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CMA looks to slow down Hickson and Wolverines

Posted: September 15, 2011 3:19 p.m.
Updated: September 16, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Will Rice is glad that his defense will not have to face another Wing-T offense this week when Camden Military Academy travels to meet East Clarendon.

In exchange, however, Rice and CMA will now have to try and slow down EC quarterback Carlos Hickson.

In a season-opening 47-20 win over Latta, the Wolverines’ senior signal caller completed three of his four passes for 98 yards. But he was much more dangerous when he tucked the ball away that night as he rushed for 287 yards on 17 carries.

A year ago, in a 42-19 win over CMA, Hickson more than made his presence felt as he hurt the Spartans with both his arm and legs. Not surprisingly, Hickson will be the focal point of the guests’ defensive effort.

"Carlos Hickson is a phenomenal athlete. If we don’t tackle him, it’s going to be a long night for us," Rice said.

"Hickson is the key. He can pass the ball, he can run with it and he’s elusive. He also plays safety on defense. He’s their number one guy. Don’t get me wrong, they have a bunch of good athletes over there, but Hickson makes that engine run."

Since opening the season with a win over Latta, Coach Dwayne Howell’s troops lost their next two games. A 49-22 defeat at the hands of Johnsonville was followed by a 56-31 loss to AAA Lakewood in a game in which LHS quarterback Dalvin Bracey ran for 411 yards and six touchdowns.

Tonight’s game marks the third outing of the season for the Spartans, which followed up a season-opening 40-7 defeat at the hands of Davidson Day School with a 41-0 loss to Great Falls and its Wing-T offensive attack last Friday night.

EC operates out of the spread set, with some option plays, which is a bit more familiar to the CMA defense than was the Wing-T. Rice said that should help his defensive unit.

"It won’t be misdirection so, that’s a plus," he said. "But our secondary and our linebackers really have to step up this week because, last week, they did not do a very good job … and they know they didn’t."

Defensively, the hosts will show the Spartans a 3-3-5 look. Rice said that his offense needs to build momentum by getting to the scoreboard while, at the same time, keeping the ball away from Hickson and the EC offense.

After having been outscored by a combined 81-7 count in their first two games, the Spartans need to start getting in sync and Rice hopes that will begin tonight … on both sides of the football.

"It’s all about execution," he said. "The plays that we have run, if they would have been executed right, they would have worked. On the defensive side, our tackling was just atrocious. We worked on that on Monday and again on Tuesday; it’s something that we keep harping on. We just have to tackle well."

Rice said he and his staff were encouraged after the first two days of practice with what they had seen from their team. One of the points of emphasis was getting their players in better shape in order to play 48 minutes of football.

"We had a real good practice on Monday. We had a lot of enthusiasm, some hard hitting and we ran a long time to help with our conditioning," he said. "I’m hoping that by Friday that while we won’t be completely there as far as conditioning, that we’re starting to get there. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Annually, this is about the time of year in which CMA starts to hit its stride. In relation to where most programs are --- which open pre-season practice up in late July ---, this should be the Spartans’ season opener given their number of practices.

Rice said he believes his team is getting to where it needs to be in terms of conditiong and familiarity with the system. In the same breath, however, he said the Spartans have a tough task ahead of themselves this evening.

"Coach Howell does an outstanding job and he has great athletes down there," Rice said. "I expect to see a lot of improvement from our guys, though. This is our fourth week of practice, so I’m expecting a jump in how we perform."

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