Cavaliers open SMAC play at Kings Mtn.

Sep. 13, 2013 @ 05:26 AM

Losing three late leads and starting a season 0-3 is rough for any team. The East Rutherford Cavaliers (0-3) have the chance to wipe the slate clean and start conference play with a win tonight as they travel to Kings Mountain (2-1).

"We've had a great week of practice," East Rutherford head coach Clint Bland said. "I think we're more focused than we have been in the past three games and hopefully that will mean a different outcome Friday night."

And according to Bland, expect to see plenty of fast play tonight in Cleveland County.

"I think overall they have some very good athletes," Bland said of the Mountaineers. "They have good skills and lineman. Even defensively they have great athleticism. They play quick and fast."

When the Cavaliers defense is on the field, Bland might mistake the Kings Mountain offense as his own.

"On offense they like to do what I like to do and throw screens, throw it downfield and hand it off to good running backs," Bland said. "They run the ball very well. If we could run the ball the way that they run on video, I don't believe we would throw the ball at all, we'd just turn around and hand it off."

To counteract the explosive Kings Mountain running game, Bland hopes to keep them outside of the boundaries.

"We just have to keep the ball away from them," Balnd said. "Our best defense right now is our offense. We need to have long drives and keep their offense off the field."

The Cavalier offense is looking to go more exclusively to the spread formation, but Bland said he would revert to the I-formation if a situation calls for some tough yards.

"The coaching staff has agreed that we're better in the spread so we're leaning that way," Bland said. "We want to see if we can run the ball and establish the run, but if we can't then we'll have to get the ball to our playmakers."

One key playmaker for the Cavaliers won't be available as WR Griffin Stamey is nursing a knee injury and will miss a second consecutive game after sitting out the Tuscola loss.

The absence of Stamey, the Cavaliers leading receiver, puts an extra load on receivers Kaleb McEntyre, Travis Waldroup-Rodriguez and Will Hollifield.

And when the final whistle blows in Kings Mountain tonight, the Cavaliers hopes that the bad taste of an 0-3 start is washed out of their mouths.

"Put the 0-3 behind us, we've talked about that enough. I don't want the players to forget about it because I know how much it hurts them, but the first conference game needs to be a win," Bland said. "We can come out tomorrow being one of the top teams in the conference at 1-0. We have an eight-game season now."

Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.