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L-E looks to end its skid and CF's streak

Posted: October 8, 2010 8:46 a.m.
Updated: October 8, 2010 8:41 a.m.

It has not been a pleasant month for the Lugoff-Elgin football team. But, at the same time, it has not been as harsh in practice as some might think.

It has been 34 days since the Demons tasted victory in a win over Spring Valley to even their record at 1-1. Five losses later, Scott Jones and company are hungrier than ever to break out of their slump. And, what better night on which to do it than in the Region 6-4A opener, which just so happens to coincide with homecoming at L-E.

Upon first glance, one might think the powers-that-be at L-E picked the wrong opponent for homecoming in Carolina Forest, which carries a 5-1 record into tonight’s contest. A more detailed look shows the visiting Panthers have not exactly done their damage against SEC-caliber competition.

Carolina Forest has feasted on five opponents, who have combined to win three of their 30 totals games. While the Panthers may have not gone through Murderer’s Row in their current four-game win streak, Jones said nothing can replace the feeling a team gets following a win.

“Carolina Forest is very dangerous,” Jones said. “They’re 5-1 and because of that, they have a lot of confidence. They feel like it’s time for them to do some good things in conference play.”

“They have only been in 4A for a couple of years and they’ve struggled in this conference. Now, they feel that this is their time to shine.”

In two seasons as a 4A program, Drew Hummell’s troops came into this season with a 4-11 mark, including an 0-11 campaign in 2008. Jones understands the growing pains associated with making the move into the state’s largest classification as his Demons have taken their lumps in their first go-‘round in 4A. But as L-E prepares for its first conference game, things are starting to look up.

The first half of this season has seen Jones and company been chomped on, not just bitten, by the injury bug as the L-E coaches have had to scramble in putting the right combination on the field. Starters missing games has led to several players being asked to play on both sides of the ball for long stretches of time. This week, however, the Demons started getting some players back to the fold.

“We’re a little bit better. We’re starting to take two steps forward and one step back,” Jones said when asked of his team’s health situation. “We’re getting to the point where we are starting to get guys back.

“Having (safety) Tyler Starling back will really help us in the secondary and give some of our guys some breaks. (Cornerback) Tony Murphy is doing well and we’re glad to see that (tight end) Justin Gilstrap looks like he will be back this week.”

Now that the personnel is what it was at the start of the season, Jones said the next step is to correct the on-field maladies which have plagued his team.

“We just have to get better and eliminate mistakes. If we do that, we’ll be OK. If we continue to fumble the ball and throw interceptions, we’re not going to be very successful,” he said. “We’re trying to correct that and our guys have really been focusing in practice. We’ve had a good week of practice. Hopefully, we can eliminate those mistakes which have hurt us.”

Tonight, the Demon defense will see a Panther offensive unit which will line up in the I-formation, but will break into the spread and one-back sets. Junior Danny Daly triggers the CF offense at quarterback with sophomore tailback Harold Atkinson getting the majority of the ball-carrying duties.

“They have a good running back and a real ‘headsy’ quarterback. They really have some very good players,” Jones said of the CF offense which has a pair of 255-pound offensive linemen, but will still be the smallest unit on that side of the football which L-E has faced among 4A opponents.

Defensively, the visitors will line up in a 3-5 formation and will not be afraid to blitz L-E quarterback Will Dorton. “They have a swarming defense. It is going to be a very difficult task for us,” Jones said.

In addition to homecoming, tonight marks what Jones hopes will be the start of a new season for his troops. With conference play here, all slates are wiped clean as the Demons hop to secure one of the three guaranteed playoff slots which go to the top three finishers in each 4A region.

Jones has told his current group of Demons that they need to only look back to 2002, Jones’ first season at the school’s helm. That L-E team opened with a 2-5 record before reeling off six consecutive wins to land a spot in the AAA Upper State championship game. Jones said he, his staff and his players are hardly cashing in their chips just when the season should start to get interesting.

“Nobody likes to lose. It’s difficult to go out there each week and practice when it’s been a month since we’ve won a game,” Jones said of his team’s daily practice routine. “It’s hard on those kids, but they’ve had great attitudes and they have been in great spirit. It’s been very enjoyable for our coaching staff to work with these guys. As long as they have good attitudes and keep working hard and trying hard, we’ll keep getting better.

“We’re doing some things to try and alleviate our weaknesses and play to our strengths. Hopefully, it will come through in region play.

“We’ve told them this is a new season and that anything can happen now that we’re in region play. And, we have asked our seniors, ‘How do they want to be remembered as a senior class?’ I think these guys have taken that very seriously.”

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