and we have to get rested up to make sure that we’re ready for Saturday.”

In last Friday’s loss to McBee, the Spartans used the big play to score their three touchdowns while limiting the damage done by a Panther offense which twice this season scored 84 points in a game. The hosts led, 41-7 at the half with the lone CMA touchdown coming on a 75-yard Ryheem Watson scoring run.

CMA held its ground in the second half, getting another 75-yard scoring jaunt, this courtesy of tailback Blake Roberts before quarterback Reggie Currie found Romani Susewell with a 35-yard touchdown pass.

Rice said his defensive unit was well-prepared for McBee’s quick-strike wishbone attack but was unable to get a defender to the corner on several occasions which allowed the Panthers to start charging up the scoreboard.

“We were able to hit some big plays and we were able to stop them,” Rice said. “They like to run that toss sweep and get to the sideline and go; if they get to the sideline, they’re gone. What we were able to do is to make them cut up and not get to the sideline. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the linebacker there in time to make the tackle.”

The loss dropped the Spartans to 2-3 on the season but Rice said his team did not lie down for the state’s top-ranked class A program. That, he said, is what he took from the contest.

“I learned that we’re not going to back down from anybody,” he said. “We might get beat but we’re not going to back down. We battled the whole game but McBee is just a very good football team.”

Four days later, on a rainy Tuesday afternoon, the Spartans opened the game by fumbling the football at their own two with the Wildcats recovering the loose ball and scoring on the next play to grab a quick 6-0 lead.

The hosts responded by driving the football with Roberts going the final 17 yards on a scoring dash to even things at 6-6.

On the ensuing Wildcat series, Dawson picked up a loose ball at his own 20 and sprinted 80 yards into the end zone for the score. Roberts ran in the two-point conversion as the Spartans went on top for keeps at 14-6.

Rice said Dawson’s scoop and score changed the entire complexion of the game.

“That was the turning point in this game,” Rice said. “They were driving the ball on us and we were having trouble stopping them on defense.”

CMA tacked on another scored before the break when Roberts, who went for better than 100 yards on the ground on the day, broke loose on a 37-yard scoring run to send the Spartans into intermission holding to a 20-6 lead.

 “We made some adjustments at halftime and we were able to shut their rushing game down,” Rice said.

In the third quarter, with the pelting rain forcing both sides to all but abandon the passing game, the Spartans received a three-yard quarterback keeper from Currie for a touchdown which was followed by Roberts going over with the two-point run.

CMA penetrated inside the Wildcats’ five in the waning seconds only to take a knee rather than add onto its point total.

Rice said playing twice in four days took some of the zest from his players in the early going on Tuesday.

“I think that we may have been a little less than at full-speed at the start of the game since we just played on Friday,” he said. “We didn’t play well at first but I thought we got into the game and played better as the game went on.”

The compact three-game stretch is taxing an already thin CMA bench as Rice and his staff try to get as many players into the game while allowing the starters, many of whom play on both sides of the ball, a chance to sit out a few plays and get a breather on the sidelines.

We played a lot of guys against McBee who had not played in a high school game before,” Rice said. “We’re playing a lot of people. We don’t have a lot of numbers anyway so people are having to play both ways and some people are going to have to get more reps so we can get guys healthy and get some rest for our guys.”

In Tuesday’s win, the Spartans scored 21 unanswered points to put the visitors from Pickens away in a game which, for the most part, was played on a slick field and in a constant rain. “We made some adjustments at halftime and we were able to shut the rushing game down,” Rice said.

 In getting ready for the Wildcats, the CMA coaching staff was forced to go back to the game plan which they devised for this contest in late September.

“We had a game plan before it got rained out so we had to come back and visit it,” Rice said. “It was hard because we were trying to get ready for the number one team in the state in McBee last Friday, then we had to turn around in a few days and get this game plan in. And we only had one day of practice so it was rough.”

As soon as the final horn sounded on Tuesday, Rice and his staff had little time to celebrate with another game looming on Saturday.

Rice said it the revised slate will drastically alter his team’s practice plan for this Saturday’s contest.

 “It’s going to be difficult,” he said. “On Wednesday, we’ll come in and stretch, do some light jogging then go watch film. 

“It’s going to be very light this week; we’re not going to hit this week. It will be a different routine but sometimes changing up the routine will have some good affects.”

Saturday will mark the Spartans’ home season finale against the visiting Gladiators, an independent high school-aged squad from Asheville, N.C.

The game will be the finale for the Gladiators who are looking for their first victory after having opened the season with nine consecutive losses. Reid Bennett’s charges have struggled on both sides of the football as they have allowed 447 points (49.7 point per game) while having scored three touchdowns --- one each in three games --- this season.

 “They run the Wing T,” Rice said of the Gladiator offensive scheme. “We have to try and stop the running game that we had trouble stopping in the first half (Tuesday.) We had some trouble there. And they have a real good running back who we have to be concerned with and need to stop.”


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