After so much attention was put on trying to defeat 4A top-ranked Stuttgart and coming up short, Dollarway is still putting up its best fight tonight.
But it’s the intensity of a team on the playoff bubble the Cardinals have to gear for tonight.
Dollarway will have a state playoff berth wrapped up with a victory over Batesville Southside at Cardinal Stadium. Southside, however, needs a victory to keep hope alive, as it’s tied with Lonoke for the fifth and final playoff spot. Lonoke owns the tiebreaker with a 51-21 win over the Southerners on Oct. 5.
“I think it adds to it because a desperate team takes desperate measures,” Dollarway coach Cortez Lee said. “We’ll have to prepare for this as if this is a playoff game as well. The implications for them are very high.”
A Lonoke upset of Stuttgart and Southside loss tonight will end all aspirations for the Southerners (4-3-1, 2-3), who started their football program on the junior high level in 2004.
Dollarway’s well seasoned in playing in high-implication games, such as last week’s 24-14 loss to Stuttgart in a first-place tilt. Although it was the Cardinals’ shot at No. 1, Lee’s looking for a better approach to tonight’s game from his team than he saw against Stuttgart.
“Last week was a personal game for us, had so many different implications to it,” he said. “At the same time, we did approach it as if it was our next game. I think if we come out and harbor some of those same emotions like we did last week, we could give them a chance to make plays.”
The Southerners are a run-oriented team led offensively by cousins Jordan and Emprea Childress. Both transferred from Batesville, where Jordan ran for 4,015 yards in two seasons according to Hooten’s Arkansas Football and helped the Pioneers finish as 5A state runners-up. Emprea is a triple threat who can play quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
Dollarway will again use two quarterbacks, with regular running back Jeremiah Young taking on more of a role under center and regular starter Xavier Long expected to take more snaps than he did against Stuttgart. Long completed 6 of 9 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re steadily trying to increase the load of him learning the quarterback system even more,” Lee said. “At the same time, we know how important Xavier is. He’s a weapon at receiver, so the same principles apply. I just think we can utilize Jeremiah in even more situations.”
Dollarway will miss two key players due to injuries. Sophomore linebacker Chaderius Avery is out for the next 2 ½ weeks because of a deep bruise in his knee. Also, sophomore two-way lineman Brandon Blake will miss tonight’s game with an ankle sprain.