Pine Bluff has had Watson Chapel’s number the past couple of years, including a 35-6 pounding last year.
The Zebras also made a run to the Class 6A semifinals and return seven starters from the team that held Watson Chapel under double-digits for the only time of last year.
So Watson Chapel coach George Shelton is treating Friday’s game like a well-known Biblical story.
“Goliath said, ‘Is there one that will fight?’ David, a little shepherd boy, said ‘I will fight,’” he said. “We are over here. Chapel is over here. We are willing to accept their proposal.
Watson Chapel plays at 7 p.m. on Friday against Pine Bluff at Jordan Stadium.
In Watson Chapel’s case, David has taken down Goliath twice out of the five times the two schools have played.
Pine Bluff looks like the role of Goliath, too. The Zebras are coming off a 53-27 drubbing of Fort Smith Northside last week and is ranked No. 3 in Class 6A by Hootens.com.
Watson Chapel may be a little better version than David, though. The Wildcats are ranked by No. 3 in Class 5A by Hootens.com and beat Class 6A Siloam Springs 48-24 in the first week of the season.
Despite a good start to the season for Watson Chapel, Shelton was quick to point out who the better is on Friday.
“I don’t know what phases of the game we are better than them, but that’s not to say we are not a good football team,” he said. “In some folks’ opinion, we have never been better than them, but we have beaten them twice. The scoreboard is the scoreboard.”
The Wildcats’ defense will be tasked with keeping Pine Bluff’s offense in check, especially running back Walter Ashley, who had 491 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns last week.
Quarterback Rickey Clements added 251 yards and two scores through the air.
“I don’t know how to slow it down,” said Shelton of Pine Bluff’s offense. “We’ve got to be ready to take on that challenge as well.”
One way Watson Chapel could slow down Pine Bluff’s defense is to force turnovers. In the first week, the Wildcats caused five Siloam Springs turnovers, including two fumbles early in the game to help them jump out to a 21-0 lead.
“The ball bounced pretty friendly for us in game one,” Shelton said. “We want to be a team that creates opportunities, that’s for sure. We do that by being aggressive and our strength is our speed and quickness.”
Pine Bluff does not have the only well-rounded offensive attack on Friday, though. The Wildcats, who are known for their ground-attack, got 200 yards passing from Kris McCullough in their win over Siloam Springs.
“It certainly adds another dimension to us if we can throw the football,” Shelton said. “We are not bashful about making an attempt to throw the football whether we are in the spread or Wishbone formation.”
Shelton does know one thing going into Friday’s game, his team is more experienced than the one that took the field last year against Pine Bluff.
“We think we are improved in some areas and there are things that have not changed,” he said. “It’s a very common opponent and there are no secrets between us and we are looking forward to it.”