After four weeks of football, Watson Chapel’s challenging road swing is finally over.
At least it was a winning stretch for the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 in 5A-South).
“We knew what our schedule was in January or February, so we pretty much knew we were going to be out there,” coach George Shelton said. “Our kids did a good job traveling and handling all the things you got to do on the road.”
The Wildcats even won games that drew statewide attention, defeating Siloam Springs at the University of Arkansas in Week 1 and rebounding from a blowout loss at Pine Bluff to beat 4A Nashville, which was ranked No. 1 at the time. Now, they get to enjoy the friendly confines of their own stadium for the first time this season when they host De Queen (1-3, 0-1) on Friday night.
Shelton is looking for his team to put together a complete game by excelling in all phases of the game against the Leopards, who are coming off a 46-24 loss to Hope.
“I’ve seen us improve in every phase of the game,” Shelton said. “Certainly we’ve had some things we haven’t been pleased with. We haven’t just put all three phases of the game — offense, defense and kicking game — together.”
Shelton said the closest the Wildcats have come to doing that was in its 30-28 win at Nashville. Despite beating Hot Springs 41-23 last Friday, Watson Chapel didn’t play as well as possible defensively and missed some offensive opportunities, according to Shelton.
“Friday night was not a good showing for us,” Shelton said.
He added improving focus and discipline will be important for the Wildcats to have a complete game.
But Watson Chapel also had some good performances at Hot Springs, including Devonte Battles’ 152 rushing yards and four touchdowns and SanAntonio Cole’s 198 passing yards and two scores.
They took advantage of a good outing by the offensive line, which continues to make strides each week, the coach said. Shelton is also happy with Cole’s progression at quarterback after two starts.
“He brings a little more athleticism to the position, and that’s never something that’s a bad thing at that position,” Shelton said. “Kris (McCullough, who started the two previous games), is still an integral part of what we are going to do, and he has a heck of a lot to offer. We feel very comfortable anytime he comes into a ballgame.”
Watson Chapel’s speed will likely pose a problem for De Queen, which has lost three straight after a 32-30 win over Mena. Leopards coach Sam Goodwin hopes his team can make up for it by controlling possession and limiting turnovers.
“Speed gives us problems with everybody,” Goodwin said. “I consider Watson Chapel to be one of the faster teams we’ll play.”
De Queen’s leading rusher, fullback Chris Jones, averages about 60 yards per game.
De Queen at Watson Chapel
• 7 p.m. Friday at Wildcat Stadium
• 5A-South Conference records: De Queen 0-1, Watson Chapel 1-0
• Last week: De Queen lost to Hope 46-24; Watson Chapel def. Hot Springs 41-23