There does not seem to be much that separates Dollarway, a No. 2 seed, and Highland, a No. 1 seed.
Highland is 10-0 but is ranked No. 7 in Class 4A by Hootens.com. Dollarway is 9-1, but is ranked third and the Cardinals’ only loss is to Stuttgart, which is the top-ranked team.
The two teams even have similar scores against Jonesboro Westside. The Cardinals won 44-7 and Highland beat its conference foe 44-10. Both teams played Clinton, too, and Dollarway won the game 46-7, compared to a 41-18 victory for Highland.
There is no fooling Dollarway coach Cortez Lee, though. He knows Highland clearly looks the role of a top seed.
“They look as advertised,” Lee said. “I think they are a good team, it just remains to be seen how effective they really are. I am sure they are deserving of the number one seed.”
Is Highland as deserving as Stuttgart as a top seed? Lee was not willing to say which team is better, especially since he has only seen Highland on film.
“I won’t make a comparison like that,” he said. “I think they play well and I think they were better than the teams in their conference. As far as comparing, we will wait until Friday to make that comparison.”
Highland may be ranked just seventh by Hootens.com, but the Rebels have put up an impressive resume. Highland has beaten every 4A opponent it has faced by at least 18 points and has scored at least 41 points in 10 of its 11 games. The lone exception was a 21-3 victory over Valley View. The Rebels’ closest game was a 48-40 home win over Class 5A Greene County Tech.
The Rebels are led by quarterback Sterling Stowers, who has passed for 1,482 yards and rushed for 1,487. Running back Jordan Brewer has 1,193 yards rushing and fellow backfield mate Avery Johnson has almost 400 yards rushing and 30 catches for 607 yards.
“We have looked at them and they are a pretty good team and they have talent at multiple positions,” Lee said. “They seem like a solid team. They can run the ball and pass it. It just comes down to us being disciplined and playing well in the trenches.”
Dollarway counters with its own potent offense. The Cardinals average 40 points per game and have been held under 30 points only twice. The last three weeks, Dollarway has scored a combined 142 points.
Jeremiah Young has rushed for 1,753 yards and 20 touchdowns this year and has passed for 20 touchdowns. Quarterback Xavier Long has rushed for almost 600 yards and has passed for more than 700 yards.
Lee said the team will still run the same balanced attack against Highland.
“We are not going to change anything up and we are going to be who we have been,” he said. “We’ve been successful doing the things that have gotten us to this position.”
Defensively, the Cardinals have only given up more than 20 points twice. Once was the 24-14 loss to Stuttgart, and the other was a 44-42 overtime win over Newport.
One of the biggest obstacles may be the trip to Highland, which is about a 3 1/2-hour drive. Lee said the team plans to get around that by arriving at Highland 4 hours ahead of kickoff.
“Get the guys there early so they can get their legs acclimated again so they can be ready to play the game,” he said. “I think we have prepared well as a coaching staff to make sure we get all of our pregame rituals in.”