2012-09-06 / Sports

Lincoln’s passing game impressive; defense is solid, W-W coach says

After a week off, and coming off two very impressive wins, the Washington Wilkes Tigers’ confidence is strong as they polish the final preparations for this Friday night’s war with the Lincoln County Red Devils. Meeting for the 75th time in the series history, the archrivals’ record stands at 32-36-6 with W-W on the short end so the Tigers are out to gain some ground toward evening up the score.

The Devils whipped McCormick last week 24-0 in much the same way that the Tigers whipped Calhoun Falls two weeks ago. The new Lincoln quarterback, Ben Turner, who missed the 2011 season with a knee injury, completed 18 passes for two touchdowns while the typically strong defense held the Chiefs to just 63 yards of total offense.

After the fall of defending Class A State Champion Savannah Christian two weeks ago, the Red Devils now sit atop the polls at No. 1, a position with which they are familiar and used to defending.

“They are a typical Lincoln County team, very solid, great defense, outstanding kicking game,” Tiger Head Coach Robby Robinson reported after seeing the game in McCormick last weekend. “They have different personnel but they haven’t changed up a whole lot scheme-wise.”

Robinson said he and the other coaches were impressed with Turner who threw for almost 250 yards against McCormick, but he said the Devils run the ball as well as they have in the past.

“They have two outside receivers that are as good as anybody we’ll see all year,” he said. One is “a legitimate D1 receiver who is 6-foot- 3 and about 200 pounds.” That’s Zireycus Letman, No. 8. The other is Jalen Franklin, No. 27. “They have two big-time weapons right there and they’re both seniors,” Robinson said.

The Devils running game is centered around senior Mike McIntyre who had 38 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown last week – not so typical for a Lincoln County team – but Robinson is not taking anything for granted. “The running kind of sputtered against McCormick,” he reported, “so I’m sure they are working really hard on that.”

The Devil Defense is led by senior linebacker Dayshawn Taylor who was stalwart in his play in 2011. “Defensively, it looks like a typical Lincoln County team with a great defense that follows the ball,”Robinson said. “Their ringleader on defense (Taylor) is also a legitimate Division 1 prospect. He’s as good as they come.”

There was an unknown number of unknown players who did not play in Lincolnton’s game with McCormick. They were suspended for disciplinary reasons and are expected back for this week’s game. Whether their return will make a significant difference in the team’s play is also unknown according to Robinson.

Concerning this week’s game plan, Robinson pointed out that “It’s the second game of the season so it’s still early. It’s not time to expand game plans too much too quick. We’re still working on stuff that we already have installed and we’ll just add a little bit more to it each week. Right now it’s still all about fundamentals and execution.”

One big goal the coach has for the Tigers this year is for the special teams. Last year against Lincolnton, a big punt return and a fumbled kickoff reception led to two touchdowns for the Red Devils. “I want us to win the kicking game battle this year,” he said. “We had two big kicking game mistakes last year that put them in the red zone in a hurry. So I want to see us do well in the kicking game in every game but especially this one because of what happened last year.”

The Red Devils won 28-12 in 2011 but except for those kicking game mistakes and a couple of extra points, it was a tie game.

“We just want to do what we’ve been doing – in the scrimmage and the first game,” Robinson said. “We want to execute, play hard, and go over there and see what happens,” he continued. “We’re excited. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. They’re No. 1 in the state and you don’t get a chance to match up with a No. 1 team very often so that’s a good thing for us. We don’t have any pressure on us, they’re supposed to win.

Game time at Buddy Bufford Field is 7:30 p.m.

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