NC predicted to win first football scrimmage against East Paulding

Michael Smith, Sports Editor

On August 12, NC will play its first football game in a preseason scrimmage with the East Paulding Raiders.

East Paulding plans to carry the momentum from a successful 2015 campaign into the oncoming season. Last year, they handed Allatoona, eventual 5-AAAAA state champions, their only loss of the season. The Raiders also shut out opponents twice last season and scored over 35 points three times. After an eight and two regular season, the Raiders finished their year with a first round playoff loss to Lanier High School.

After a disappointing 5-5 regular season and a heartbreaking opening round loss to close the 2015 year, the Warriors enter the 2016 season looking to bounce back from five losses of less than four points. The NC offense gained significant experience last season, most importantly with quarterback. Senior Will Lovett took over the Warrior offense from graduated senior Tyler Queen, the first time NC replaced a quarterback since Queen’s freshman season. Lovett worked to lose weight and gain speed and strength over the past two seasons, eventually earning himself a scholarship offer from Troy University. NC returns two stud receivers from last season in Drew Tejchman and Quannie Green. Both receivers avoided tight coverage for most of last season and should play better in 2016. NC also gained another talented athlete in Imad Strozier, who joined the team early in the offseason.

East Paulding will bring a 3-3 stack on its defensive front, aligning defensive linemen directly across from the center and each tackle and one linebacker directly behind each lineman. The defense exists primarily to stop modern spread offenses like the Warriors from outrunning the defense and outflanking them from sideline to sideline.

Sports Editor Michael Smith lays out East Paulding's defensive strategy against the NC Warriors.
Michael Smith
Sports Editor Michael Smith lays out East Paulding’s defensive strategy against the NC Warriors.

However, the defense presents a fairly easy target for opposing running games: “B-gap Bubbles.” B-gap means the space between the offensive guard and center, and without a defender directly over the area, offensive run games, especially ones based around physical, violent running backs like NC’s CJ Cole and Jai Erwin can crash forward for fairly easy yards. NC will force the Raider defense to focus on eliminating the runs, then use its speed to throw the ball quickly to attack outside with its electric receivers.

On defense, NC will look to eliminate the Raider run game. The Raiders will attempt to run the ball with consistency and dominance, using motion to give the ball on sweeps and running counter plays after fake sweeps. Expect the East Paulding quarterbacks to run the ball plenty, especially in short yardage situations. The East Paulding offense moderately resembles the old Wing T offense, which focuses on running the football off of multiple fake sweeps and other moving backs designed to confuse defenses. On passing plays, expect the Raiders to sprint out quarterbacks and use their quarterbacks’ athleticism if the receivers fail to get open.  Due to the preseason game, expect both teams to begin heavily rotating reserve players after the first quarter and move to nearly completely JV teams by the end of the fourth quarter. Also keep an eye out for senior NC linebacker Jamal Kuku, who tore his ACL in the first half of 2015 and expects to play the full season. NC’s star senior kicker, Will Horton, will also play for the first time since 2014 after fully recovering from a torn oblique.

The Chant’s prediction: NC: 31, East Paulding: 20.