Ridgway Christian made the decision to start a football program very late into the summer, but there was still enough time to form a team, practice and prepare for the season.
The move has paid off, since the Eagles are playing for the Arkansas Association of Christian School championship on Friday against Southwest Christian Academy in Little Rock at the Arkansas School for the Deaf.
“It’s been a pleasant surprise,” Ridgway coach Trent Young said. “For the first year, to have the junior high go undefeated and now playing for a championship, it’s a dream come true.
“These kids have good work habit and were very coachable, so it made my job a whole lot easier and they caught on quickly.”
Southwest Christian Academy is a team Ridgway is familiar with. The Eagles opened up the season against the AACS defending champions and lost each game. The first time the Eagles fell 38-28 before being defeated 32-16 in the second game.
“We played them real close the first two times,” Young said. “On paper, they have more experience, but we played very hard against them. They will be ready to play and so will we.
“Not going to do anything real fancy and just try and execute well. They have team speed, so hopefully we will not let them break loose.”
Young said the team has been having some good practices leading up to the game on Friday.
“Hopefully we will be well prepared and we are working hard,” he said. “Regardless of what happens on Friday, it’s been a joy coaching these kids.”
McGehee at Fordyce (Friday)
Fordyce coach Tim Rodgers is not a big fan of being the Hootens.com game of the week. Each time the Redbugs (7-2, 4-2 6-3A Conference) were picked as the 3A game of the week, they have lost.
The first time was to Prescott and the second time was to Camden Harmony Grove.
So Rodgers felt better after he was told that the Redbugs home game on Friday against McGehee is not the game of the week.
“That’s good news,” he said.
McGehee (8-1, 5-1) has also been the Class 3A game of the week twice and the Owls have won both matchups. The first time it was against Monticello and the next was against Prescott.
Both teams have lost to Camden Harmony Grove this year.
McGehee will get a share of the conference title with a win and the No. 1 seed over Prescott based on the Owls’ win over Curley Wolves last week.
Fordyce’s defense has been a problem the last few weeks. After giving up a combined 35 points in the first five games, the Redbugs have given up at least 22 points the last four games and 58 points in a loss to Prescott and 48 to Camden Harmony Grove.
“Our secondary has worried us all year long with three new starters back there this year and Prescott and (Camden) Harmony Grove expose that,” Rodgers said. “That’s where we have had problems.”
McGehee is more of a run-orientated offense, though. The Owls rely on David Shepard and Steven King in the backfield. King scored a touchdown late in last week’s win over Smackover and had two touchdowns in the late comeback win over Prescott.
“We feel a little big better going into this game because McGehee doesn’t throw as much as the other teams we have played,” Rodgers said. “If we can slow the game down and put more guys in the box, we will have a chance.”
McGehee’s defense has two shutouts on the year and has only allowed double-digit points in four games this season.
Dumas at Hamburg (tonight)
Two weeks ago, Dumas’ chances of making the Class 4A playoffs were very slim.
But after a 42-13 win over DeWitt and a 41-13 victory against Monticello last week, the Bobcats (3-6, 3-3 in 8-4A Conference) can claim the third seed out of the conference with a win against Hamburg tonight.
If Dumas losses, the Bobcats will probably miss the playoffs.
“It’s a make or break game unless some crazy things happen,” Dumas coach Mark Courtney said. “It’s the most important game of the year.”
Hamburg (5-4, 4-2) is currently the third seed from the conference after losing to Warren last week.
Dumas was giving up 37 points per game before holding its last two opponents to 26 points.
Courtney said the whole team has come together the last couple of weeks, not just the defense.
“Success breeds success and when we saw we could move the ball, it seems like the confidence grew,” he said. “We are playing wide open at every position now like we expected every game.”
Monticello at DeWitt (Friday)
Even with a win on Friday, Monticello (4-5, 3-3 8-4A Conference) would need some help to get into the playoffs for the ninth straight year.
“Still playing to get into the playoffs, so the attitudes should be we have a lot to play for,” Monticello coach Greg Tiner said. “(DeWitt) will not be an easy game for us because they are physical. Still have a chance to get in, so hopefully we will play hard Friday night.”
If Crossett or Dumas loses and Monticello wins, the Billies will make the playoffs. If both teams win, Monticello could find itself out of the race due to tiebreakers.
“Not exactly sure, but there would be a good chance we would be out,” Tiner said. “I hope the kids understand and we have talked to them about how big this game is.”
Stuttgart at Marianna (tonight)
Stuttgart is still feeling the sting from being upset by Lonoke last week and seeing its perfect season end.
The Ricebirds (8-1, 5-1 in 2-4A Conference) can still win a share of the division title with Dollarway with a win over Marianna this week (0-8, 0-6) and the No. 1 seed out of the conference.
“We are coming off a touch game,” Stuttgart coach Billy Elmore said. “Hopefully we play well and get that bad taste out of our mouths.”
Elmore said being conference champions will mean more than getting the top seed.
“The conference championship is the biggest thing, but when you get into the seedings, the two seed may have the more favorable matchups,” he said. “It’s another game and another opportunity to go out and perform.”
Marianna has scored just six points this year and has given up 471.
“We have to play well and execute and play the way we are capable of and if we do that, we will be fine,” Elmore said. “If we play the way we did last week, we will have the chance to be upset again.”
Sheridan at Texarkana (tonight)
If Sheridan (3-6, 2-4 in 7A/6A-South) can beat Texarkana today, the Yellowjackets will earn the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and a home playoff game.
“It’s a big game because it can mean the different of hosting a game instead of going on the road,” Sheridan coach Louis Campbell said. “I don’t like the idea that everyone gets into the playoffs, but if you are going, you want to go in with some momentum and a better seed. So this is big.”
Campbell said his team realizes it’s a big game, but he does not know exactly what kind of team he will see on tonight.
“They know the implications of it, but at the same time, it seems like there are games where they are in it and some games they are not. That’s what scares you to death of as a coach.”
Crossett at Star City (tonight)
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Star City after having a good number of sophomore starts for the Bulldogs this year.
Not only is Star City (7-2, 4-2 in 8-4A Conference) in the playoffs for a fourth straight year, if the Bulldogs can beat Crossett (4-5, 3-3), they will earn the second seed from the conference.
“For a team that was suppose to be rebuilding, this is great and it shows the hard work we have put in,” Star City coach Blair Brown said. “Having a home playoff game against anyone would be exciting.”
The Bulldogs are not looking ahead, though, and have their focus on the Eagles.
“Crossett is going to be a tremendous challenge,” Brown said. “They are extremely explosive and have one of the best running backs we have seen this year and a quarterback that can throw and run. Worked on finding ways to slow them down this week.”
Rison at Hampton (tonight)
Rison (6-3, 5-2) can secure the No. 3 seed in the 8-2A Conference with a win over Hampton (2-5, 2-5).
“We hope to finish up the year with a good win going into the playoffs,” Rison coach Clay Totty said.
The Wildcats do want to work on taking care of the ball in its game against Hampton, which really has not been a problem for them this year.
“We didn’t do a great job of securing the ball last week and we had a blocked punt and we have to clean that up. “It has been something we have done a great job of doing this year.”
Drew Central at Camden Harmony Grove (tonight)
This is the last chance of the year for Drew Central (0-8, 0-6 6-3A Conference) to snap its 21-game losing streak when the Pirates play Camden Harmony Grove (5-3-1, 4-2).
Drew Central coach James White said both teams run about the same offense, so hopefully that will give the Pirates a bit of an edge this week.
“It’s actually a better matchup against them than a team that just runs straight ahead like Fouke,” he said. “We’ve been scoring some points lately, so hopefully we continue to roll. We have had a good couple days of practice, we are having fun and we are ready to finish up the season.”
Hermitage at Woodlawn (tonight)
Woodlawn (0-8, 0-7 8-2A Conference) has scored 22 points all year and given up 353. Hermitage (1-8, 0-7) has scored just 34 points and allowed 427.
“They have had a rough year just like we have and one of us will have to pick up a win,” Woodlawn coach Ray Sessions said. “We are interested in spreading the ball out more this week.”
Woodlawn scrapped its spread offense early in its game against Parkers Chapel for the Wing-T, but the Bears will run the spread this week again.
“I’ve felt pretty comfortable about our game-plan going into every game we have played,” Sessions said. “Just haven’t been able to simulate game speed in practice and it takes us a quarter or two to adjust.”
Warren at Lake Village (tonight)
After starting the year 0-3, Warren has won six straight games to claim the 8-4A Conference title, just like the Lumberjacks did in 2009.
Lake Village has lost 18 straight conference games.