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Demons live, learn from loss

Posted: September 21, 2017 11:59 a.m.
Updated: September 22, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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RAHMIK MCDONALD ... L-E defensive back

Coming off a 42-0 loss to South Aiken, you would have thought Lugoff-Elgin head coach Matt Campbell might use the CD disks from the game as drink coasters rather show his players what went wrong last Friday night at L-E Stadium.

That would be the lazy man’s way of doing things. 

Rather, Campbell, his staff and players probably spent more time going over that video and trying to learn from their mistakes than they did in any of their first three wins of the season.

“I watch it very intently because I want to know exactly what the breakdowns are,” said the third-year Demon boss. “We had some kids come and who spent extra time watching it. It shows a sense of urgency from them.

“It’s always nice to win but you have to be critical of yourself in all situations.”

The Demons, who entertain Lancaster in tonight’s non-conference finale, managed just 59 yards in offense against the Thoroughbreds while the L-E defense allowed the visitors to put up more than 400 yards in offense. 

While, sometimes, the game film will cast things in a different light than the final outcome, Campbell was not in the mood to hear about moral victories and having won a play here and there.

“It was 42-0,” he said. “When you look at the film, I thought that our defense came out and played the first one or two drives fairly well. I thought our kids played hard, I just don’t think we were very assignment-sound. I thought we fell short in the fundamentals; I don’t think we blocked very well and, on defense, I don’t think that we tackled very well.

“I don’t think it was an effort issue; our kids played hard but if you get out of position, whether on a block or on defense, you’re going to get taken advantage of.”

That being said, the Demons gathered on Sunday, watched the game video, saw their mistakes and by Monday’s practice, the South Aiken game was history.

“You have to move on. You have to have a short memory,” Campbell said. “I tell our guys all the time that you’re going to have a bad play but you can’t dwell on it. You have to move forward. We, as coaches, have to do the same.”

Last week’s loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Demons. Tonight the Bruins come to the West Wateree with a streak of their own. 

Since opening the season with a 21-7 win over AAA Indian Land, Bobby Collins’ troops have lost three straight, the most recent of those being a 14-7 defeat suffered at the hands of Nation Ford, which won its first game of the season.

The visitors boast one of the largest offensive lines in the Rock Hill region but have been unable to take advantage of the mismatches in the trenches. Lancaster lost running backs Ant Foster and Farrika Grier to graduation and has struggled to find anyone to replace either of those large backs.

In 5-foot-11 junior quarterback Kamerkio Cloud, the Bruins have a gifted athlete behind center who has been unable to get the passing game in gear as LHS averages less than 90 yards per game passing. That puts more pressure on junior tailback Asont’a Clark (5-9, 230) to become a force for a unit which averages a tad less than 18 points a game.

The Demons are hardly the Lollipop Guild when it comes to the offensive line with a front five which averages better than 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds along the interior. For that reason, Campbell expects this pairing to be a test of wills.

“It’s going to be a big, physical game,” he said. “They have a big offensive line and I don’t know how much (Cloud) weighs but he’s built like a linebacker. He’s an athletic kid who runs very well and their backs are good.

“Do they have those kind of backs like they had last year? They had two great backs last year but I think there are some other positions that compensate for that.”

The Bruins have allowed opponents to score at a 25.5-point per game clip. Again, Campbell is impressed with the guests on that side of the football.

“Their kids play hard on the defensive line and they have some linebackers who fly around and they’re skilled in the secondary,” he said.

Campbell said the biggest challenge facing the Demons is to make sure the South Aiken debacle has been locked up and the key thrown away. He does not want the Thoroughbreds to beat the Demons twice. “We’re going to worry about Lancaster but we’re going to worry about L-E first,” he said of the mindset of his players.

Tonight’s pairing is also important in that it is the last tune-up for the Region 6-4A campaign which opens next Friday when Lakewood comes to town. Campbell said his troops can ill-afford to come stumbling into the league opener.

“Confidence is a huge thing and the only way you get confidence is by executing in the game,” he said. “It is an important thing for us.”

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