By I.C. Murrell
By I.C. Murrell
COMMERCIAL SPORTS EDITOR
WHITE HALL — Hot Springs Lakeside coach Jared McBride got rid of the video from his team’s 26-3 home victory against White Hall in their season opener.
Why? The White Hall that Lakeside will visit tonight isn’t the same from Week 1.
“It’s like playing a whole new ball team,” McBride said. “We can’t use any of the old footage. We just have to prepare for whatever they bring.”
White Hall coach Mike Vaughn said he had no idea at the start of the season the Bulldogs and Rams would meet again in the playoffs. Running back Tim Cook doesn’t hide the fact the Bulldogs have wanted a rematch.
“I’ve been anxious to play them because they beat us that one time,” he said. “I’m just anxious like I was (against archrival Watson) Chapel.”
The 5A-Southeast champion Bulldogs (8-3) bring eight straight victories and much more offense to the table with their spread set. They’ve scored more than 32 points in each victory.
“The first three games, we all stuck together still and worked it out,” Cook said. “We’re playing harder than we did that first game, and we won’t have first-game nervousness anymore.”
In last Friday’s 37-20 win over Blytheville, White Hall racked up 295 total yards, having to overcome dropped passes and missed chances to capitalize on successful onside kicks in the early going. But Hayden Hodges pulled down two touchdown catches, Cook ran for a TD and returned a fumble for another and Jeremy Sprinkle caught five passes for 101 yards and a score.
McBride said White Hall puts teams in a bind by taking up space on the field. Don’t expect Vaughn to change the passing attack.
“We’re going to throw the football a lot, like we always do,” Vaughn said. “We’ve got to throw and catch the football well.”
Quarterback Nathan Lee was 10 of 22 for 151 yards against Blytheville.
One key for the White Hall defense will be to slow down senior multi-position standout Ajalen Holley, who has about 1,000 yards rushing, 400 receiving and 250 returning on the season, McBride estimated. White Hall forced Blytheville quarterback Langston Jenkins into throwing four interceptions and held him to 154 yards and a touchdown passing. Jenkins had 30 running and passing TDs going into the game.
Lakeside also will look to let junior Garrett Garnett and sophomore Blake Lawless pound the rock, with senior center Andrew Morton leading the line.
“We have to play better defense, lock down all their players and just play great ball,” said Cook, also a linebacker.
The Rams’ defense, led by Harlan Jones’ 100 tackles and fellow senior linebacker Houston Hunter’s 95, will try their hand at the Bulldog offense.
Lakeside broke a long drought in postseason play with last Friday’s 41-14 victory over Alma. It was the Rams’ first playoff victory in 36 years.
White Hall is looking for its first trip to the semifinal round since 1991, when it fell to eventual champion Newport.
“We just want to redeem ourselves (from Week 1), get our name out there,” White Hall running back Terrance Warren said. “They still think we suck. When we win this game, it’s going to be like amazing.”