The Pine Bluff football team begins the 7A/6A South Conference schedule a week after getting pummeled by North Little Rock 47-10, the Zebras only loss of the season so far.

The Pine Bluff football team begins the 7A/6A South Conference schedule a week after getting pummeled by North Little Rock 47-10, the Zebras only loss of the season so far.

Even though the Zebras (2-1) got thumped last Friday, coach Bobby Bolding said that has not slowed down his players as they prepare to travel to Texarkana (1-2) today.

“We didn’t have any trouble at all and our kids have responded great,” he said. “We had our best Monday and Tuesday practice and we had a good practice on Wednesday.”

Bolding said the main reason the team has been able to bounce back so well is because the support it received during the North Little Rock game.

Despite the wet conditions, there was a good contingent of Pine Bluff fans who stayed throughout the game, and Bolding said the players noticed that.

“We had a really good crowd that sat through the rain and they kept cheering,” he said. “That hadn’t always been the case and it really was then. It really helped us as a football program because of the support, it kind of inspired us as coaches and players.”

Bolding added that the team had a good amount of support when the Zebras traveled to Fort Smith for the first game of the year, and he is hoping for the same thing for the 2 hour, 45 minute trip to Texarkana.

“It’s a pretty good haul downs there, and we had a good haul when we went to Fort Smith,” he said. “So I expect a pretty good crew, I hope so anyway.”

The crowd support will be important since the first game of the conference season could be crucial for Pine Bluff.

“It’s huge and we need to do whatever we can to start 1-0 in conference and be on top of the standings,” Bolding said. “They are very athletic. We have to go down there and they are going to throw everything at us but the kitchen sink.”

Pine Bluff is high in the standings in Class 6A currently. The Zebras are ranked No. 6 in 6A by Hootens.com, behind only unbeaten Greenwood.

A 1-0 start in the conference is important since the Zebras play Bryant at home the following week and then take on Lake Hamilton, the No. 5 team in 6A. Two weeks later, three-time defending champion El Dorado comes to town to take on Pine Bluff.

Texarkana is 1-2 and ranked No. 9 in the 16-team class, but the Razorbacks two losses have come to Texas schools.

“They’ve played two Texas teams, so it’s kind of hard to gauge looking at them,” Bolding said. “They look extremely fast and they have really good athletes.”

From what Bolding has seen from the film, Texarkana throws the ball quite a bit so he said the Zebras have to keep the Razorbacks running game in check.

“Make them one dimensional and then get to the quarterback with different rush packages,” he said. “Get people in his face and force him to make some bad throws.”

That is almost the same game-plan Pine Bluff had against Watson Chapel and the Zebras intercepted three passes and returned two for touchdowns in the 48-12 win two weeks ago.

“We are kind of built defensively to play spread teams,” Bolding said. “That should help us a little bit and we just have to be really smart about mixing up our coverage.”

The important part to today’s game, which starts at 7 p.m., is the fact that the Zebras are healthy for the game.

“We wanted to get through those three nonconference games healthy and with a winning record, and we did that,” Bolding said.