The Person High School varsity football team struggled on Friday night, managing a season-low 71 yards in a 35-13 loss at Riverside to end its non-conference slate.
The Rockets now begin Central Conference play tomorrow night, as they welcome Cedar Ridge at 7 p.m. for Hall of Fame night.
“Our offensive line has to do a better job communicating and getting back to the fundamentals of how we’re supposed to run our offense,” Person (2-2) head coach Carl Smith Jr. said. “I also want them to continue loving up on each other. We’re not in a bad spot – all of our previous games were non-conference. We’re getting ready for conference and like our chances.”
The Rockets sat .500 last year through four games, only to lose at Chapel Hill High School and all five conference matchups.
Smith sees his guys having a better run through conference this season, starting with tomorrow.
“We feel like we’ve got the talent,” Smith said. “We feel like we’ve gotten a lot better from last year. We’re still young and learning, but we have the pieces to make a strong showing in conference. My players don’t stop fighting – they’ve proven that through the four non-conference games.”
Cedar Ridge (1-2) enters the game off its bye week. The Red Wolves lost their opener, 57-0, at Chapel Hill High School, edged out East Chapel Hill in an 8-6 battle, then fell on the losing end of a 56-0 shutout at Bartlett Yancey on Sept. 2.
Cedar Ridge has only gained 322 yards through three games. Tyler Fields (71 yards) and Justin Hartsell (66) lead a four-man rushing attack, while Tom Crawford (13-30-5, 96 yards) heads the passing game.
“They run a 3-4 defensively, while offensively, they seem to kind of mix it up sometimes,” Smith said. They bear an I-formation, sometimes a shotgun set and throw to the boundaries.”
Though the Rockets are the favorites going in, Smith does not want his players overlooking their Orange County neighbors.
“We prep for Cedar Ridge the same way we prep for Halifax or Riverside,” Smith said. “We’ll practice with the same intensity and attention to detail. It doesn’t matter who we’re facing, we want to make sure everybody’s on the same page. For anyone who’s not on that page, we’re (coaches) going to look for another kid who can continue to do so.”
Smith is looking for his O-line and quarterback, E.J. Palmer, to have good performances tomorrow night.
Regardless of how tomorrow’s game turns out, Smith simply wants to see them grow from last week.
“They were a little down after the Riverside game,” Smith said. “I don’t believe they put their best foot forward. They’re itching to get back on the field against a new opponent. The biggest thing we’re leaning on is that we haven’t put together a full game. We’re nowhere near playing our best football. It’s still kind of early. We want to be hitting that stride near the end of the season and going into playoffs.”
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