Mustangs Face First Road Test
Speed, speed and more speed.
That is how North Moore head football coach Butch Cleaveland describes South Stanly High School. The Rebel Bulls (2-1) promise to be a stout opponent for the Mustangs (0-3) when the teams tangle Friday night.
"They (South Stanly) are a great challenge," Cleaveland said. "They are very aggressive, very physical, everything a coach doesn't want to see on film that is what they showed on film."
The Mustangs, comining off a tough 12-6 loss to South Robeson will play their first game away from home. The Mustangs were scheduled to play at Union Pines two weeks ago, but bad weather and failure to install new bleachers at Union Pines gave the Mustangs an extra home game.
South Stanly is coming of its bye. The week prior, the Bulls dropped a tough 10-7 decision to Parkwood on a last-second 35-yard field goal.
Cleaveland is hopeful the change of scenery will take some of the pressure off his young team.
"We'll really get a chance to focus on football, there are not as many fans, not as many distractions on the road," Cleaveland said. "We get a nice meal, then we'll get on the bus and for 40 minutes can focus on football."
In order to be successful Cleaveland said his team will have to neutralize the big play.
In week one against Princeton the Mustangs allowed a 62-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker to start the game. Against Union Pines the Mustangs yielded scoring plays of 31, 40, and 45 yards. Against South Robeson the defense was stout all night until it allowed an 86-yard tiebreaking touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Chief among the big-play threats for the Bulls is two-way standout Terry Shankle. Shankle totaled 973 yards receiving and had 15 interceptions as a defensive safety. He is preseason first-team all-state selection at both positions who scored on five of his first six pass receptions this season.
Defensively the Mustangs will not only have to contain the speed of the Bulls, but they will have to manage the size of an offensive line that is anchored by preseason all-state selection Anthony Stroud. Stroud is a 6-4, 285-pound anchor to a big, strong offensive line.
Quarterback Detric Allen, a running and passing threat and running back James Watkins give the Bulls a balanced offensive attack.
Last season the Rebel Bulls handed North Moore a 48-14 defeat in a game that was played on a Monday after it was postponed due to severe weather.
In that game the Mustangs held a 7-6 lead before Shankle, who returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown, and the Bulls roared back with 29 unanswered points to take a 35-7 halftime lead.
Last season the Bulls rolled up 267 total yards of offense, including 210 rushing.
Offensively the Mustangs sputtered in the first two games of the season, but began to show signs of improvement against South Robeson. Sophomore quarterback Xavier Scotten passed for more than 100 yards in the game, and rushed for the team's only touchdown -- an 18-yard scamper in the first quarter.
More importantly Scotten moved his team down the field late in the fourth quarter, driving the Mustangs from their own 30 to the South Robeson 7, before the drive ended on a controversial fumble call.
"We've shown a lot of heart," Cleaveland said. "Our kids have shown they really care about football, they really care about their teammates and they really care about the season."
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