Cavaliers look for three straight at home
Two weeks ago, Southern Lee’s football team was trying break out of a six-game losing streak. Two conference victories later, the Cavaliers (3-6, 2-2) are in the middle of the playoff chase in the Cape Fear Valley.
The Cavs have put themselves in that position, even “in a situation with conference play where we basically control our own destiny again,” says Cavalier head coach Don Simon, with two blowout wins: 57-21 over Union Pines and 31-6 over Westover last Friday.
Southern Lee needs the positive momentum to carry into tonight and a home contest against Terry Sanford (2-7, 2-2) at 7:30 p.m.
Simon, in his first year at Southern Lee, knew the Cavs would improve as the season moved along. A bye week prior to the Union Pines contest has proven a key marker in the team’s growth.
“We had to go back to the fundamentals some,” Simon said, “but we were also able to add a couple things offensively to showcase the talent we know we have.”
Teaching new coaching systems in all phases of the game has been a step-by-step process, by design, said Simon.
“We knew we couldn’t rush and add to much,” he said.
“We’ve been building to get to right where we are right now.”
The Cavalier passing attack, primarily with Emond Caldwell connecting with Aaron Blockmon for touchdown plays of 41 yards and 79 yards, helped the Cavs pull away from the Wolverines last Friday.
Southern Lee’s running game and defense were at the best they’ve been, which were very good signs, Simon said.
“Defensively, we played outstanding,” he said.
An aggressive, attacking defense held the Wolverines to less than 150 yards total.
“We got a lot of blue hats to the ball. We did a good job swarming to the ball. (Westover) was a really athletic team, so it was important that our kids got a lot of hats to the ball and they did a great job.”
Patrick Bunnell and Monte McLean rushed for touchdowns, with Bunnell totaling 63 yards on 10 rushes.
Success running the ball early in the game set up the Caldwell-to-Blockmon big plays later said Simon.
Terry Sanford, coming in off a 41-26 loss to Lee County in Fayetteville, presents a bigger challenge than the Cavs’ last two opponents. The Cavaliers will have to play well to move the ball versus Terry Sanford’s athletic, pressuring defense, said Simon. And on the other side of the ball, running back Jahmaal Daniel and quarterback Jordan McRae make stopping the Bulldogs on the ground tough.
Two wins at the right time of the season have given the Cavaliers a big boost and now another valuable building experience under a first-year head coach - the chance for two big games, and perhaps more, at the end of the season.