For the second time in three weeks, the Pine Bluff Zebras will face a team that's a step up in classification. This week, it's the Har-Ber Wildcats of the 7A West conference.
Pine Bluff Head Coach Bobby Bolding methodically schedules his non-conference slate in order to prepare his team for the conference season, and it's indicative by the level of competition they face.
The Zebras will go into their third game of the season with a zero in the win column as they finished in a 14-14 tie with the Watson Chapel Wildcats last week in a game that had to be stopped at halftime due to lightning.
They lost in week one to Cabot 35-14.
Although they haven't officially cracked that win column, Bolding says it's been business as usual.
"We practice like we always do," Bolding said. "We're trying to fix mistakes we've been making. I'm pleased, and we got a little bit better each day."
Injuries, inexperience and youth have taken a toll on the Zebras early this season, but according to Bolding, he can still see his players buying into how he does things, and with time they, he believes they should be just fine.
Har-Ber Head Coach Chris Wood has an all-time record of 97-50 with the Wildcats. One of those losses came at the hands of Pulaski Academy in their season opener 50-14. Last week, the Wildcats bounced back to beat Russellville 27-7, so they'll be riding winning momentum heading into their matchup with the Zebras.
On defense, Har-Ber runs a 3-4 scheme, but that's what Pine Bluff has become accustomed to as they saw it week one against Cabot, and they see it throughout conference play as well.
"That's what we've seen every week, except for last week," Bolding said. "It's what we see a lot. They're technically sound, and they don't play both ways. Their kids play one sport: football. We have to execute what we do and be disciplined on defense."
Har-Ber junior quarterback Blaise Wittschen has completed 13/30 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns through two games. Junior running back Max Pena has been their go-to guy on the ground, carrying the ball 30 times for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
One overall advantage that Bolding thinks the Zebras could have is speed, but that won't be determined until the whistle blows.
"They execute very well," Bolding said of Har-Ber. "They do all the little bitty things right. We're going to have to match that and hope we have a little advantage speed wise."
Kickoff between Har-Ber and Pine Bluff is set for 7 p.m. at Jordan Stadium.