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Bears maul Pirates, 23-14

Though he didn’t know it would end in a 23-14 victory for his team, West Lincoln head coach BJ Smithhart was realistically optimistic about Friday night’s matchup against the Mount Olive Pirates.

When the Bears jogged off the field at the close of last week’s Lincoln County Football Jamboree they had gotten a taste of both victory and defeat. A 7-6 win over Bogue Chitto didn’t feel so good that a 0-8 shut out loss to Enterprise didn’t sting.

Smithhart assessed his guys, saying they had a long way to go, especially with a lot of new talent. But he was happy with what he saw, also.

“I think we’ll be OK,” he said. “We had a lot of character tested and I think we’ll grow for it. So I think we’ll do well this season.”

The Bears opened last season against Mount Olive, as well, losing by 8 points with home field advantage — something they did not have Friday night. But they didn’t need it.

The boys in green and white won by 9.

Mistakes Smithhart had hoped to avoid against the Pirates included racking up the penalties and his ball carriers not being able to keep hands on the rock.

The Bears looked to lean on running back Michael Brothern as the “go-to when it’s crunch time,” Smithhart said. Brothern and Enrico Price carried that burden evenly, doing the largest amount of yard work over the course of the game.

“The offensive line as a unit just did a great job,” Smithhart said. “We won by just gritting it out, playing an early tough game and just seeing who could stay there the longest (and) outlast the other.”

In the second game of a season that repeats 2017 nearly game-for-game, West Lincoln will host Salem next week as they look for a repeat of last year’s 2:1 domination over the Wildcats. To do that, Smithhart said they’ll have to focus on conditioning and keep doing a good job carrying the ball.

“We’ve got to figure out some more ways to score and move the ball,” he said. “We need to keep working there and just kind of shore up all the regular first game things.”