This past weekend, NFL fans witnessed Manning Bowl III, and this weekend high school football fans can watch the Bolding Brothers Bash V.
Pine Bluff (1-0-1) head coach Bobby Bolding, the older and self-proclaimed “better looking” brother, will take on Brad Bolding and the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats (1-1) at 7 p.m. today at Jordan Stadium.
According to Bobby Bolding, the brothers first met in 2006 when he was with Stuttgart and Brad was with Mayflower. Stuttgart won that game and Bobby, once again, got the better of his younger brother the following season when then-conference rivals North Little Rock and Pine Bluff met.
Last season, Brad picked up his first win against Bobby with the Charging Wildcats defeating the Zebras 47-10 in North Little Rock.
“Last year’s game really just got away from us,” Bobby Bolding said. “I’ve looked at the film of that game a lot, obviously.
“In looking at it, I felt like they were a better team than us, but not that much better.”
During the summer, the coaches faced each other again at the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star football game with Bobby on the West and Brad on the East.
“He said, ‘We’re going to count this one,’” Bobby Bolding said of his brother. “I tried to talk him out of it.”
The West was able to pull out the victory with Vincent Love of Hope catching a 21-yard touchdown pass from El Dorado’s Lucas Reed with 27 seconds left in the game. The East’s Lane Campbell of Jonesboro Westside missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired to preserve the West’s 16-13 win.
After the win, Bobby said he held up three fingers on one hand and one finger on the other to update Brad on the pair’s head-to-head record.
Even though both teams are ranked No. 1 in their respective class by hootens.com, there’s a good chance Brad Bolding will be the one holding up his fingers on Friday night.
Last season, NLR reached the 7A semifinals — the third time the team has reached the semis in the past four seasons — before falling to eventual-state champion Fayetteville 30-28.
This year, the Charging Wildcats have split their first two games. After defeating Lake Hamilton 55-13 to open the season, NLR fell 24-23 to Mississippi powerhouse South Panola last week.
Despite losing running back Altee Tenpenny, who is now playing for the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Charging Wildcats still have a fierce ground game that could give the Zebra defense fits.
“We expect them to hand the ball to their running back (senior Juan Day) who committed to Arkansas,” Bobby Bolding said. “And we expect them to throw it to their receiver (junior K.J. Hill) who got an offer from Arkansas.”
Joining Day in the NLR backfield is senior Deion Tidwell and junior Fabian Lewis, who had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in last year’s meeting.
“Definitely we have to tackle,” Bobby Bolding said. “They can fly.
“If we can’t tackle, 3- or 4-yard gains become 80-yard runs. We have to make them earn it.
“It’s going to be tough because the Arkansas commit Day is 6-2, 225, maybe 230 pounds. He’s bigger than probably 8 of our 11 defenders, so we’re going to have to fly to the ball and gang tackle.”
Pine Bluff not only has a player size disadvantage, they have a school size disadvantage.
“They have about 2,800 in their high school and we have about 800,” Bobby Bolding said. “So they’ve got a lot more players than we do.
“I don’t think they play anybody both ways.”
Bobby Bolding said that difference gives the Charging Wildcats a huge edge.
“It’s a big advantage,” he said. “When it comes to making adjustments, our guys are always in the game, so we can’t really make adjustments until halftime. …
“As for practice, we get to spend two hours everyday splitting between two positions, whereas they spend all the time on the same side of the ball.”
If Bobby Bolding is to follow in Peyton Manning’s footsteps and beat his young brother, he will need his offense to take care of the ball better than it did in last year’s meeting.
“Last year, I think they scored four defensive touchdowns against us,” Bobby Bolding said. “All off interceptions.
“This year, we can’t throw picks and have to take care of the football.”
That starts with sophomore quarterback Ladarius Skelton.
“We’re going to try and keep the number of decisions he has to make at a minimum,” Bobby Bolding said. “When we’ve done that, he’s been very good.
“He just doesn’t have enough reps for us to open it up. He has the ability, just not the reps.”
When all is said and done, Bobby Bolding wants one thing, above all else, for his team tonight.
“Hopefully, we’re healthy aftwards,” he said. “With the kind of speed and size they have, it’ll be hard, though.”