08/21/08 — Football preview: North Lenoir

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Football preview: North Lenoir

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 21, 2008 1:35 PM

North Lenoir head coach Wayne Jackson knows that going from a winless campaign in 2007 to making the playoffs in 2008 is a tall task. It doesn't mean that the long-time Hawk front man thinks it's impossible.

"This team has a ton of potential, and a very good work ethic," Jackson said before a recent practice. "We have a young team, but a team where everyone knows their role and they know what to do in order to improve."

For the second consecutive season, Jackson will not have a deep senior class to rely on.

"Last year we only had four seniors and this year only five. The difference is the mentality," said Jackson. "This group of seniors has taken a leadership role, almost as if to say 'we don't want our final season to go like last year'".

Two of the marquee fourth-year players on the Hawks' roster will line up in the trenches when the opening whistle blows. Marquis Kornegay will man a guard spot, while Ethan Yelverton will see a majority of his snaps at tackle.

Known for his attention to detail and discipline-oriented style, Jackson knows that line play and defense are the keys to winning games.

"Last season, even though we went 0-11, I thought we played pretty good defense in most of our games," said Jackson. "It just seemed like every time we got into the end zone on offense, we would give up a heart-breaking score the other way."

A late-season loss to Greene Central still weighs on the coach's mind.

"We got a score in the fourth quarter to take the lead, then we immediately gave up a one-play drive to give it right back," said Jackson. "Those are the kind of mistakes we need to avoid by executing better this year."

Aiming to improve the North Lenoir defense will be linebackers Kornegay, Marquez Powell and Mike Sutton. Jackson expects the trio to anchor the unit.

"There isn't a lot of depth at that position, but I think we have the playmakers to get the job done," said Jackson. "We pulled Chris Darden up from the JV as a freshman to add some depth in the middle, and because he plays very fast, so we think he can contribute."

Another group of talented performers highlight the Hawks' special teams unit. Newcomer Wes Brantley will battle for kicking duties with fellow soccer player Luke Baird. Powell has the punting responsibilities.

"You never know what can happen. It's good to have a capable backup just in case something happens to the kicker early in a ballgame," said Jackson. "Brantley is a pretty good punter too. He can't out-punt Powell yet, but he has shown that he will be able to do the job if needed."

With the season opener against Richlands just 24 hours away, the focus at the Hawks' practices has shifted to the small details that can prove to be the difference in a game.

"We are a wing-T team and we do what we do," said Jackson. "We aren't changing things, so we need to be the best at running our plays and executing our sets."