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Demons ready to put skid in their rear-view mirror tonight

Posted: October 1, 2010 4:23 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2010 4:23 p.m.

Now is not the time for hysterics or pulling out the “win one for the Gipper” speech.

With his team mired in a three-game skid, Lugoff-Elgin head football coach Scott Jones took a totally different approach in practice for tonight’s home game with Lexington.

Jones and his staff stressed the positives in that this season is far from over and that, a more fortuitous bounce of the football here and there and the Demons might be in the midst of an entire different scenario as they prepare for their final non-region game of the year.

“We’re in an encouragement mode, right now,” Jones said. “When you lose ballgames, it’s easy to jump up and down, point fingers and scream and holler, but there is none of that going on. We’ve had some bad breaks and we’ve had some injuries. There’s no need for (berating players.) We need to be teaching and getting better.

“These guys have done an outstanding job … our seniors in particular. I want to commend them for their leadership through all this. We’ve just had some unfortunate things happen to us. We have our region games coming up (next week) and we’re trying to set our goals to be competitive, get better and, hopefully, win some ballgames.”

In what seems to be a weekly occurrence, L-E lost another player to injury in last week’s 27-3 loss to White Knoll. Junior tight end Justin Gilstrap was the latest in an all-too-long line of disabled Demons. All Jones can do is shake his head in wondering what he must have done to deserve this.

“I’ve never been through anything like this. Our training room looks like a hospital and our trainers are doing a good job,” he said.

“From week to week, we’ve had multiple injuries. Each week, we’ve had one or two different players who have not played in a game and it changes your game plan. The unfortunate thing is that we’re having to play some guys on both sides of the ball who we normally wouldn’t do that with. The fatigue factor starts setting in when it gets to the fourth quarter.”

The injury epidemic has forced Jones and company to play a game of musical chairs with some of their younger players, who are being thrown into the fire and playing new positions with little training. Jones commended his players and staff for working “on the fly,” so to speak.

“We’re just getting some young guys ready and trying to put them in spots. That’s a hard thing to do,” he admitted. “We’re asking some people to do things, physically, that they are not able to do.”

As if the physical ailments are not enough, the L-E defense, seemingly, has had to face a new flavor of the week in terms of the opposing offense. In week one, it was Fort Mill’s “pistol set.” The next week, it was Spring Valley’s flexbone followed by Dutch Fork and its myriad of sets, Camden’s spread and White Knoll’s non-traditional balanced and unbalanced schemes of out of the Wing-T.

Jones laughed when asked about the challenges his defensive unit has faced in the first five weeks of the season.

“Things were easy back in the old days when everybody lined up in the I or the wishbone and came right at you. Offenses are so multiple now,” he said with a smile. “It seems like every week, we have to prepare for a different type of offensive attack. We have not seen the same thing, yet. It’s been very difficult for our defense to prepare for the offenses we’re seeing.”

That run will end this week with a Lexington spread offense which is similar to that run by Camden. There is one difference with the Wildcats, however, he is all-everything performer Shaq Roland. The 6-foot-2 junior will line up as receiver, running back and takes snaps from center in the “Wildcat” package. In addition, he also returns punts and kicks.
Through five games, Roland has scored 17 touchdowns. But he is hardly the lone LHS threat in an offense directed by freshman quarterback Will Hunter.

“People concentrate on (Roland) so much, but they have other weapons they can go to,” Jones said. “They have a great running back and two other very good receivers. You can’t just cover him. It would be nice to put three or four guys on him, but you can’t do that. You have to play sound defense against them.

“You can see, on film, where people get very conscious of where he is on the field and, the next thing you know, they hit another target. They have multiple weapons.”

Jones said that his offense, if at full-strength could cause plenty of problems for Lexington. But with his options more limited than what they were at the start of the season, Jones said he hopes to keep the Wildcat defense on the field as long as possible.

“Our best hope is to try and control the football and give them some different looks and show them some things they’re not prepared for … maybe, try to trick them, a little bit,” he said. “Our best chance is to keep the ball out of their offense’s hands.”

Despite injuries and the three-game skid, Jones stayed with the encouragement tone and is hardly giving up on his team.
“I think it’s going to be a good ballgame,” he said. “I feel that we’ll be very competitive with them and, obviously, we’re going in there to try and win the football game.”

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