WHITE HALL — Thursday practices at White Hall usually are short so the players can keep their legs fresh for Friday.
But their opponent tonight isn’t like any other team.
Pulaski Academy is more than just the No. 1 team in 5A and the 4A champion from last year. The Bruins may be as complex on offense as any high school team.
So the Bulldogs practiced a little longer Thursday, trying the make the most out of their week of preparation.
“You never have enough time to prepare for PA,” Vaughn said. “We’ve done all we can do. We’ll go out and play and see how the kids react.”
It’s plenty the Bulldogs have to react to and plenty that the Bruins have produced on offense. They average 579.9 yards of total offense per game — 496.1 of that passing. They score 46.7 points per game.
Their starting quarterback, future Arkansas pitcher Lawson Vassar, has completed 73.2 percent of his passes for 4,242 yards and 47 touchdowns this season. He has two 1,000-yard receivers to choose from: L.J. Wallace (1,507 yards), who leads the team with 21 touchdowns, and tight end Hunter Henry (1,237), an Arkansas verbal commit who’s hauled in 14 scores.
The White Hall defense worked on lining up against the two receivers Thursday. But seeing the real thing is different.
“When you see it, it’s hard to practice against it because they do it so well,” Vaughn said of PA’s offense. “It’s hard to simulate what they do.”
There is some good news for the Bulldogs about the Bruins’ offense — PA only possesses the ball 23 ½ minutes in a 48-minute game on average. Every second with the ball will be critical for the Bulldogs.
“We have to score points,” Vaughn said. We have to score six or seven times. It’s a fact of life. If you don’t play four downs, they will.”
PA is nationally known for rarely punting on fourth down, regardless of the situation. The Bruins have converted almost half of their fourth downs (31 of 65) this season and are about as effective on third downs (56 of 126).
Because PA can do so much on offense, Vaughn won’t mind taking a chance on fourth down, either — if the situation calls for it.
“We’re not to the point where we’re going to go crazy,” he said. “If we’re in rhythm and things are going well for us, I think you have to go for it.”
The Bulldogs have picked off 15 passes in the past five games, so maybe some more good fortune awaits them tonight in Little Rock. Vaughn can only find out.
“We have to go out, have fun and see what happens,” he said.
White Hall (9-1) at Pulaski Academy (9-2)
• 7 p.m. today in Little Rock
• Seeds: White Hall second in 5A-South; PA 5A-Central champion
• Last week: White Hall def. Forrest City 35-19; PA def. Vilonia 62-21
• Semifinals: Winner will play Greenbrier or Batesville