The old saying is that sequel is never as good as the original. Lincoln County’s football team hopes that’s not the case.
Lincoln County (9-0) will compete in the Class 2A state semifinals at noon on Saturday, and if that was not a reason in itself to be motivated, its opponent should do the trick. Standing between the Lynx and the state title game is Yerington (7-1), the school that beat them in last season’s state championship.
“Our kids are pretty motivated for that game,” Lincoln County coach Rich Ottley said. “We want them pretty bad.”
The Lynx went 9-1 in the regular season last season and rolled through the first two games of the playoffs before Yerington won the state title with a 21-8 win.
“After the game it was somber, a lot of people were crying” senior fullback Derek Matthews said. “We have been pushing our team way harder this week, just trying to get it through their heads that this game means a lot to us returning guys.”
After what had to be a long offseason, the Lynx are back and arguably even better than last season.
The 2015 Lynx were far from a pass-heavy offense, but would still throw the ball about 10 times a game. This season they have gone to the ground even more, throwing the ball only 32 times in their nine games this year.
“We’re more ground-oriented, but when we do throw it’s normally for a big play,” Ottley said. “We’re not afraid to unleash a couple of passes here and there.”
The numbers back that up. Senior quarterback Cody Thornock has only completed 16 passes this season, but has 472 passing yards and six touchdowns.
“The run game opens the pass game and the pass game opens the run game, they work hand in hand,” Thornock said. “It’s quite awesome.”
While the offense has averaged 44.3 points, the defense has been dominant as well, with four shutouts. Lincoln County has allowed 20 or more points just four times.
. Like many small schools, Lincoln County’s top players see time on both sides of the ball. Thornock plays strong safety, and Matthews plays linebacker.
That’s just fine with them.
“I don’t like taking off any plays,” Thornock said. “I don’t like being on the sidelines.”
Lincoln County has been a staple in the playoffs for years. Since 2000, the Lynx have five league championships, two state titles, were a state runner-up four times and have missed the playoffs only twice.
But their last state championship came in 2005. Saturday they get their shot at redemption against Yerington with a berth in the championship game on the line.
“This week is the most important week,” Thornock said. “We have everything on the line. It’s a rematch, we want to show them who’s boss.”
Contact Justin Emerson at email@example.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.