White Hall coach Mike Vaughn is looking forward to facing the No. 1-ranked team in 5A.
Under Vaughn, the Bulldogs have a little history with Pulaski Academy, one of Arkansas’ most dominant football programs in the past decade. On Friday, the two programs will meet again in Little Rock, both trying to maintain their role as 5A championship contenders.
“It’s going to be a fun week,” Vaughn said. “We love going up to PA. PA’s got a great program, great football team. It’s fun playing them.”
White Hall (9-1) will need a better performance against No. 1 than it had against No. 2 earlier in the season, when Camden Fairview dominated the Bulldogs 47-8. White Hall has won six straight since the loss, though.
PA (9-2), a winner of eight straight, is actually going for its second state championship in a row, following last season’s 4A crown.
“We played them in ’06 and ’07, and we split with them those two years,” Vaughn said. “Coach (Kevin) Kelley is such a great football coach; everyone knows that. To get a chance to play them, I think, is an honor they look forward to.”
The Bruins and Bulldogs share a couple of things in common, like high-scoring offenses and a flair for onside kicks. The Bulldogs, however, could have their hands full trying to slow down a Bruins team that has scored fewer than 30 points just once this season — losing 30-21 to West Memphis in Week 3.
PA has thrown for nearly 5,000 yards this season. Senior Lawson Vassar has completed 73.2 percent of his passes for 4,242 yards and 47 touchdowns.
For the second straight week, the Bulldogs will get a look at one of Arkansas’ verbal committals when they try to contain Bruins tight end Hunter Henry. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound senior averages 123.7 receiving yards per game — which is actually second on the team to L.J. Wallace’s 137.
Forrest City defensive end Tevin Beanum is the other Razorback prospect. He came up with a fourth-down tackle in White Hall’s 35-19 win this past Friday.
Zebras need to focus better
Pine Bluff had no problem with its first-round opponent as the Zebras dispatched of Little Rock Hall 57-0.
But even with the lopsided score, Pine Bluff coach Bobby Bolding still found something that clearly needs to be fixed before his team hosts Benton in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
Bolding did not think his team was mentally prepared for Little Rock Hall.
“So much of this game is mental and being focused and being mentally prepared to play,” he said. “When you sit around before a game and you are joking and not focused on what you job and assignment is, you don’t play as well.”
Bolding was not the only one who noticed it, too.
“I had some seniors approach me with some ideas they had and we just have to do a better job of getting them ready,” he said. “Last year we did some stuff, and I am not going to get into detail, but we did some stuff that got them fired up before the game.
“They know it’s a problem and they know it’s important and we have to find a way to fix it before this Friday.”
Benton will be a tougher opponent than Little Rock Hall, which came into the first round with a 16-game losing streak. Benton beat Russellville in the first round of the playoffs, but lost to Pine Bluff 43-6 in the last week of the season.
Bolding said the level of opponent has also played a role in how mentally prepared the players have been.
“We didn’t have this problem when we played El Dorado,” he said. “You walked in on here on Friday and it was business.”
Benton is not to the level that El Dorado is, but Bolding said his team needs to treat the Panthers like they are El Dorado.
“But we are in the playoffs and you need to have that way every Friday,” he said.
Big plays propel Cards
Dollarway had six scoring plays against Jonesboro Westside in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs, and those scoring plays totaled 250 yards.
For Dollarway, the big plays were nothing new. The Cardinals have become accustomed to breaking big runs or pass plays throughout the year.
“We’ve been blessed to have that ability all year long,” Dollarway coach Cortez Lee said. “At anytime, guys are capable and it’s a nice luxury to have. … We were very productive on almost every play (against Jonesboro Westside).”
Dollarway is not just relying on the big plays, though. They kind of just come naturally.
“I feel you take whatever the defense gives you and we are able to be balanced and execute a drive and a play can go for a big play,” Lee said. “We are able to sustain drives, too. Every coach draws up that play that can go for a big play, and if we block it right, it can go all the way.”
Watson Chapel’s season ends
Watson Chapel saw its season come to a finale with a 35-7 loss to Wynne in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
The Wildcats finished the season with a 6-5 record and they were the fourth seed from the 5A-South with a 4-3 record.