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Knights prepared to make playoff push

Posted: October 14, 2010 8:45 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Less than a year removed from a winless season, second-year North Central head coach Louis Clyburn understands some of the rough times which Lewisville is going through this year.

The Lions, which will host North Central tonight, had the unthinkable happen to them before the start of the regular season when senior tailback/defensive back Brian Colvin collapsed and died during a pre-season jamboree. Since then, LHS has lost each of its seven regular season games and have yielded better than 41 points per contest.

Having been in first-year Lions’ head coach Marvin Burke’s shoes, at least as far as the actual coaching part of the game is concerned, Clyburn said his team can ill afford to look at the hosts’ record and become overconfident this week.

 “It’s one of those things where we’re certainly not in a situation where we can say, ‘Hey, if we play well we’re going to win the game,’” Clyburn said. “We have to go out there and fight and scratch for everything we get. We can assume nothing and we’re not taking anything for granted this week.

“We’re going into this game with that fighter’s mentality and do whatever it takes and play as hard as we can to try and win this ballgame.”

The Knights will try to snap a five-game skid of their own tonight after having faced a tough non-conference schedule before losing to fellow Region 3-A favorites Chesterfield and Great Falls in each of the past two Friday nights. With those contests behind them, one cannot help but think that NC is not on, at least, equal footing with the final three times on its regular season slate, starting with Lewisville.

Clyburn said he has preached to his players about this being a three-game season, in terms of playoff possibilities.

“We break it down and tell them that these are the three most important games of our season. These are the games that will determine whether we make the playoffs or not,” he said. “Yes, we have a point system, but these three games are the most important ones of the year for us.

“The bulk of our team is sophomores and juniors and they are starting to get seasoned, as some old coaches would say. Hopefully, we can make a run, get these guys some playoff experience, build on it and give these seniors a good send-off as to how they finish off their high school football career.”

Last week, against Great Falls, the Knights tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter before the Red Devils closed with a 28-0 run. In that contest, NC junior tailback Tavarus Porter looked back to being 100 percent as he rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown.

Porter was one of several NC players who are returning to health. And, Clyburn said, at the right time. “We probably peaked last week, in terms of being healthy,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re on a favorable run, in terms of our health.”

That cannot be good news to Lewisville’s ears.

The Lions have run through several quarterbacks, trying to find the one could give the offense a charge. In last week’s loss to Chesterfield, the Lions put a freshman at quarterback and ran him out of the Wildcat formation. That scheme may well be what the Knights will see tonight. But, LHS can also go into the spread set in an attempt to loosen a defense up.

Clyburn said his defense could see the same play on numerous occasions should the hosts find success with it. That has happened before.

“Offensively, you can tell that they have searched and searched to find something that works,” Clyburn said. “Against Chesterfield last week, they scrolled through their offense, found something that worked and then, ran in five or six times in a row.

“Our defensive coaches have their work cut out for themselves in terms of what we’re going to see on offense from them. But, I think our kids are prepared. And, it’s like I told them, if we tackle well, it doesn’t matter what (LHS) runs.”

Defensively, the Lions have been more settled. Like NC, they employ a four-man front and will play a variety of coverages in the secondary.

In watching the Lions on film and in talking with the Lewisville coaches, Clyburn said he found out that things, both little and large, had been the team’s undoing. Athletically, he said, Lewisville is a bit scary. The NC coach is hoping that tonight is not the night in which the hosts put it all together and play like LHS teams of the recent past.

“You look at Lewisville and they just have such a strong football tradition with state championships and a lot of wins,” Clyburn said. “They’ve gone through some struggles … it’s been tough for them this year. They’ve had their own injuries this year, as I found out in talking with their coaches. But when you look out there, they have some really, really good athletes.”

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