At least the wait is over.

At least the wait is over.

McGehee coach Marcus Haddock admitted he and his staff were climbing the walls at times last week, as the Owls (9-1) sat out the first round of the class 4A playoffs thanks to the bye week that came with winning the 8-4A Conference championship.

Last week marked the first time Haddock had ever gone through a playoff bye week as a head coach, and he admitted the days off helped his team from a battery-recharging standpoint. With one of the smallest rosters of any Class 4A team left in the post-season, arguably no team needed downtime more than McGehee.

“This is the first time since we played Hamburg that we’ve got all 28 troops saddled up and ready to go,” Haddock said.

That specifically includes junior Layne Miles, who will provide depth on both sides of the line after breaking his arm earlier in the season. But while the bye week healed some bruises, it also led to a slow start of practice this week.

“We had to definitely knock some dust off,” Haddock said. “But after a little attention-getter, we got them back on track.”

Yet Clarksville, McGehee’s second round opponent, will also likely hold the Owls’ attention.

The Panthers (5-6) won a 42-35 shoot-out with Lonoke in the first round, and did so displaying looks McGehee hadn’t seen much of this season.

“They do a lot of different things,” Haddock said. “Warren’s going to line up in the Spread, and they’ll run a Spread-type offense. Hamburg will line up in the single wing and run a single wing-type offense. These guys will do things differently. They’ll line up in the shotgun, but it could be with two tight ends, one tight end, four receivers, two running backs — anything.”

Haddock said Clarksville’s multiple looks are even tougher to defend because Panthers coach Michael Banning runs a no-huddle offense. So not only is Clarksville unpredictable, but fast. And while the Owls have been outsized up front for most of the season, the Panthers will have a size advantage in the skill positions as well.

“They are pretty good sized lads,” Haddock said. “They have a receiver who’s 6-foot-4 and played for them in the state basketball championship last season. Jonesboro Westside had no answer for him. He caught every pass in the county.”

The Panthers will be traveling far out of their own county to get to McGehee, with Clarksville sitting in the state’s western area roughly 35 minutes north of Russellville. That makes getting to McGehee something of a trip, but Haddock said long bus rides aren’t always the disadvantage they seem to be.

“On Friday nights, if we’re playing at home, I get my kids at 2:30 p.m.,” Haddock said. “An away game like this, you get your kids at 9 a.m. That’s extra time to get prepared.”