This is the one week the Pine Bluff football team does not have a tough task in front of it.
This week’s game is a road game, but it is only 45 minutes away and it is against a team that has only won five games since 2006 — Little Rock J.A. Fair (0-6, 0-3 in 7A/6A-South).
The game should be an easy one for Pine Bluff (5-1, 3-0), but Zebras coach Bobby Bolding is taking the game seriously.
“We are going to respect them until proven otherwise,” he said. “I think every team that you play deserves that. They do have some good athletes, and they have been struggling this year and for the past several years.”
Pine Bluff has taken it easier this week and Bolding put a rule in place that coaches needed to be out of the office by 6 p.m. But he put that rule in place because it is the midway point of the season and it had nothing to do with the opponent.
“We cut out a lot of film work this week and cut practice time down, and that’s not out of disrespect to Fair,” Bolding said. “We are just past the midway point of the season and we needed to recharge our batteries a bit. You can see more enthusiasm in practice.”
The team could also be looking ahead to next week and a critical 7A/6A-South game at home against El Dorado, which is the three-time defending 6A champion and the only other undefeated team in the conference.
Bolding said the focus on practice has been on J.A. Fair, though.
“We don’t look ahead,” he said. “We are focused on this one and will worry about the next one come Saturday.”
Pine Bluff goes into the J.A. Fair with no injuries of note, according to Bolding.
The War Eagles have scored the second fewest points (52) in 7A/6A and has scored a season-high 14 points twice this season. Quarterback Damarious Robinson leads J.A. Fair’s offense and Bolding said he can scramble a little bit.
“Anytime you have a quarterback that can scramble, that causes problems,” he said. “You have to lock on your guy and if someone doesn’t lock, he keeps his eyes down the field and you have someone open.”
The War Eagles were able to score 14 points in last week’s loss to Bryant and did add a bit to their offensive scheme.
“They looked better against Bryant and they mixed up the pass a little bit and shortened up their routes,” Bolding said. “Bryant was able to take that away after they made some adjustments. They have the kids to make plays, they just haven’t executed well.”
Bolding has noticed J.A. Fair’s defense has some athletes and his linemen have to stay on their blocks. Bolding does have a goal set for his offense, but would not say what it was.
He did say it would be difficult to obtain.
“We have a goal set and we want to try and reach that,” he said. “It will take an act of Congress, but we are going to go for it and see what happens.”
The main goal is to just stay focused on what the Zebras need to do to have a successful game, Bolding said.
“We just need to worry about ourselves and 99 percent of the time that is what you need to do,” he said. “Do what you do and if you execute, you will be successful.”