Bulldogs keep focus on Leopards

White Hall coach Mike Vaughn spent Thursday night watching Pulaski Academy play Jacksonville, knowing PA is a possible second-round opponent in the 5A state playoffs.

But Vaughn said he wasn’t doing any early scouting on last year’s 4A champion.

“If you start looking ahead at these games, you won’t be in the second round,” he said. “I came here to enjoy watching PA throwing the football. Coach (Kevin) Kelley does a good job.”

No matter how Vaughn’s Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 in 5A-South) do at home against De Queen (2-7, 1-5) tonight, they are assured of a No. 2 seed, which places them in the slot below Pulaski Academy vs. the 5A-West No. 4 seed on the bracket. White Hall will host either Beebe, which must beat Wynne to get the No. 3 seed from the East, or Forrest City next Friday.

Tonight, it’s about wrapping up conference play right for the Bulldogs.

“It’s senior night,” Vaughn said. “Our seniors want to go out on a good note at home. It’s one of those things you want to go out on a winning note.”

The White Hall senior class, which includes playmakers such as quarterback Terrance Vaughn and wide receiver/safeties Percy Arnold and Joseph Stewart, has accomplished plenty in the past three years. They won the final 5A-Southeast championship last year and reached the state semifinals for the first time since 1991. A win tonight will give them a 13-1 conference record in the past two seasons.

For some seniors, this was their only season to taste some of the varsity success.

“Most of them didn’t play last year,” Vaughn said. “Most of them were on the B-team. You got to be real proud of them.”

Much of White Hall’s experience from the 2011 season has rested in the secondary. The Bulldogs have been strong in pass defense with eight interceptions in the past three games. Stewart made four of them, including three in a 40-28 homecoming win over Hot Springs two weeks ago.

“They just get more experienced,” Vaughn said. “That was the experience we had from last year. That was the strength. People start throwing the football more, and that usually gives them a better opportunity to make plays.”

Some of the picks have helped the Bulldogs seal victories in closely contested games. Until beating Watson Chapel 48-41 on Oct. 12, each of their victories came by 20 or more points. Vaughn said the Bulldogs will need to protect the ball better than they have in recent games to avoid a slow start or lull against the Leopards, who average only 15.6 points per game with a young bunch.

“We can’t have those turnovers,” Vaughn said.