Wheatland visits as Lincoln seeks first win

Friday’s game is Lincoln’s Homecoming
By: Chayla Furlong Special to The News Messenger
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Homecoming is on the way to Lincoln High, which can only mean one thing for the Zebras: a win would be extra special. Lincoln will host the Wheatland Pirates at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the Zebras are spending a tough week at practice preparing for whatever the Pirates might throw their way. The Zebras are looking to redeem themselves after their disappointing season-opening loss to the Woodland Wolves last week. Wheatland (2-0), which has already beaten Oroville and Marysville this season, completed the 2007 season ranked second in the Butte View League with an overall record of 9-3 and a league record of 4-1. Wheatland topped Lincoln 32-20 last season. But Lincoln (0-1) is looking to even the score and prove itself in front of the home crowd in its second game. The team is confident they will have a better showing this week. “Wheatland is a running team,” said Lincoln’s Matt Paul, who starts offensively as a running back and defensively as a middle linebacker. “They try to pound the ball and we’re good at stopping that.” His teammates think that learning from the game last week will make them better prepared for this week. “I think we could have worked together a bit better (last week), but it was the first game and we needed to work some things out,” Lincoln’s Ray Lyons said. Lyons, who rushed 50 yards in the first game, thinks the team will bring more heart to Friday’s game and can get a win. Quarterback Tyler Freymond agrees. “Hopefully we can come together as a team and capitalize on the mistakes we made last week, fix them, play our hearts out and come away with a win,” Freymond said. For many players, it will be their last homecoming ever. That makes this night particularly exciting for the seniors, Freymond included. The players admit Wheatland is a strong opponent, but they say they are ready for the challenge. “They are a tough team, they are always a tough team,” Freymond said. “But every team in our league this year is going to be tough and we just have to keep up the good work.” According to Paul his teammates are ready to go for the special night. “Friday is going to be a good game,” he said. “Everyone will be fired up.” The coaching staff is also ready to put game one behind them and focus on game two. Head coach Ken Lowe was confident in the defensive performance last week and hopes to improve on offense this week. “The defense played tough all night,” Lowe said. “We need to take care of the football (this) week.” Of the season as a whole, Lowe says his team is in a tough league, so the Zebras have set up a difficult pre-season schedule to prepare themselves. “We’re going to have to take it one game at a time and hopefully the pieces will come together (Friday) and when we hit league,” Lowe said. The game last week showed the potential of the Lincoln offense. “We moved the ball well between the 20s and for the most part owned the line of scrimmage, but we just couldn’t find the end zone,” Lowe said. Lowe’s comment pretty much summed up the game. Though Lincoln put forth a major defensive effort after Woodland scored two touchdowns within the first three minutes of the game, the offense was not able to compete. With a total of 256 rushing yards and 74 passing yards in the first game, it is a surprise the Zebras were unable to connect with the end zone. In addition to Lyons’ 50 yards, Matt Paul led the offense with a total of 94 rushing yards. Alex Cowden also showed well for the offense, rushing for 49 yards. Rounding up as the fourth-quarter hero was running back Mike Soto with a total of 40 yards. Freymond had a total of 74 passing yards and 24 rushing yards to add to the offense performance. Defense is where Lincoln shined last week. Tyler Rusconi and J.J Castillo played big for the Zebras, as well as Ray Caster. After Woodland returned the opening kickoff for a 60-yard score, the Lincoln offense suffered a penalty that nullified a 75-yard touchdown pass from Freymond to Matthew Holt. Despite the penalty, Lowe feels his offense rebounded well. The players and coaches alike are looking forward to preparing for and moving on to Friday’s game. “I’m proud of our kids, they never gave up,” Lowe said. Junior Varsity Lincoln 34, Woodland 16 Lincoln quarterback Christian Perkins had three touchdown passes, while Tyler Morgan scored four touchdowns and tight end Anthony Latu did a great job blocking on the run. Coach Wayne Paul and his team is looking forward to the homecoming game Friday against Wheatland. “It will be a lot of fun,” he said. Of his season opener, the coach had mostly good things to say. “For the most part we had (some) mistakes, but we didn’t let it get to us,” Paul said. “We were able to counter some of those mistakes and have success. For a first game, I was pleased.”