If anything good did come from Camden Military Academy’s season-opening 34-6 loss to Dixie on Friday night, it was that the visiting Spartans cashed in on their final drive to avert the shutout. It also gave Will Rice’s troops a dose of confidence heading into this afternoon’s home opener against Hickory Grove Christian.
The odds were against CMA in going up an already tested Dixie squad which had two games under its belt and was coming off a 7-5 2016 campaign. To make the task even tougher, the host Green Hornets were better than they were a season ago and trotted out a Wing-T offense which gave the untested Spartan defense problems.
Rice, however, said he saw things which his team could build on going forward after Friday’s pairing.
“We did some good things on both sides of the ball,” he said. “Both quarterbacks (Woodson Alexander and Harrison Montgomery) did some good things for us.”
The Spartans also had their share of snafus in the contest. They turned the ball over three times inside their own 30 which led to Dixie scores. CMA had four turnovers overall. “It was first game stuff where we weren’t taking care of the ball,” Rice said of the turnovers.
“We also got tired, which we knew we would,” he added. “They line up foot-to-foot and they just mash you on offense. They have some big old boys and a running back (Chandler Smalley) who would take you for a ride.”
Rice said his team tried to imitate the Dixie offense during practice last week but it was a whole new ballgame when seeing the formation in person.
“It’s one thing when you scheme it with X’s and O’s. It’s another thing when you go up there and they smash it down your throat,” he said. “We had some good defensive stands but they’re a good football team. They made the playoffs last year and they’re better this year.”
Trailing, 34-0, NC closed the evening with a 45-yard scoring march capped by Alexander’s six-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown. “It’s something to build on … something to give you confidence,” he said of closing the night with a touchdown. “We’ll try and carry it over to (today.)”
The Spartans will open their home campaign this afternoon in a 4 p.m. start against a Hickory Grove Christian squad which has lost its first three games and has been outscored by a combined 128-24 in those contests.
The Lions, out of Charlotte, are coming off a 34-7 loss to Concord First Assembly Academy in a game in which Jaylyn Hargett-Boyce was moved from wingback to quarterback. The 6-foot 170-pound senior steadied the ship in triggering the option attack.
“We saw them early in the year and then, when we saw film on them this week,” Rice said, “they changed their offense up.
“They moved their best athlete (Boyce) to quarterback and he’s going to be a challenge to defend. He’s involved in every play. If we don’t stop him, we’re going to be in for a long afternoon. The emphasis has to be that we contain (Boyce) and tackle in space.”
The guests are expected to line up in a five-man front and have the ability to go to a 4-3 look should CMA line up in the spread.
With his team still trying to get into game shape, Rice is concerned about conditioning given the fact that this is an afternoon game.
“We just have to suck it up and get it done,” Rice said of what he is hoping to see from his team. “I’d like to see a little more consistency in moving the ball on offense and getting three and outs on defense. I want to see us not only make the plays but make the plays when it counts.”