Lewisville at North Central
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: LHS: 0-4; NC: 3-0
Series record: LHS leads, 19-6
Last meeting: LHS, 41-28, in 2011
Radio-Internet: StarTime 1590 AM, kool1027.com (click on NC logo), kool 102.7 mobile app, TruVista Cable Channel 97 (audio only) beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.
TV: Tonight’s game will be re-broadcast on TruVista Cable Channel 39 next Thursday at 8 p.m. and again on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 1 p.m.
The Skinny: North Central comes into tonight’s game following a bye week. Before that, the Knights blanked East Clarendon, 28-0. It was the first shutout posted by NC since a 49-0 win over Whitmire in the second game of the 2012 season, which was 32 games between shutouts … Lewisville has won the last six meetings in the series with its one-time conference rival. The last Knight victory over the Lions was a 22-12 win on 2003 … The Lions are coached by Camden Military Academy graduate and former Spartan football player, Will Mitchell … Lewisville comes into this game averaging 19.5 points per contest but the opposition has averaged scoring nearly 40 points against LHS … North Central’s first four opponents this season have a combined 1-15 record.
Louis Clyburn knows, first-hand, the outstanding football tradition which Lewisville has carved for itself in the class A football ranks. The North Central head coach also understands the struggles which the Lions are experiencing through the first four games this season.
Lewisville comes into Boonetown tonight with an 0-4 record in a campaign which started on the wrong note as the result of an in-game skirmish with Chester involving players from both teams. After the game film had been viewed by the South Carolina High School League, 16 Lions who left the bench during the scuffle were suspended from the following week’s game at Blacksburg. The large number of Lewisville players who were not going to be in uniform nearly led to LHS head coach Will Mitchell having to forfeit the contest due to a dearth of available players.
This is not the picture which Clyburn had of the LHS program which he had when his locker was next to that of linebacker Mike Barber when the two were members of the 1989 South Carolina Shrine Bowl team.
“When I was playing high school football,” Clyburn said, “you kind of had tunnel vision and you were exposed to limited things. I was fortunate enough to have played in the Shrine Bowl and played with a guy whose locker was right beside mine and his name was Michael Barber, who ended up playing at Clemson.
“As the week went on, I asked him where he went to high school and he said, ‘I go to Lewisville High School.’ I told him that I had never heard of that school. Then, as we get to talking, he tells me that he had never lost a high school football game.”
As the week went on, Barber went to take part in the defensive line drills, oftentimes beating double-teams and making plays on a regular basis with a no holds barred style of playing
“That was the mentality of that football team and, honestly, that is something that is still there, to some degree,” Clyburn said of the Lewisville mindset. “The people who are sitting in their stands and walking the halls of that school, their expectation is to win football games and to win championships. That’s what you’re facing when you play Lewisville.”
Clyburn said when he sees Lewisville on film and then looks at their winless mark through four contests, he is led to believe that the Lions might be on the verge of a breakout game. He just hopes that time is not tonight and that Boonetown is not the place for an LHS revival.
With his team having opened the season with three teams which, to this date have a combined 1-10 record, Clyburn made no bones about the Lions being the toughest opponent his Knights have faced thus far.
“This will be the toughest team that we have played to this point in the season,” said the seventh-year NC head coach. “They have just been snake-bit in a couple of their games.”
The game one suspensions led to half of Lewisville’s players missing what turned into a 38-18 loss to Blacksburg. The following week, after the Lions regrouped and were back at full strength, they gave Chesterfield a good game only to come up short, 49-32. Then, last week, numerous miscues by the Lions helped pave the way for a 27-14 Indian Land victory.
“They’re a team which is very dangerous and should be a lot more successful than they have been in terms of their record,” Clyburn said. “It should be a tough challenge for our guys.”
While tonight will be the fifth game in as many weeks for the Lions, the Knights are coming off a bye last Friday which came on the heels of a 28-0 NC win over East Clarendon. The victory was the third in as many starts for Clyburn and company. And the head coach said the break came at an opportune time as it allowed some of his players who were hurt to heal up and some who were sick in the East Clarendon game to return to health.
After two solid weeks of practice, Clyburn said his team is back healthy and ready to pick up where they left off two weeks ago, albeit against a tougher opponent.
The Lions’ offense averages nearly 20 points per game and is directed by junior quarterback Troy Keels who is coming off a 200-yard passing night against Indian Land in which he clicked on 18 of his 30 pass attempts with two going for touchdowns and no interceptions. In wide receiver D.J. Robinson and running back Mike Hill, Keels has a pair of sure-handed receivers with Hill expected to lead the LHS ground attack.
Lewisville will operate out of the spread set on offense but will also shrink the field and go with a power style of offense. “They are a little like us,” Clyburn said, “in that they run two offenses that may be simple in their scheme but that are two offenses that you have to prepare for. They can speed the tempo up on offense.”
The common denominator for each set is that the Lions have players who can make a big play at any point in the game and from any spot on the field.
“They have speed on offense,” Clyburn said. “(Hill) already has eight touchdown catches in the past three games. (Keels) is a quarterback who can deliver the ball well and we have to be able to put pressure on him.”
“The challenge for us is that they have three guys on offense who are really fast. We have to be able to contain their speed.”
Defensively, opponents have averaged scoring nearly 40 points per game against the Lions who like the try and forced the issue by using their athletic talents to have defenders beat blocks and find their way into the backfield.
“They like to put pressure on you. They certainly have speed over there, too,” Clyburn said of the Lewisville defense.
“We will have to play well if our expectation is to win this football game.”