Special to The Commercial/Mike Adam
Watson Chapel running back Devonte Battles runs through a hole as quarterback SanAntonio Cole blocks upfield during last Friday’s home loss to Hot Springs Lakeside.
After turning the ball over five times in last week’s loss to Hot Springs Lakeside, Watson Chapel coach George Shelton was obviously disappointed in his team’s performance.
The last game of the year does not get any easier for the Wildcats (6-3, 4-2 5A-South) as they travel to take on Camden Fairview (9-0, 6-0) tonight. The Cardinals are ranked No. 2 in 5A by Hootens.com, but Shelton thinks Camden Fairview is possibly the best team he has seen in the class this year.
“We are hoping to have a solid performance against probably the number one team in Class 5A,” he said. “I have seen them. I haven’t seen Wynne or Pulaski Academy, so they are the best team I have seen and they are heads and shoulders above the rest.”
Shelton even admitted Camden Fairview is a better team than his, but that does not mean the Cardinals are automatically going to win.
“I don’t know if we are as good as they are and the records do not say we are as good,” he said. “But the ball could bounce crazy and they could have seven turnovers.”
The Wildcats should not have seven turnovers, either. All of Watson Chapel’s turnovers last week were fumbles, which is something Shelton does not expect from his junior and senior running back core.
“I was disappointed by our performance in last week’s game with turnovers and hope to fix that,” he said. “Just tried to make adjustments with people on the offense and defense and hope they will redeem themselves and the true character will be revealed when we play (tonight).”
Shelton said his running backs were not fundamentally sound in how they carried the football. While the team has worked on that this week in practice, it has not been to the extent Shelton has wanted because of some injuries.
“Sometimes it’s a little difficult to correct those errors unless you are scrimmaging and we have had some bumps and bruises, so we haven’t done that,” he said. “Hope the running backs are more focused. We’ve been running for a while and all of the kids we have are juniors and seniors, so they have quite a bit of experience.”
Because of the various “bumps and bruises,” Shelton will be moving some players around for tonight’s game, but did not want to say which players would not play or would see less time.
“We’ve got some holes to fill and not going to name names,” he said. “An offensive lineman or two that will be replaced or see some limited time. (Quarterback) SanAntonio (Cole) will play more defense because of some bumps and bruises as well.”
Watson Chapel’s playoff seeding is on the line, too. The Wildcats sit in third place in the conference and would face Batesville if the playoffs started today.
If Watson Chapel loses and Hot Springs Lakeside beats Hot Springs, the Wildcats would fall to the No. 4 seed and would face currently undefeated Wynne in the first round.
Despite the playoff implications, Shelton said he has not even looked at that.
“Not focusing on the playoffs next week,” he said. “Have to focus on this one and looking at this for some time because knew we had (Camden Fairview) at the end.”
Watson Chapel (6-3) at Camden Fairview (9-0)
• 7 p.m. today
• 5A-South Conference records: Watson Chapel 4-2, Camden Fairview 6-0
• Last week: Watson Chapel lost to Hot Springs Lakeside 25-21; Camden Fairview def. Hot Springs 47-14