Mustangs Ready to Run in 2008
When you ask North Moore head football coach Butch Cleaveland about his roster for the upcoming season, he fights to hold back a smile. It is a smile that a coach gets when he thinks his team is on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Cleaveland may have good reason to think that way.
Last year, the Mustangs won three of 11 games but were forced to forfeit those wins after discovering an ineligible player. This season, 36 players are on their varsity roster, more than they have had in recent years.
"Our numbers are way up this year, and the better news is a lot of our kids don't just want to wear the uniform. They want to compete. And I know we are definitely bigger, faster and stronger than last year."
Included among those 36 athletes are 19 juniors and four sophomores, who Cleaveland says will battle for playing time.
Cleaveland said that some of the returning starters are feeling the pressure of having to work harder in practice to hold off teammates competing for playing time.
"Competition is the one thing we wanted to create in this program," Cleaveland said. "This year we have done that."
The Mustangs will change to a different offense that will feature a between-the-tackles run attack, complemented by a short passing game.
The change, Cleaveland said, is necessitated by the personnel.
"We have a lot of skilled players but we are missing that 4.4-speed guy," Cleaveland said.
The Mustangs have several players who should share carries in the backfield, including converted receiver Harold Chandler and D.J. Brower along with the main ball carrier, senior Corey Smith.
Quarterback remains undecided, but has come down to a battle between sophomore Xavier Scotten and junior Michael Renzi.
"Both have handled the new offense quite well," Cleaveland said.
He expects that both players will see significant playing time regardless of who wins the starting quarterback position.
The real key for the success of the offense will be the play of the Mustang offensive line. Cleaveland says the line will be anchored by junior center Levi Moore. He expects Mitchell Broth, Jason Smith, and Colton Long also to contribute.
"There has been a lot of competition on the offensive line right now," Cleaveland said. "And that is a real good thing."
Senior wide receivers Patrick Gallger and Lyle Barnett will be key components to the passing attack. Barnett, a converted quarterback, was elected team captain.
Defensively, Cleaveland has high hopes for his team.
"We've had a lot of competition from a lot of people," he said, "We expect good things from our defense this season."
Two of the key cogs on the defense will be linebacker Mark Forrest and linebacker/defensive end Rashad Brower.
"We are going to run the same defensive scheme, but with a better emphasis on defensive line play," Cleaveland said.
One of those defensive linemen who could be counted on is Tim Threadgill, a player Cleaveland said had a great off-season and came to camp in better shape than any other player.
Cleaveland believes his team has enough talent and enough bodies to be able to reduce significantly the number of two-way players.
Scanning his roster, Cleaveland notes that he expects only three or four players to have to play both ways.
"We are trying to get more kids involved," Cleaveland said.
"It is hard to talk a kid into lifting weights and working hard all year if he is going to be a backup. The more kids we can play, the better we will be in the long run."
Contact Tom Embrey at 693-2477 or by e-mail at tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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