By Todd Hummel
The Daily Item
HUGHESVILLE — Forgive Lewisburg coach Jeremy Winn for having a sense of déjà vu this week.
In almost a carbon-copy of the 2012 season, the Green Dragons began the 2013 season with a turnover- filled win over Towanda and a second-week loss to Mount Carmel.
And, once again, Winn is left wondering which way Lewisburg’s season will go headed into a Heartland Athletic Conference crossover game with Hughesville.
“We were in the same situation last year. We go in two directions,” Winn said. “It can be like last season and we turn it around, but we have to get tougher.”
Also like last season, some Lewisburg returnees are still adjusting to new roles for the Green Dragons.
“We had enough guys back, but a lot of them are in new positions,” Winn said. “Brandon (Smith) was in the same boat last year and it took him to about week 3 to become comfortable at fullback.”
There are two things that Winn points to that Lewisburg must improve on heading to Spartan Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday night — toughness up front and special teams.
The Green Dragons struggled to run the ball in the 30-14 victory, netting most of their 54 yards on the final two drives when the game was already out of reach.
On the special teams’ side, Lewisburg had a punt blocked in the end zone after a poor snap and gave Mount Carmel good field position on a scoring drive with good returns.
“We watched the film (Monday night) and we’ve got to play tougher. The one plus about playing a team like Mount Carmel early is that they can expose some of your weaknesses,” Winn said. “We’ve got to get tougher in the offensive line and do a better job with our assignments. Special teams are another thing in which we take pride in and that was another disappointment to us.” The Green Dragons will face a different Hughesville team this week than the one they’ve beaten by a combined score of 119-28 over the past three seasons. The Spartans are much improved despite not having anything to show for it.
Hughesville enters the contest 0-2, but lost by a point to Central Columbia in its opener and were tried with Bloomsburg headed to fourth quarter, before the Panthers scored three unanswered touchdowns.
“We have had opportunities in the first two games to come out with victories. Obviously we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities,” Hughesville coach Andy Brown said. “I think there is frustration that we didn’t get it done.”
However, Brown things his Spartans are ready to bounce back because of the steps his players took in the offseason to get better.
“Our players know that we are close to being a successful team, but we have to clean some things up on our end in order to get there,” Brown said. “The work our kids put in during the offseason is a big factor. We are playing with a competitive edge and fire that was missing from a year ago.”
Brown also sees plenty of improvement on the defensive side of the ball from a squad that allowed 35.6 points per game a year ago.
“Defensively we have been better. We have tackled better and have won the turnover battle in each of the first two games,” Brown said.