The Watson Chapel Wildcats (2-2, 2-0 5A-South) continue their conference schedule with a pivotal matchup at the Hope Bobcats (4-1, 2-0) on Friday night.
The Wildcats are coming off a road conference win with a 48-7 victory over the De Queen Leopards while the Bobcats enjoyed a 42-34 comeback road win over the Hot Springs Trojans. Hope trailed 26-7 in the third quarter before rallying off 29 straight points.
With the season halfway over, Watson Chapel’s head coach George Shelton said this game is crucial to the season as far as the seeding goes for the playoffs.
“We’re just trying to keep pace with the conference leaders,” Shelton said. “We’re 2-0 right now and we’re certainly trying to seek another victory. We’re playing them one game at a time and hopefully we play it one play at a time, and I think that’s a winning way to go about things.”
Watson Chapel’s defense has improved with every game while allowing just seven points scored in conference play. Shelton said his defense is in for a significant challenge this Friday against Hope who has scored at least five touchdowns in every game so far this season.
“Playing good defense first starts with being able to line up properly,” he said. “They’ll force us to spend a considerable amount of time just ensuring we line up properly. I feel like if we can line up well, it’s going to increase our chances to better play a solid brand of defense. We certainly have enough ability, but we have to make sure we line up well.”
Watson Chapel, currently ranked 5th in 5A by Hootens.com is in for a tough matchup with 8th ranked Hope as both teams are in a three-way tie for first place in the 5A-South alongside Camden Fairview. This match has been selected by Hootens.com as the 5A game of the week. Shelton said that Hope mixes their offense well with the multiple formations they use and they present a problem for opposing defenses.
“They (Hope) throw it well in a variety of ways,” he said. “They have a vertical game and an outstanding wide receiver. Their skills players are very capable of making impact plays. They have a power game and they have a big offensive tackle on the right side that is pretty similar to the type of offensive linemen that you see at Pine Bluff High. They are just an all-around solid football team.”
Senior running back Devonte Battles continues his tremendous start to the season rushing for nearly 600 yards through four games this year. Battles scored four times last week against De Queen. Shelton talked about how the running game will be an important factor in this matchup along with Battles and company.
“I think if you were to talk to Devonte, he knows that what happens in terms of running the football starts with our offensive line,” Shelton said. “We’ve been very well pleased with their growth over the last several weeks. I’ve said all along that the offense on a football team is kind of like a Christmas tree, the receivers and the quarterbacks, those guys are just like ornaments and their only as good as the tree. We’ve been improving (up front) and we’re hoping that trend continues.”
The Wildcats and the Bobcats are set to kickoff from Foy Hammons Stadium at 7 p.m.