There’s been no mention of revenge by the Pine Bluff Zebras this week.

There’s been no mention of revenge by the Pine Bluff Zebras this week.

Despite facing an El Dorado team that denied Pine Bluff its first state championship since 1995, the Zebras are not looking back at what could have been and are instead focused on Friday night’s 6A-South showdown.

"It’s a completely different game," said Pine Bluff head coach Bobby Bolding. "Nobody here is talking about (revenge). I haven’t heard the players or the coaches say anything about it. Everyone is just looking ahead to Friday."

It’s undoubtedly easier for Pine Bluff (5-2, 4-0 in 6A-South) to put aside any thoughts of revenge when most of El Dorado’s key contributors from the 31-24 win at War Memorial Stadium have since graduated.

Quarterback Clayton Waldrum, the game’s most valuable player, is gone. Wide receiver Ty Owens and running back Jaqualoyn Willis are also at college. Standout defensive lineman Bijhon Jackson is playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Even with those weapons no longer at their disposal, the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) still pose problems for the Zebras.

"Their quarterback (Kawon Love) is getting better every week," Bolding said. "… They always find a running back that can play. Their D-line is as good, if not better, than last year. Their linebackers are solid, too.

"It should be a pretty good matchup at the line of scrimmage."

In the two matchups last season, Pine Bluff dominated up front in the regular season meeting, despite losing 21-14, but El Dorado controlled the line in the state title game.

"That’s always a deciding factor," Bolding said of the line of scrimmage. "We played really well the first time, but lost because of turnovers.

"In the state championship game, we played well again, but we just weren’t able to sustain some drives. That really hurt us, especially in the second half.

"But I’m looking forward to seeing both lines going up against each other."

The two teams enter Friday’s matchup, which will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Jordan Stadium, knowing the turnover battle could be a determining factor. It certainly proved to be in last year’s game at El Dorado.

"We had seven turnovers, five fumbles and two interceptions, and allowed a kickoff return touchdown," Bolding said. "That pretty much decided the game. Then earlier this year we had six (turnovers) against (Fort Smith) Northside.

"On offense, we want them to take care of the football. On defense, we just want them to be where they need to be. If a ball’s on the ground or just floating through the air, we need to take advantage.

"If we just worry about us, we’ll have a chance in the turnover battle."

A victory, by whatever means, will have Pine Bluff sitting pretty in the 6A-South race, but Bolding pointed out the game likely carries more weight for El Dorado, which has already suffered one conference defeat.

"We haven’t really talked about the playoffs," Bolding said. "But I think for El Dorado it’s crucial for them, because that would give them two (conference) losses. So their back is kind of up against the wall.

"We really control our fate at this point. If we play our kind of football and be disciplined, we’ll continue to control our own fate."