Yellow Jackets look for second road win

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Lee County (1-0) at Ben L. Smith (0-1) - 7:30 p.m.

SANFORD — Lee County’s football team hits the road again tonight, traveling to Greensboro to take on Ben L. Smith (0-1) at 7:30 p.m.

Last week’s trip to Spartanburg, with a field trip to Charlotte along the way, then not to mention a 55-0 romp over Spartanburg Christian, was a good bonding experience to open the season. This Yellow Jacket squad is very different, primarily much younger, than last year’s which had 28 seniors. No coach would look forward to having two lengthy bus trips for the first two Fridays of the season, but in this instance, two road games could prove better in the long run than two cozy home games starting the season.

While Ben L. Smith went 0-10 last season and started this season with a 38-20 loss to Northwest Guilford last Friday, going on the road to clash with a 4A program will be much different than taking on a private school making its varsity football debut. Lee County head coach Burton Cates made no secret about the step up to his Jackets in practice this week.

“We’ve had a good week of practice. I think our team realizes the competition level is going to be greatly increased (tonight),” Cates said.

Lee County, after kicking off to open the game, led 14-0 a little more than three minutes into last Friday’s game.

Quarterback Duane Bland rushed for two touchdowns and tossed to Nolan Groce for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Kentrell French carried for two touchdowns. Lots of Jackets got to play, carry the ball and even find the end zone in the 55-0 game.

The opportunity for second- and third-string Jackets to play, though, was more than just a chance to have fun.

“We want to build depth at a number of positions right now,” Cates said.

Improving with each game and practice between now and the start of Cape Fear Valley games is the main focus said Cates.

As for game two, the host Golden Eagles have big play ability, especially at the wide receiver position, and keeping that ability in check will be a test, Cates said.

“We want to make them have to run long, 12-15-play, drives to get down the field,” Cates said.

Playing a cleaner, smarter game than Ben L. Smith will be key. The Yellow Jackets need to win the turnover and penalty categories, he said.

The Jackets will have two games of experience under their belts when they get to their home opener next Friday, versus another 4A foe, yet a familiar one in Athens Drive. It can be an easier, more-exciting step in the right direction with a 2-0 record in hand.