The St. Stephens Indians are optimistic they can find their first win in 2010 on Friday when they host non-conference foe Maiden. Indians head coach Fred Whalen is also “cautiously optimistic” starting quarterback, Tanner Miller, will be on the field for the first time this season.
Miller, who has been sidelined with a back injury since the start of practice, is feeling better and could be a game-time decision for the Indians.
Although the Indians started out 0-4 this year, St. Stephens’ offense showed improvement over the last few weeks, turning in a solid performance against Newton-Conover last week. Whalen said he wants to see his squad find the endzone more often and run the ball more effectively.
On the other side of the ball, the Blue Devils are eager to get back on the field after a week off. Maiden lost to Lincolnton two weeks ago, and it used the extra week to work on fundamentals.
“I’m eager to see how we respond (after the loss),” Blue Devils head coach Brian Brown said. “We just need to take care of ourselves and get better at what we do — running the football, understanding our defensive scheme and eliminating turnovers.”
Brown and his team have their own quarterback concerns after senior quarterback Matt Johnson suffered a concussion in the loss to Lincolnton. The coach said Johnson took time off during the bye week, but he was back at practice and is clear to start Friday night.
“Their offense runs through him,” Whalen said of Johnson. “He’s big for them because he can run and throw it so well. Stopping him will be a big key for us.”
The Indians picked up a 34-15 win last season at Maiden, and Whalen said this game, like 2009's is a must win.
FRED T. FOARD AT NEWTON-CONOVER
Fred T. Foard is still looking for its first win of the season, and Tigers head coach Ryan Gettys is looking for it to happen soon.
“We practice hard, and we get better. That’s all we can do,” Gettys said. “Good things will happen, and hopefully, they happen this week.”
Those good hopes ride on the back of junior running back Tre Robinson. The big-bruising running back led Foard's’ ground game in last week’s loss to Bunker Hill with 173 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Stefan Gettys, who threw for a touchdown last week, will get the start under center for the third consecutive week for the Tigers.
Newton-Conover already had a tough task ahead for them facing Foard and its big offense, but that task is even tougher for the injury-ridden Red Devils.
Offensive tackle Mikey Comer will not play for Newton-Conover and fullback Jamal Coates is questionable with a thigh injury. Coates has been a workhorse for Newton-Conover’s offense, along side running mate Octavius Harden this season.
Red Devils head coach Nick Bazzle said that won’t change his game plan as he looks for some of his reserves to step-up against the Tigers.
“We still need to play better defense against this smash-mouth (Foard) team,” Bazzle said. “We’ve got to be able to stop the run, as well as the pass better than we have been.”
Offensively, the Red Devils coach wants to see his team get rid of unnecessary penalties and cut down on the costly turnovers in their final non-conference game of the season.