FORDYCE — The Rison Wildcats made 13 different kinds of mistakes in the scrimmage game last week against Hamburg. Head coach Clay Totty said there is no excuse for it.
“We had alignment problems, technique problems, running the wrong routes, just way too many mistakes,” Totty said. So this week, the Wildcats have been trying to fix those mistakes as they prepare for rival Fordyce, who they will face in the season opener.
“We need to correct our mental mistakes that we made in the scrimmage and be ready for the real game,” Totty said.
Rison hasn’t beaten Fordyce in three years and were “absolutely embarrassed” last year in a 45-14 loss at home.
“We were totally embarrassed,” Totty said. “We embarrassed the program, the tradition and our community.”
Numbers are high at Rison this season with 44 players on the varsity roster and 40 on the junior high program. The last time, Rison beat Fordyce was in 2010 when the Wildcats won 30-27 in overtime.
Totty believes there won’t be a repeat of last year.
“I hope not,” Totty said. “We will see if the young men will rise up.”
Rison senior Nathan Wilson returns at starting quarterback after rushing 159 times for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also passed for 340 yards and eight scores.
Fordyce are completely starting over this year, as only two starters on offense are returning for the Redbugs this fall.
Larry Buckley, a two-year starter returning this season, earned all-conference honors after rushing for 765 yards on 85 carries with eight touchdowns. He also caught 38 passes for 443 yards and eight scores.
Tight end Josh Stroud also returns for an offense that averaged 40 points a game last season, scoring at least five touchdowns in 11 games.
The Redbugs surrendered 21 points a game last fall, shutting out three opponents and holding three more to two scores or less.
Head coach Tim Rodgers, who is in his 4th season as head coach, was not available for comment despite multiple phone calls.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and can be heard on the radio at 103.7 FM.
Ridgway at Southwest Christian
LITTLE ROCK — The Ridgway Eagles will begin their second season of football Friday night when they travel to Southwest Christian Academy this week.
“We have made quite a bit of progress,” head coach Trent Young said. “We finalized some things this week and put everything in.
“We just have to fine tune everything (today).”
Young said the team has responded pretty well, despite having given them quite a bit to work with.
“I am anxious to see how we do,” Young said. “Just like most teams this time of year, we are tired of hitting against each other.”
SCA defeated Ridgway in the state championship for the Arkansas Association of Christian Schools last year.
“We have tremendous support all the way from our administration to our church and parents,” Young said. “Our kids seem to be hungry and have absorbed everything real quick.
“They have hung in there and done the best they can. It has really impressed me so far.”
The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. because SCA doesn’t have lights on its field. Ridgway’s junior high program will play at Victory on Monday.
Little Rock Hall at Sheridan
SHERIDAN — The biggest concern for the Sheridan Yellowjackets this week is the fact that they have no idea what to expect from Little Rock Hall when they host the 7A/6A Central opponent.
“We know nothing about them,” Sheridan head coach Louis Campbell said. “They got a new coach (this summer) and they didn’t go to any camps.
“We don’t have a clue what they are running.”
Hall lost all 12 games last year and hasn’t won more than three games since 2006.
Former Lonoke junior high coach Tim Scarborough became Hall’s ninth head coach since 1996 in July. Scarborough’s junior Jackrabbits won 22 games the past four seasons.
Hall will be led by Daniel Brown at quarterback after alternating at the position for the past two seasons. Jalen Harper ran for more than 800 yards a year ago.
“We are just going to have to show up and see what we are going to play against,” Campbell said. “We are trying to prepare for a little bit of everything.”
Sheridan won four games last year — including a 26-6 win over Hall in the season opener. Campbell said he believes the team has made some progress since its scrimmage game against Vilonia.
“We did some good things on both offense and defense,” Campbell said. “Basically, it is all about the big plays. We want to create them and try to avoid them.
“Like I said, we are relatively healthy and I think they are ready to play.”
Lonoke at Star City
STAR CITY — The Star City Bulldogs will have their hands full Friday night when they host Lonoke in their season opener.
“They are very athletic and are very well-coached,” first-year head coach Jett Furneaux said. “They run the spread with a lot of jet motion and inside zone.”
Lonoke also features a Division-I signee on offense with receiver Blake Mack (6-foot-4, 190). “He is a really good receiver,” Furneaux said. “We are trying not to let him beat us.”
Mack, who signed with Louisiana-Monroe in May, had 756 yards with eight touchdowns last season. According to Furneaux, he has also received some interest from the University of Arkansas.
But don’t expect the Bulldogs’ entire game plan to revolve around Mack.
“We are going to do what we do on defense with just a little tweaks,” Furneaux said. “They do a good job of moving (Mack) around.
“You can’t build a defense around him because that can put you in some bad situations.”
Furneaux coordinated the Bulldog offense the past four years. Star City sophomore quarterback Tye Brown will lead the offense after leading the junior high to an 8-0 record.
“He is a smart kid who throws the ball well,” Furneaux said. “We just need to keep him composed.”
Mayflower at Dumas
DUMAS — The Dumas Bobcats will rely heavily on its senior class on Friday as they host 3A opponent Mayflower.
Head coach Mark Courtney told The Commercial in August, that he believes it is his senior class that holds the key to the Bobcats being successful this year.
After two small senior classes the last two years, Dumas has 12 listed on this season’s roster.
Senior Ryan Miller returns for his third season at quarterback and senior Reginald Bailey ran for almost 800 yards last year while splitting carries with two other running backs.
Dumas has won just seven games the past two seasons after winning at least seven each of the previous four years.
Mayflower defeated Dumas by 28 points last year. Mayflower gave up 43 points per game in 2012 but notched its first postseason victory in four years with a triumph over 1-3A co-champion Yellville-Summit.
Junior quarterback Adam Dycus completed 244 of of 419 passes for 4,084 yards and 42 touchdowns with 14 interceptions in 2012. Senior Madison Chambliss caught 63 passes for 1,094 yards and nine touchdowns.
Junior recevier and three-sport athlete Drew Duncan earned all-conference honors last fall after leading the Eagles with 71 catches for 718 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ryan Koonce, who caught a 9-yard TD pass in the playoff game at Prescott, recorded 107 tackles a year ago at inside linebacker.
Des Arc at Woodlawn
WOODLAWN — Zach Branch will make his debut as head coach Friday night as the Bears will host Des Arc.
“It has been kind of bitter-sweet,” Branch said. “With the injuries it has been a little stressful.
“After the scrimmage I felt pretty good, but now this has been thrown on me and I am feeling kind of stressed.”
Senior starting quarterback and cornerback Trevor Weldon is out for the season and senior wingback Trey Chapman is out for about two or three weeks after they both sustained what Branch called “non-football related injuries.”
Branch is forced to replace them with a couple of underclassmen who have never played at those positions.
“I am excited but I am also bothered by the fact that this has happened,” Branch said.
Branch was promoted to head coach after serving three seasons as defensive coordinator under Ray Sessions.
Des Arc advanced in the playoffs last fall for the fifth straight season, winning on the road for the first time since 2001.
“They are very big across the line of scrimmage and that is a concern,” Branch said. “They have a veteran quarterback who is a real smart, football guy and can get them in good situations.”
Senior quarterback Josh Holloway earned all-state honors in 2012 after rushing for 1,064 yards and 20 touchdowns, including 24 carries for 130 yards and four TDs in the first round game against Mountainburg.
“Overall they are an experienced team and we have a lot of young guys,” Branch said.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Hampton at Drew Central
MONTICELLO — For the first time in a couple of seasons, the Drew Central Pirates have a game on Week 1 of the season and head coach James White could barely contain his excitement about it.
“It is the first time since I’ve been here that we’ve played an opponent in Week 1,” White said. “We are excited just to be able to play.
“We got ready for them last year and it was a real downer when we didn’t play.
“So, I’m just excited to get on the field and play football.”
The Pirates will have to stop a Hampton team that won just two games last year but are known for their heavy run attack offense.
“They are going to run the football,” White said. “They are going to eat the clock, control the ball and game and run it down people’s throats.”
White said Drew Central will have to lean on its defensive linemen to corral Hampton’s players from breaking open big plays.
“Got to make sure we come off the ball well and control the line of scrimmage,” White said. “Our D-line has to play a great game and we have to do a good job of making tackles.”
The football program at Drew Central is entering its sixth season in existence and has won just eight games over that span, including none under White, who is in his third year with the Pirates.