Pine Bluff must replace quarterback Simeon Blair, who accounted for four touchdowns against the Panthers last season. However, the Zebras aren't as sure as Cabot about who their starter will be, Pine Bluff Head Coach Bobby Bolding said.

Last season’s opener ended on an untimed down, as former Cabot quarterback Jarrod Barnes beat the Pine Bluff Zebras’ defense to the left corner of the end zone for a 28-27 Panther victory. The loss marked the first for the Zebras since 2014, and Cabot head coach Mike Malham is sure the Zebras haven’t forgotten. The road loss comes full circle Friday when the teams square off at 7 p.m. at Jordan Stadium in Pine Bluff to open the season.

“Last year, it went down to the last play of the game,” Malham told LonokeNews.net. “So, they are going to remember that. We came out on the right side of that.”

With Barnes now in Fayetteville as a freshman receiver with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Cabot turns to junior quarterback Tommy Oaks. Malham likes the athleticism Oaks presents, but his inexperience is something the team will have to grow through.

“He looked pretty good in the scrimmage,” Malham told LonokeNews.net. “He ran the option well. He’s a pretty good athlete. He just doesn’t have the experience. This is the first year he’s ever taken snaps at quarterback. I thought he had a real good scrimmage. Hopefully, we’ll take care of the ball and not give it away.”

Pine Bluff must replace quarterback Simeon Blair, who accounted for four touchdowns against the Panthers last season. However, the Zebras aren’t as sure as Cabot about who their starter will be, Pine Bluff Head Coach Bobby Bolding said.

“No,” Bolding said when asked have they decided on a starter.

With questions on offense, the Zebras will rely heavily on their experienced defense.

“Most of our defense is back so most of it revolves around them,” Bolding told LonokeNews.net. “We’ve got to match their physicality… And we’ve got to tackle. You’ve got to be disciplined in your run fits.”

Cabot will present a heavy run attack offense out of the Dead-T formation, which features a fullback and two halfbacks. Four players will rotate between the three backfield positions, Malham said. Senior Adam Flores and junior Brad Morales will receive the majority of the touches, while TJ Rogers and Noah Sorrell will also see action.

The Zebras have had multiple practices after last week’s scrimmage against Little Rock Parkview to make adjustments ahead of the opener. Now they’ll have to put their product on the field against an established 7A opponent.

“We’ve had good days and bad days,” Bolding said. “We’re glad to be at the house, and to open against a good quality opponent.”