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Warriors look to improve

MERRY HILL – Improvement is the name of the game.

Lawrence Academy will host North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association eight-man power Word of God Friday night and second-year skipper Mike Dail said the game is about improvement.

“The first game won’t make or break our season,” Dail said. “We need to play well and see our progress from a year ago. We want to see where our kids have matured and gotten better. That’s the most important thing.”

Dail’s team struggled last season, his first back at the helm after a four-year retirement, but the coach said he had seen vast growth over the course of the preseason.

“It’s been a joy to see the improvement over last year at this time,” Dail insisted. “Whether that development will mean more wins and less losses or just closer games is yet to be seen.”

The coach said the key likely would come from two first-time starters on the offensive line n sophomores Lance Harrell and Chris Holley.

“How they play will be key,” he said. “They’re both big, but they’re both sophomores so they will have to learn quickly. They have to work hard.”

Word of God was impressive last season and Dail said he knew they would be good again Friday.

“They’re very athletic,” the coach mused. “They’re fast. They’ve got speed. They’re quick. Then they’re really fast.

“My biggest concern is whether or not we can contain that speed,” he continued. “If we can do that, and make the tackle after we get there, we’ll be fine. Understanding, of course, that containing speed is easier said than done.”

The bright spot for the Warriors this year has been their offense.

“Our offense has looked so much better than it did early on last year,” Dail said. “They’ve looked good. Again, that goes back to the O-line.

“Hank Cobb, our senior center, is working hard and trying to get the young fellows beside him to know what they’re doing,” he added. “If we give him a little room, Keith Thompson can make some things happen. Shane Stevens, who’s not as quick as Keith, is still strong and runs well.”

Dail said quarterback Blake Hill was capable of throwing the football well and that the team had receivers who could catch the football.

Friday night’s main focus, however, will be the defense.

“Like in any game, the defense has to be able to hold the other team,” Dail said. “We have to contain on the corner and have to be able to tackle when we get there.”

The Warriors will open their season Friday night at 7:30 p.m. when Word of God pays a visit.