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Dangerous Lewisville invades Boonetown for key region pairing

Posted: October 12, 2011 3:19 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

By TOM DIDATO

C-I (Camden, S.C.) sports editor

Given its non-region schedule, which included 4 3A opponents and the defending state AA champion, you could have all but chalked up Lewisville as bringing an 0-5 ledger into Region 3-A play.

In that respect, the Lions did not disappoint in being outscored by a combined 237-19 in games against York, Chester, Central, Nation Ford and Fort Mill. Once on level ground, Kim Gray’s squad opened league action with a 19-13 win over McBee before falling to Chesterfield last Friday, 42-0.

Tonight, North Central would like nothing better than to keep the Lions on another skid as the Knights host Lewisville on Homecoming in Boonetown.

NC head coach Louis Clyburn, for one, is not being duped by Lewisville’s record given its tough early season slate of games.

“Their first five games were Murderer’s Row,” Clyburn said of LHS’ non-conference slate. “They played some tough, tough teams. They’re not going to come to North Central and be in awe when we take the field, that’s for sure. Sometimes that can pay dividends for you and other times, it can hurt you.”

Tonight’s contest could go a long way toward determining the post-season possibilities for each side. The Knights probably need to win, at least, two of their final three games in order to get to the post-season while LHS could be in the same boat, in needing a minimum of one more victory to have a chance for the state playoffs.

When asked if tonight’s game could be placed in the “must win” category, Clyburn smiled while giving his answer.

“Ever since I arrived at North Central High School and played Camden in week zero in 2009, it has been a ‘must win’ situation at North Central,” he said.

In that respect, tonight’s game is like every other contest which the Knights have played. But in facing the Lions, Clyburn said his team will go up against a team which, on the hoof, hardly looks like a one-win squad.

“They’re definitely not short on athletes,” he said of Lewisville. “Probably, from top to bottom in our conference, they might be just behind Chesterfield in the number of athletes they have. They have kids that look good when you see them running around out there.”

Clyburn said there are obvious similarities between the two sides. Both he and Gray, Clyburn said, are trying to turn back the clock and “re-route the culture” to return their respective programs into ones which can recapture the winning ways of their pasts.

Offensively, the Lions have given the NC defense plenty to work on in practice this week. The guests will line up in the double wing, the spread as well as in the ‘I’ formation and will do several different things out of each set. For that reason, the NC defense has spent the week performing a multitude of formation checks this week.

With all those schemes, LHS has only managed to score 38 points, but the NC boss said that figure has as much to do with whom the Lions played as it does with their execution.

“They’ve struggled with what they want to do on offense in the first five games, but I think anybody would with the defenses they went up against in those games,” he said.

For the third consecutive week, the NC offense will run up against a defense which employs a 4-2 look. The Lions will mix things up the secondary between cover two and cover three. “The good part for our offense this week,” Clyburn said, “is that we’ve been able to, basically, take the same game plan into our games the past three weeks.”

Just as the schedule has hurt the LHS offense, its defense has been scorched for 292 points with 237 of those coming in the first five weeks of the season.

The NC offense got back in gear in last week’s loss to Great Falls by piling up 372 yards. Clyburn said junior quarterback Grayson King is getting more comfortable under center while an improving offensive line, which is back intact after a run of injuries, is also getting in sync and opening holes for tailback Tavarus Porter.

The Knights have also done a better job with ball security, something which their coach hopes will carry over into tonight’s contest.

“We’re going into this game with a workman’s attitude that we’re going to control the football and not make the same mistakes where we’re turning the football over,” Clyburn said. “Knock on wood, we’ve been real good with that the last three weeks.”

Clyburn said he could not be more proud of his players’ focus in practice.

 “One thing they are good at is once they get to practice, they have a good attitude and do a good job of focusing,” he said. “That’s, probably, a tribute to our coaches for doing a good job of getting our players’ attention and getting them focused on the next opponent.”

These final three games of the regular season amount to a mini-playoff series to get into the playoffs for North Central. Clyburn said he expects his players to be up for the challenge.

“Playing hard and finishing strong is something we want to emphasize over these next three weeks,” he said. “It’s like I told our guys, if we put the effort into it, don’t turn the ball over, play good football and not get sloppy with the football or with our technique, we’re going to have the opportunity to finish this season with three wins.”

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