The Dollarway Cardinals are in an unfamiliar position.
The Dollarway Cardinals are in an unfamiliar position.
"We’ve put a lot of the situations that occurred in that game behind us," head coach Cortez Lee said of last week’s loss to Star City. "We’ve had a good week of practice… and we’re going to correct all the things we need to correct."
Dollarway (6-2, 4-1 in 8-4A) is coming off its first conference loss since 2012, snapping a win streak at 13 consecutive games.
After a tough loss, it’s been noted that some teams come out feeling dejected instead of coming out focused, but Lee said that will not happen tonight at Yarbrough Field in Crossett.
"We have assessed the situation," said Lee. "We talk about those things and we just put it behind us. You can’t relive the past, and that’s something we have learned from, and I just told those guys … put that (loss) behind us and move on and worry about our next opponent."
Dollarway’s next opponent is a team it’s had success against in the past. Crossett (5-3, 3-2) and Dollarway met in a nonconference matchup last year in horrendous rainy conditions with the Cardinals winning handily 36-0. Lee said tonight’s contest will be much different.
"They seem to be more improved," Lee said of the Eagles. "They have more playmakers. We’ll have to make sure we are in tune with the things they do well and most importantly, play our game."
Dollarway still has a chance to win the 8-4A title if it can win its final two games against Crossett and Warren. Lee said the team is focusing on one game at a time.
"We still have an opportunity to write our own story if we go out and handle our business," Lee stated. "We’re going to go it one game at a time. We’re about Friday night, opposed to worrying about the next two weeks. We just need to stay focused on the job at hand."
Hamburg at Warren
Warren coach Bo Hembree knows another 8-4A title is in the immediate future if the Lumberjacks can take care of business, and it starts tonight against an improved Hamburg team.
"They got a lot of speed," Hembree said. "They’ll be the fastest team we have played up to this point. They have (Tramon Savage) who is the quarterback who transferred in and he makes them a whole different football team."
Savage and Hamburg (6-2, 4-1 in 8-4A) are fresh off a 43-13 blowout win over Crossett in which Savage tossed two touchdowns and added two more scores on the ground. Hembree said the key will be trying to slow down Savage.
"He gives them an element they haven’t had in the last few years," Hembree said of Savage. "He’s going to be tough to defend and we have to make sure we tackle him."
History is on the side of the Lumberjacks as they have defeated the Lions in 14 of the past 15 meetings, with Hamburg’s last win against Warren coming in 2009. Warren (6-2, 5-0) also has a hefty 21-conference game win streak on the line.
Hembree said that maintaining focus on one game at a time will be important in finishing their goal for another conference title.
"Our kids our mature and understand," Hembree said. "They have the experience and have been here and done this before. They understand how big this week is. It’s going to be a tough battle (tonight) and it will be a war."
Star City at DeWitt
The Star City Bulldogs (6-2, 3-2 in 8-4A) had a big win against Dollarway last week. Despite that, the Bulldogs can only finish as high as the No. 2 seed in the 8-4A conference.
"We’ve told our kids you have to be good late," head coach Jett Furneaux said. "To win the whole thing, you have to be able to beat the best. It doesn’t matter what seed you get, you just have to be playing really good football when the playoffs get here."
The Bulldogs suffered losses to Warren and Hamburg on their path to an 8-4A title, but Furneaux said he has been proud with the way the kids have responded.
"Our kids have done a good job of bouncing back after two tough losses," said Furneaux. "The win at Dumas and to get the huge win against Dollarway, it’s too late in the year to have any setbacks."
Star City shouldn’t suffer any setback against a DeWitt squad coming off its first conference win since 2013. However, despite DeWitt’s (2-6, 1-4) records, Furneaux said his team will not over look anybody.
"DeWitt’s a well-coached football team," Furneaux said. "Coach (Steven) Jones does a great job with those guys. They still have something to play for. Our kids have to go to DeWitt and not get caught in any type of trap game. We just have to play our football and get better at what we do."
Rison at Strong
The Rison Wildcats are looking to claim the No. 2 seed in the 8-2A after a big 43-36 win last week over the Bearden Bears that saw 11 lead changes in the game.
Rison (7-1, 4-1 in 8-2A) currently sits tied at second place with the Woodlawn Bears. The Wildcats will stay at the No. 2 seed in the 8-2A if they can win out against Strong (3-5, 2-4) and Woodlawn, with only a chance at first place if Junction City were to fall.
In last week’s victory over Bearden, the Wildcats rushed for 339 yards with junior Bryson Marks carrying the load with 33 carries for 225 yards and three TDs.
Rison defeated Strong 30-24 in last year’s meeting.
Rison head coach Clay Totty was unavailable for comment.
Junction City at Woodlawn
The Bears face a monumental challenge tonight against a team that has won 34 games in a row.
"They are by far the best team in 2A," head coach Zach Branch said. "You could probably argue that they could win the 3A or 4A as well."
The team Branch is referring to is, of course, the Junction City Dragons. Junction City (7-0, 6-0 in 8-2A) has been rolling over its opponents this year with the closest contest being a 33-19 victory over 6-3A Smackover in its first game of the season.
"I expect to see a very physical and very fast team that executes," Branch said of Junction City. "If you try to cover the pass too much or put too much emphasis on it, they will run it on you. They have the total package and it’s going to be team speed like we haven’t seen all year."
Woodlawn and Branch understand they are a huge underdog in the upcoming match as the Bears have never defeated the Dragons. Branch said it would be huge to upset the Dragons.
"It would probably be one of the greatest upsets of all time," said Branch. "We would have to play flawless and score every time we had the ball. They would have to turn the ball over and just play very uncharacteristic football. If we can have any success at all, that’s what we are looking for."
Regardless of the outcome tonight, Woodlawn (6-2, 4-1) has already locked a spot in the 2A playoffs, a feat it has only done twice in school history and the first time since 2009. Branch said it’s a great feeling to know they are already in the postseason.
"It was huge," Branch said of locking up a playoff spot. "That was one of our goals. Last year, we just wanted to be competitive. This year, we wanted to take the next step and make the playoffs and luckily we’ve done that."
Fordyce at Camden Harmony Grove
Head coach Tim Rodgers and the Fordyce Redbugs have turned their season around after starting
the year 0-3.
"I think playing those (bigger) schools kind of helped us get ready for our conference," Rodgers said. "We were used to playing teams bigger than us and better than us, so they helped us as far as getting prepared."
Fordyce (4-4, 4-1 in 6-3A) will try to keep the momentum going as it faces Camden Harmony Grove (2-6, 2-3) tonight for a chance to increase its standings in the conference race. Rodgers said he expects tonight’s match to be much different than last year’s 32-6 shellacking of the Hornets.
"I don’t expect a game like last year," Rodgers stated. "Last year’s game was just kind of odd. They had a lot of turnovers and a lot of mistakes that they hadn’t done against us in over three years. I’m not expecting that this year."
A main reason for the Fordyce turnaround has been the emergence of its running game. Fordyce has rushed around 280 yards on average this year in its four conference game wins. Rodgers said it’s a tribute to the hard work the players have done.
"We’ve gotten better blocking up front," said Rodgers. "One thing we have done in our conference games is given the ball to Jakeymes Gates a lot. I think he has had about 600 or 700 yards over the last few weeks and scored over 10 or 11 touchdowns. Also, Keon Jackson and Caleb Hartgen, those guys have been helping out a lot this year in rushing."
The Redbugs still have a realistic chance of winning the 6-3A title depending on results of other games. Rodgers said they will maintain their focus on each matchup.
"We can still finish anywhere from first to fourth," Rodgers said. "If we take care of businesses and win our games, anything can happen in the last two weeks."
Smackover at McGehee
The McGehee Owls are facing a pivotal situation tonight in regards to the current standings of the 6-3A conference.
"Both sides know it," McGehee head coach Marcus Haddock said of the importance in tonight’s contest. "Smackover is an outstanding team. They have a lot of kids. I think they are dressing out 61."
McGehee (6-2, 5-0 in 6-3A) will look to stay undefeated in conference when it faces the Smackover Buckaroos (7-1, 5-0) in a crucial game that could ultimately decide the winner of the conference championship. The Buckaroos are the defending 6-3A champions.
The Owls squeaked by the Buckaroos 20-14 in last year’s match. In the game, junior Kaion Parker rushed 23 times for 175 yards and intercepted a pass to set up a crucial score.
"I’ve slept since then," Haddock said with a laugh when asked about last year’s game. "It started off with us getting a gift. We returned an interception back to the 5-yard line on their first possession. We aren’t going to count on that this year."
Both teams are coming off blowout wins as McGehee handled Lake Village Lakeside 57-7 and Smackover smacked Camden Harmony Grove 51-6.
The Owls will have their hands full with the Buckaroos offense that averages a healthy 367 yards and 42 points a game. Smackover’s top running back, Dewayne Jones, has over 450 yards and six scores to his name, while quarterback Logan Clark has an effective 44 of 79 completions for 931 yards and 14 TDs.
Haddock said tonight’s match at Rex Benton Stadium will be a battle and could determine a lot at the end of the night.
"Whichever kids can stay in their game plan and execute it and not have turnovers should be the conference champion."
Dumas at Monticello
The Monticello Billies are still looking for their first conference win under first-year head coach Marty Davis, and he knows there’s a good chance it could come soon.
"I still feel real good about our team," Davis said. "Our kids continue to play hard despite things not going in their favor. I think in this last two weeks, we have a better chance than we did in the last few weeks."
Monticello (2-6, 0-5) and Dumas (1-7, 0-5) are both looking for their first conference win, so something will have to give after tonight’s matchup. Monticello and Dumas fought to a 24-17 game in overtime last year with the Billies emerging victorious.
Dumas hasn’t gone winless in conference since 2005, and Monticello hasn’t finished winless in conference since 1990. When Davis was made aware of that history, he started to chuckle.
"Well, I hope we don’t break that streak, he said. "But again, our expectations were a lot better this season than where we are now. The thought of not winning a conference game, that wasn’t a part of it."
A tall task for the Billies will be trying to contain Dumas’ tight end Will Gragg. Gragg, who is verbally committed to the University of Arkansas, is a matchup problem according to Davis.
"As far as game-planning, we are going to try and do what we’ve done in the past," Davis said. "Whenever you go against a standout player, you try not to give everything towards him because it opens other opportunities for the other guys."
Dumas head coach Mark Courtney was unavailable for comment.
Fouke at Drew Central
The Drew Central Pirates (0-8, 0-5 in 63A) now sit at 40 straight losses overall and they have another challenge awaiting them in the Fouke Panthers. Fouke (4-4, 2-3) won 47-8 last year.
Drew Central fell to Fordyce 38-8 last week, while Fouke took care of Genoa Central 28-7.
According to Hootens.com, Fouke is ranked 24th in 3A while Drew Central sits in last place at 48th.
Firstyear head coach Steven Moore was unavailable for comment.
The Pirates and the Panthers are set to meet tonight at 7 at Convoy Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium.