By Paul Hershey
With uncertainty and inexperience at quarterback, Concord High head coach E.Z. Smith likely expected his offense to get off to a slow start.
That indeed happened in last week’s season-opening 13-10 loss to Mount Pleasant ? but the reason for it was what surprised and disappointed Smith.
“We have four lineman returning and we did nothing to push the line of scrimmage,” Smith said. “We’ve got three three-year starters and one two-year starter so we’ve got to be better than that.”
Smith challenged the offensive line to get better and he’ll hope to see improvement tonight when the Spiders (0-1) travel to rival Jay M. Robinson (1-1).
Concord used four quarterbacks against Mount, with senior Tony Moore the most impressive. Moore played the entire second half, completing 8 of 15 passes for 119 yards and running for a 41-yard touchdown. He did throw the costly interception that sealed the loss.
Junior Ben Brill and sophomores Eric Brenk and Shawn Willix alternated in the first half.
Smith said any or all of the four could play tonight, but won’t make any decisions until today.
“I met with all four Saturday and said ‘this thing is not totally in Tony’s hands. All of you aregoing to have equal opportunity.’
“Each one is having an opportunity to take snaps (in practice) and we’ll just see who’s going to be the quarterback.”
Smith was happy with the play of a relatively young defense, which allowed just one Mount touchdown.
“Defensively we played well enough to win,” Smith said. “We made some big stops when they got in position, keeping them out of the end zone.
” I think we can still get even better defensively. But if we can hold opponents to 13 points, I do think our offense will catch up.”
Robinson head coach Bobby Clonginer expects his team to see an improved Concord offense tonight.
“From an offensive standpoint they’re trying to find themselves and get some consistency,” he said. “We feel like that will be a point of emphasis for them this week
“We know they’ll come out better this week in terms of execution.”
The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half to beat Hickory Ridge 23-7 last week.
Despite the win, Cloninger said the offense has to play better.
“We very inconsistent and doing that a over a period of time will catch up with you,” he said.
“W played real well defensively in the second half but we were inconstistent on offense and we’ve addressed some of those things. Hopefully we’ll be much improved this week.”
One thing that will help immediately is the return of tailback Jason Hampton. After rushing for 177 yards against Northwest Cabarrus in the opener, Hampton sat out last week’s game.
“It was situation where we felt like the week off would take care of some things,” Cloninger said. “He’s going to be ready to go and play this week.”
The other thing Cloninger will be looking for offensively is for the Bulldogs to take advantage of their scoring chances.
“We’ve got to be able to cash in on opportunities,” he said. “We had four opportunities inside the (Hickory Ridge) 20 where we shot ourselves in the foot and didn’t get anything out of it.”
Robinson quarterback Bradley Clay has passed for over 240 yards in each of the first two games.
“They’re an explosive offensive team and they’re very versatile,” Smith said. “So we’ve got to defend the whole field.”
Robinson senior offensive lineman Jon Wilkerson won’t play tonight after suffering a concussion.
The Bulldogs pulled out a 13-12 win last year ? their first victory over Concord in six meetings, and the Spiders’ final loss of the 2006 season.
“They beat us last year and with us getting beat last week I’m sure they have a lot of confidence going into this game,” Smith said.
Said Cloninger: (The kids) are smart enough to realize the monkey is sort of off their back to play with Concord and win. We approach it like we know we can but we have to prove it once again. They’re going to come out very excited and intense and we’ve got to do the same thing.”