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Clyburn hopes renewed focus will carry North Central to first victory

Posted: September 22, 2011 1:42 p.m.
Updated: September 23, 2011 5:00 a.m.

It all seems too simple … and it was.

Last season, North Central’s defense honed in on trying to slow down Indian Land quarterback Rondreas Truesdale as the key to stopping the Warriors. Well, Truesdale did not light things up personally, but Indian Land did in leaving Boonetown with a 49-7 victory.

The game plan is similar tonight as Louis Clyburn takes his Knights to Lancaster County to meet Truesdale and company in the non-conference finale for both teams. Like a year ago, the hosts have supplied their standout quarterback with a solid supporting cast.

A week ago, Truesdale and tailback Trey Eaves, a transfer from Independence High School in Charlotte, combined for 370 yards in offense in a 64-6 blitzing of McBee. Clyburn said he hoped Truesdale tired himself out in that game, but is not counting on it.

"They have certainly done a good job over the past two years with Truesdale at quarterback. Now, they’re moving him around a little more and playing a younger kid (Dalton McGuirt) at quarterback as they plan for life after Truesdale," Clyburn said. "He’s playing receiver and running back; the kid is very talented.

"Last year, we did a fairly decent job of containing (Truesdale); he had one big play on us. But it was the running back and the receiver --- who were both seniors --- that gave us fits and that we couldn’t stop. I’ve told our defense this week that we’re going in with that same game plan this year. We’re not going to have that huge penetration where you want to get up the field and then, you create seams for their guys to run in. This is one of those weeks where you stay at home. That backside end just has to sit there because Truesdale reverses field a good bit and he may ride that zone play and come back to you."

Eaves, who rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns on seven carries last week, is coming off consecutive 100-yard rushing games. His emergence in the backfield has created a nightmare scenario for opposing defenses which are bent on trying to stop Truesdale and the eighth-ranked team in class AA.

"It’s assignment football like when you play a Wing-T or Navy-type of offense," Clyburn said of the challenge faced by his defense. "You have to stay in your spot and carry out your assignment. Then, when you see the ball break the line of scrimmage, then you start your pursuit angle. It’s been a discipline-type of deal with our defense and they’ve done well in practice this week with that. They’ve risen to the challenge."

After having opened the season with three straight games of racking up more than 330 yards in offense, the Knights were held to just 144 in a 35-8 loss to Buford. Equally as troubling were NC’s struggles in the red zone, which were addressed in practice this week with drills designed to improved the team’s efficiency when they get the ball inside the opponent’s 20 yard line.

As far as the Knights’ offense, in general, is concerned, Clyburn hopes that running backs Tavarus Porter and Clarence Williams will be at full strength tonight as the guests look to get back to putting up similar numbers as they did in the season’s first three weeks.

"We want them to go in with confidence. We’ve shown them where we think we can attack them," Clyburn said of his team’s offensive approach for tonight. "This week, if their defense lines up a certain way, I truly believe that we ought to be able to run the football on them and run it effectively. I’ve challenged our kids and said, ‘Heck, why don’t we throw a goal out of rushing for 300 yards.’

"That doesn’t mean that we’re not going to throw the football, but the best defense when you play a team like Indian Land is keeping that guy (Truesdale) off the field. If we can run for 300 yards and keep him on the bench and keep our offense on the field, that has to be a huge advantage for us … if we can accomplish that."

In last week’s game, Clyburn inserted sophomore Tristan McCathern at quarterback, along with starter junior Grayson King: The two have different, but some similar qualities. While there is not a quarterback controversy in Boonetown, Clyburn said both underclassmen will see time under center tonight to take advantage of their skills.

"Grayson brings a little more experience and a little more ability in the throwing game," Clyburn said. "Tristan brings more experience in that ‘I’m a tough nut and I’ll run right over you’ in running the football. He has speed. He’s not afraid and I think that brings a little bit of swagger to that side of the football for us. I like that.

"We’re definitely talented at the quarterback position and we’re going to be moving these guys around in the coming weeks and figuring out a rotation."

During the course of last week’s loss, Clyburn said he dealt with some attitude and discipline problems along his team’s sidelines. Those issues were addressed last week during the game and were re-emphasized in practice this week.

The Knights hope to reap the benefits, coming as a result of their new focus, beginning tonight.

"We have to have a team where we say, ‘If you’re on this football team, you’re all in,’" Clyburn said. "We had a couple guys who were riding on the fence. We’re pushing these kids to be either ‘all in’ or ‘all out.’

"Ultimately, I want every single one of them to stay in the boat, but at the same time, sometimes you have to push them a little harder."

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