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Knights are ready to win scoreboard battle while leaving the statistics for another day

Posted: September 15, 2011 3:29 p.m.
Updated: September 16, 2011 5:00 a.m.

In each of North Central’s first three games of the season, the Knights have out-gained the opposition in total yards. Still, Louis Clyburn’s team finds itself searching for that first victory of the season.

The latest win on the stat sheet but not the scoreboard came in last week’s 42-14 loss to Andrew Jackson in a game in which NC held a 373-273 edge in total offense.

While piling up big numbers is nice, Clyburn and company would settle for one little scratch in the "win" column.

"We’re putting up some yardage numbers," Clyburn said. "At this point in the season, though three games, we have more yardage than we had that entire first season (2009) I was at North Central. We’re putting up the numbers and we’re executing but, right now, the little things are making a difference. We have to correct that.

"When you come out of a game like that (AJ) and you see the yardage totals and that we out-gained them and that we did this or did that to them, but we’re not out-scoring people … well, that has to change."

Tonight, the Knights return home for the second straight week and will host a Buford team with which they are quite familiar. The two former conference foes played in the Camden Shrine Club Jamboree on Aug. 12 and then met in a game-type scrimmage four days later.

While Clyburn’s teams --- at Andrew Jackson in 2008 and the past two years at North Central --- have had success against Mike Wells’ troops in pre-season meetings, when the games count in the regular season, Buford has a 3-0 record against a Clyburn-led squad.

"I’d like to beat Buford," Clyburn said. "We had them beat when I was at AJ and had some mysterious things happen near the end of the ballgame.

"I told Mike (Wells) that he has something on me, right now."

For that to change tonight, the Knights must get healthy.

In last week’s loss to AJ, tailback Tavarus Porter tweaked his left ankle and was walking gingerly on it this week. In addition, the team’s leading rusher has a gash on his hand which will have to be padded and covered should be get the green light to play this evening. Junior tailback Clarence Williams also missed some time this week with a back injury, suffered when he was sandwiched by a pair of AJ defenders last week.

Wide receiver Raijon Jones has been hampered by a strained calf muscle while on the illness front, quarterback Grayson King missed practice early in the week with bronchitis while starting guard Dennis Stevens also had a health-related issue.

Clyburn said he hopes to get a majority of that group back in the fold for tonight’s contest.

"It’s just that time of year where you have sinus problems and this, that and the other thing are going around," he said. "I’m sure other teams are going through the same thing, but we’ve had four or five guys, who are critical to our success, nursing some injuries this week.

"We’ll be as close to 100 percent as we can be by game time. And, if we don’t have one of them, that means there will be an opportunity for one of these younger players to step up and make some plays."

Clyburn said he learned of the ailments to his players when he arrived at school on Monday. He said he wished his team could have had a bye this week in order to get healthy.

"This was one of those weeks that you would like to go into a game against a Wing-T offense and be able to have some live reps and tackle. But when we showed up for school on Monday, you just realize that you’re at the point in the season where you really need an open date," he said. "That’s one of the things that I’m going to try and tackle next year."

Before next year, Clyburn and company must concern themselves with the task at hand and preparing to see the Wing-T offense for the first time this season. The scheme has been in vogue at Buford ever since Ernie Hughes took as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach in 1989. Since then players in the recreation department league and the middle school have been taught the set. Even with an injury to their starting signal-caller, the Jackets have not missed a beat.

"They have a certain amount of plays that they run out of the Wing-T," Clyburn said. "What you have to do is to get them out of their comfort zone and get them to call those plays that they normally don’t call and then, you get them to the point where they commit turnovers and those type things.

"They had an injury at quarterback, but I think they’ve gotten better there. The guy they have at quarterback now runs around and is harder to tackle than the guy he replaced. I hate it for the guy that got hurt, but the guy they have there now is doing a pretty good job."

Buford’s lone win in three starts this year came over McBee. But a more telling sign of how good the Jackets are came in a 23-13 loss to a strong Indian Land squad in the season opener.

Clyburn said the perfect blueprint for tonight would be for the Knights to score early and often and take the Jackets out of what they like to do and make them have to throw the ball.

"What we need to do is to score some points early, which is what we’ve been doing," Clyburn said. "And our defense is going to have to tackle. Ultimately, if you can get them at a (point) disadvantage in the second half, it will certainly help your chances of winning.

"If they get the lead, they like to sit on the lead and protect the football. We have the strike capability to score points in that situation, but our game plan is that anything that we can do to get them on their heels early gives us a chance to win the ballgame."

Clyburn said his team has gotten better with each week and he believes that if this game is close in the fourth quarter, his team has the experience and talent to come away with their first win of the season.

What Clyburn does not want is a fourth straight week in which his troops win the battle of the statistics, but lose the war which is the final score.

"Sometimes," he said, "you look into the statistics and it can uncover some things about your ballclub. And then, you can look at the statistics and it doesn’t give you a true sense about your ballclub. The big statistic that we have to focus on is the points. Right now, that’s where we are deficient."

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