Last week, the Dollarway Cardinals picked up their first win since the 2016 season. But first-year Head Coach Martese Henry isn't content at all with that win, and the players aren't either. According to Henry, after last week's win, the sense of urgency picked up.
This week, the Cardinals will welcome in the McGehee Owls, led by Head Coach Marcus Haddock. The Owls are coming off of an 11-win season, and prior to this season, they were viewed as the creme of the crop in the 6-3A conference.
Henry and the Cardinals know what the Owls will bring to the table, and they've been preparing for it all week in practice.
"They responded pretty well," Henry said. "There's even been a little more urgency. We're still working on the focus aspect. You have to stay focused on what's at hand and what's at stake. For the most part, it was a solid week of preparation."
Cardinals junior quarterback Terrance Brown has taken full control of the offense. They've been able to implement different wrinkles that Henry wants to add to the offensive schemes that Dollarway ran in the past.
"We're still adding in modifications," Henry said. "We want to be able to add and, at the same time, do things that they have success with. We might throw out some different things tomorrow night as well."
Defensive Coordinator Tyson Gibbs was instrumental in their success on that side of the ball in their 20-14 overtime win over Lake Village's Lakeside last week. Gibbs decided to up the physicality of practice prior to last week's game and, according to Henry, it paid off.
Henry said he expects the defense to only get better from this point forward.
"The defense was huge last week for us," Henry said. "Kudos to Coach Gibbs for making practice a lot more physical. Hopefully, we can build off of it. There's an old saying that defense wins championships. We're trying to hang our hats on our defense. They've improved tremendously."
Haddock has posted an overall record of 70-50 since being the head coach at McGehee. During that time, he's fully established his program. Henry has respect for what they do and how they do it.
"Coach Haddock runs a real tough-nose program," Henry said. "They are pretty much a smashmouth team. They will run it right at you and play solid defense. They won't make a lot of mistakes to beat themselves."
On offense, the Owls are run-oriented, and they have a stable of backs that they like to utilize.
"It's a team concept, and no one particular guy stands out for them," Henry said. "They're O-line does a good job of firing off the ball. They use a multitude of running backs, and overall they just have a solid team."
The most that the Owls' defense has given up this year in one game is 16 points, and they've held teams to single-digit scores in three out of their five games.
"Their defense is sound," Henry said. "They don't give up too many points. Third down conversions will be big for us, we must execute and eliminate our mistakes on first downs."
Kickoff between Dollarway and McGehee is set for 7 p.m.
White Hall's homecoming
After a four-game road skid, the White Hall Bulldogs are at Bulldog Stadium tonight for their first home game of the season. It’s also homecoming. The Bulldogs will play host to the Beebe Badgers at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs scored 43 points in the first half of their game last week against J.A. Fair. Five different players scored a touchdown offensively, and Tristen Evatt scored two touchdowns defensively for White Hall as well. They would later win 50-0.
Beebe comes into Bulldog Stadium with a 1-1 conference record after their first conference last week.
Beebe defeated Watson Chapel last week 31-22 after coming from behind and scoring 17 unanswered second-half points. Senior Taylor Boyce rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the win against Watson Chapel.
The Badgers run their offense out of the Dead-T formation, and on defense, they stick to a 3-4. Beebe is under the leadership of longtime head coach John Shannon. The Bulldogs are led by Mike Vaughn.
PB travels to Jonesboro
Since making the jump in classification from the 6A South to the 6A East, the Pine Bluff Zebras have had two conference clashes with the Jonesboro Hurricane. Tonight the Zebras will be in Hurricane territory as they look to stay unbeaten in conference play and deliver Jonesboro their first conference loss.
In 2016 at Jonesboro, the Hurricane beat the Zebras 41-34. In 2017, Pine Bluff responded with a 48-34 win at Jordan Stadium.
Pine Bluff Head Coach Bobby Bolding said Jonesboro will present an attack that his youthful defense hasn't quite seen yet.
"This is going to be a little bit different creature," Bolding said. "They have guys on the outside who can put pressure on you in their passing game, and they're talented. They do a good job of spreading you out and getting those athletes in space."
The Pine Bluff defense has only given up 12 combined points in their past two games, and Bolding says he can see the progression. However, with Jonesboro having the weapons they have, the Zebras' defense will take a more schematic approach this week.
"We're trying to match them schematically more than anything," Bolding said. "We have to put our kids in a position on that side of the ball where they can be successful. We just have to be right with our eyes. Earlier in the year, we had problems with that, but we've gotten better as the year has gone on. Some of our players just needed time to improve, and they're getting better."
Jonesboro's offense has been conducted by sophomore quarterback Cross Jumper, who has completed 60/108 passes for 1102 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Jumper also leads the team in rushing and has two rushing touchdowns on the season.
Along with all the talent they have at their skill positions, they're led up front on their offensive line by Auburn commit Darius Thomas.
"I think they're very gifted at all the skill positions," Bolding said. "They have a lot of speed. They brought back some key offensive lineman, and those receivers go get the ball."
Pine Bluff junior Shauwn Howell will get his second start of the season after junior Tyler Foots went down with an injury. Last week, Howell earned Pine Bluff Commercial Player of the Week honors by completing 13/16 passes, for 208 yards and five touchdowns in his first career start. As for this week in practice, nothing's changed with Howell, and Bolding said the quarterback is ready for the task at hand.
"Looked liked Howell," Bolding said of Howell's week at practice. "He works hard and does a good job of reading coverages. We have to give him a chance to be successful. We did it last week and he took advantage."
The battle in the trenches will be one to look forward to as Pine Bluff's newly-built offensive line will take on Jonesboro's physical front seven.
"They're really good up front defensively," Bolding said. "They were last year, and a lot of those guys are back. We have a re-built O-line who's getting better every week. We're going to have to be physical."
The Hurricane and Zebras are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff in Jonesboro.
Watson Chapel hosting LR Parkview
The Watson Chapel Wildcats are hoping for their first conference win of the season tonight as they play host to the Little Rock Parkview Patriots.
This is just the third time the two teams have played against each other.
The Wildcats are coming off their second consecutive loss against Beebe. Watson Chapel led at halftime 22-14 but allowed Beebe to score 17 unanswered second-half points, causing them to fall short 31-22.
Junior quarterback Devin Curry threw three touchdowns for 160 yards and rushed for 162 yards also in the loss. Junior athlete Kevin Compton caught two of Curry's touchdown passes and intercepted a pass on defense for his seventh interception of the season.
Despite the loss last week, the Wildcats totaled 405 offensive yards while allowing 310 yards to Beebe.cParkview lost their first three games and have won the last two games, making them unbeaten in conference.
In their game last week against Maumelle, Parkview finished with 448 yards of offense, including 407 on the ground. Senior Geary Allmon ran for 202 yards of the total and two TDs against Maumelle.