Hilltoppers host Shelby tonight
After earning their first win of 2013 and snapping a nine-game losing streak, the R-S Central Hilltoppers (1-1) open conference play tonight as they host the Shelby Golden Lions (1-2).
"I'm excited and I think our players are excited," R-S Central head coach Mike Cheek said. "We're going to go out there and give them our best effort. We're excited about last week's win, we watched film of Shelby and we're ready to get back on the field."
Defensively, the Hilltoppers expect a typical high-powered offense usually associated with Shelby.
"The junior quarterback (RJ George) throws the ball well. They're going to score," Cheek said. "We'll need a big game from our defensive backs because they're going to throw it."
And despite running for over 300 yards as a team against Polk County, expect the Hilltoppers to go to the air more often tonight.
"The first three weeks of the season we've really concentrated on throwing the ball because we knew, sooner or later, we would have to," Cheek said. "Against Shelby we're going to have to.
"Against McDowell the weather dictated the style of play and last week at Polk we were dominating the line of scrimmage so why would we throw it up in the air if we don't have to? This week it'll be hard to go 80 or 90 yards on the ground against Shelby."
Quarterback Jay'len Hollis is in his first year as the lone starting quarterback for the Hilltoppers, but he did see action against Shelby last season and went 5-of-7 against the Golden Lions defense in limited action.
According to Cheek, the game will be decided in the trenches.
"Our big thing is if we can stop the big play and control the ball," Cheek said. "It comes down to if our lines match up to their lines."
The speed of the Shelby defensive line raises concerns for the Hilltoppers.
"They have great defensive speed and their down lineman are typical lineman. They're fullbacks and skill guys that put on some weight and can still run," Cheek said. "We need to find out if we can hold onto blocks long enough to make plays. And we're up front with our boys, we told them their line was good."
With a long conference season ahead of them, Cheek just wants his Hilltoppers to keep it simple.
"Really we haven't changed anything this week. We need to do what we do best and hold onto the ball and make the plays when they present themselves," Cheek said. "This is our season right now. Sooner or later we'll upset someone big."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Rutherfordton.