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Demons look to rebound against Midland Valley

Posted: August 31, 2017 2:11 p.m.
Updated: September 1, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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AHMAD BRYANT ... L-E defensive end

Quite possibly the best thing about last week’s loss to River Bluff was that it allowed Lugoff-Elgin to move on from its season-opening win over Camden and get back to the business at hand.

Whether or not the Demons were still basking in the afterglow of their week zero win over their archrivals last Friday is up for debate. What cannot be argued, said L-E head coach Matt Campbell, is that his team received a wake-up call in Lexington and one he hopes was well-received by his team which opens their home season tonight when Midland Valley comes up to the West Wateree.

“We have to move forward. Our kids have to learn how to win and need to learn how to take a win or, a loss, and put it in their back pocket, put it behind you and move on,” Campbell said. “I don’t know that it was so emotional the first week that it carried over into the second week. 

“I don’t know whether it was our guys were kind of feeling themselves or, putting the cart before the horse but every week’s going to be a fight. We’re going to have to go out and battle. If you want to win, you have to be sound in the fundamentals.”

In the 45-20 loss to the Gators, the Demons turned the ball over six times and had two touchdowns called back due to penalties. Given that set of circumstances, much of this week’s focus in practice was on ball security. The first step, Campbell said, was having his players watch video from the game and see the mistakes they made in the film room. From there, the third-year coach hoped the lessons learned would carry over onto the practice field.

Campbell said the fumbles and penalties were part of an equation which also included River Bluff picking off a trio of Demon passes.

“The picks were, obviously, different scenarios,” he said. “For example, the pick that their defensive lineman got; we blocked their guy  off the ball and our lineman kind of let up a little bit so their guy could get separation which gave him the opportunity to go up and get the ball. If we keep driving him, it’s a clear shot and the tight end is sitting there wide open.

“It’s just the little things … you can call them bad breaks or whatever you want but it’s still six turnovers and you’re not going to win with that.”

The turnovers led to the Demons and their run-first offensive philosophy being held in check on the ground with 153 yards rushing. That paled in comparison to the 388  rushing yards which they posted in a 33-28 win over Camden the previous week.

What both the Camden and River Bluff pairings had in common was that the Demons were on the road in both games. Tonight, they get to taste some home cooking for the first time this season against the invading Mustangs.

Campbell said it will be good to finally play inside Lugoff-Elgin Stadium tonight.

“Everybody loves to play at home,” he said. “Hopefully, we have a great crowd and I anticipate that we will.  Our kids are excited. This is our first home game since (the 2016) playoff game. I think there’s a little buzz going around. We just have to go out and do what we do.”

While the Demons come into tonight’s scheduled contest sporting a break-even mark after two games, the Mustangs are smarting after last week’s season-opening 37-0 loss to Greenwood.

Midland Valley is coming off a 2-8 season in which one of those losses came at the hands of L-E which rallied and left Graniteville with a 35-34 victory thanks to a pair of blocked extra points by the visitors, with the second coming in the waning moments of play.

Gone from the Mustangs, who allowed opponents to score better than 45 points per game last season, is all-everything quarterback D.J. Boyd. Stepping in under center is junior Tanner White who will have leading receiver Will Sheehan and starting tailback Tyrese Washington alongside him. Sheehan caught 34 passes for 571 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago.

“They’re still doing the same thing on offense. They have a good quarterback,” Campbell said of MV head coach Andrew Jenkins’ offensive unit. “I don’t know that (White) can run like (Boyd), who was very special. 

“I think they’re a tough group of kids who play hard. When you watch them, you can see that they don’t stop. This is going to be a game where we’re going to have to finish in the fourth quarter.”

Campbell also expects to see an improved Mustang defense which will show the Demons a three-man front with four linebackers. The secondary is headed by cornerback Raekwon Jackson who rang up 67 tackles with three interceptions and a sack in 2016.

“They are very active and they have guys who move around a bunch on defense,” Campbell said. “They have guys that will play at outside linebacker and then, the next thing you know, he’s playing safety. They are moving guys all around on defense.”

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