The Dark Horses will saddle up and head north to face Bunn in the NCHSAA 2AA Eastern Regional Championship on Friday night in hopes of earning a berth in the 2AA Championship game for the second consecutive year. After upsetting number one seeded High Point Andrews last week Clinton will have their hands full with a very good Bunn squad on their home field.
Defensively the horses will need a repeat performance from last week to keep the Bunn offense in check. Bunn features a shifty running back in Tevin Perry who has rushed for 2,022 yards in 14 games this season, leading a running attack that has averaged 352 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats operate out of the wing-T offense and prefer to keep the ball on the ground. Before practice on Wednesday Clinton head coach Bob Lewis talked about the Wildcat offense saying, “they are a true wing-T team. They have a good back that cuts well so we have worked hard this week on pursuit and the importance of staying alert to him cutting runs back against the grain.”
The Dark Horse offense will need to strike early to get the Wildcat defense off balance. Bunn has allowed their opponents to score 21 points per game on average this season, so it would seem there are opportunities for Clinton to break out and put some points on the board. Coach Lewis commented on the Wildcat defense, adding “they are not as big as High Point Andrews was but they have pretty good size and will hit us hard. If we can get out and score early that will really help our chances.”
Possibly the greatest obstacle for the Dark Horses to overcome this week is guarding against a let down after their big win last week. When asked how his team will avoid coming out flat Lewis said, “there is not a magic formula for doing that other than the fact that these guys know what is going on here. You have to do a lot of talking to make them understand how important it is to make sure you stay sharp. They have talked all year about unfinished business and that sort of thing so I think they really understand the urgency of the situation. At this point in the season if we come out flat I would be more surprised than anyone.”
If the Dark Horses can avoid the let down and the defense can reign in the shifty Perry it should take the Wildcats out of their comfort zone and force them to pass more than they would like. Look for the Clinton defense to force a couple of turnovers and give the offense a chance to put up some early points. Ryheem Skinner and his backfield mates, Rayquan Faison and Tyion Wright, look to have a big game running behind an improving offensive line. The Horses will pull away in the second half to seal the win and send Clinton to yet another state title tilt next Saturday in Raleigh.
Prediction: Clinton 42 – Bunn 28