In a battle for the 8-4A Conference championship, Warren head coach Bo Hembree’s game plan is simple as the Lumberjacks travel to face off a Hamburg team that matches their undefeated conference record.
“We have to make sure we play sound on defense and not turn over the ball on offense,” said Hembree.
The winner of this matchup is not only playing for the conference title, but also for the No. 1 seed that comes with a home field advantage throughout the playoffs. History would dictate that Warren (5-3, 5-0 in 8-4A) would win against Hamburg since the Lumberjacks have won 13 out of the last 14 meetings, but this time presents a much improved Hamburg team (7-1, 5-0). While the Lumberjacks have won their conference games by an average of 47-6, the Lions have shut out five opponents this season while the offense averages 343 yards per game.
Senior defensive back Desmond Stanley is Hamburg’s lockdown corner and will be called upon to shut down either senior Eric Von Gonder, junior Jaylon Marshall or leading wide receiver in junior Darveon Brown for Warren’s electric offense.
Hembree acknowledges that this game may be different than the rest.
“They play faster than we are. They’re bigger than we are. It’ll be the first test we’ve had all year,” said Hembree.
Stuttgart at Lonoke
Stuttgart (4-4, 3-2 in 2-4A) did not allow Dollarway to score in the first quarter and played them tough before the Cardinals found their groove before the end of the first half to defeat the Ricebirds 32-13. Now the defending 4A state champions must look to bounce back and focus on their position in the playoffs.
“We pretty much are in the playoffs with wins against Clinton, Heber Springs and Batesville (Southside),” Stuttgart coach Billy Elmore said. “We’re just playing for the seeding of the No. 2 to No. 4 spots.”
Stuttgart travels to Lonoke (6-2, 4-1) tonight and the Jackrabbits are playing for positioning as well. The Ricebirds will be facing a Lonoke squad that is coming off a 48-point win over Marianna.
Senior Blake Mack accounted for 172 yards in last week’s victory and will challenge a Stuttgart defense that managed to yield a speedy Dollarway offense.
“I think we have to take care of the ball and slow down Lonoke’s offense,” Elmore said. “We did that last week but we were just unable to pull out a win.”
DeWitt at Star City
Star City (5-3, 3-2 in 8-4A) returns home tonight against DeWitt (4-4, 2-3) for its last home game of the regular season after dominating Lake Village on the road 49-18.
To get a win, Star City head coach Jett Furneaux knows that his team will need to be focused.
“We got to overcome some distractions. We’ve been out of school for two days and it’s our senior night,” Furneaux said.
DeWitt has not been in the playoffs since 2000, but has a chance to do so this year with two games left in the season. Furneaux takes into consideration the Dragons’ style of offense.
“They spread the ball around and they get in the gun which is something they haven’t done in a few years,” Furneaux said. “We can’t let them score early. Defensively, we’ve got to get the ball back.”
Monticello at Dumas
Monticello head coach Greg Tiner has the task of making sure his team bounces back after being shutout 42-0 last week by longtime rival Warren.
“The big thing is we still have a chance (to be) in the playoffs,” Tiner said. ” The last two teams that we play have the same record that we do.”
And even though Monticello (2-6, 2-3 in 8-4A) suffered a mercy-rule loss last week, the Billies managed to force two turnovers against a fundamentally sound Warren team. This same feat may need to be done to challenge Dumas senior quarterback Ryan Miller, who threw for three touchdowns last week in a win against DeWitt.
“They’re very athletic. We have to keep the football away from them and score points,” said Tiner. “We have to play well in all three phases of the game and be good in the kicking game as well to get a win at their place.”
Dumas is 2-6 and 2-3 as well.
McGehee at Smackover
McGehee sophomore Kaion Parker did a lot for his team last week when he caught a touchdown pass, returned an interception for a touchdown and ran for two more touchdowns as the Owls beat the Prescott Curley Wolves 32-6.
Although McGehee (5-3, 4-1 in 6-3A) has only one conference loss, the Owls travel to Smackover (8-0, 5-0) to face off a squad that is undefeated this season. The Buckaroos are coming off a 14-0 road win at Camden Harmony Grove in which junior quarterback Logan Clark connected with sophomore wide receiver Jordan Jones for both touchdown passes.
“Nobody has been able to beat them,” said McGehee head coach Marcus Haddock. “We have to make sure that we do everything correctly offensively and defensively to come home with a win”.
Camden Harmony Grove at Fordyce
After suffering back-to-back losses against Prescott and Smackover, Fordyce (6-2, 3-2 in 6-3A) got a victory last week 62-14 against a winless Drew Central. Tonight the Redbugs will have to protect their house as the host Camden Harmony Grove (3-5, 2-3), a team that Fordyce has lost to in each of the past three seasons.
“They’re fundamentally sound,” Fordyce coach Tim Rodgers said. “They don’t make many mistakes and they take advantage of ours. It really just comes down to them being able make plays and we haven’t.”
Fordyce’s rushing attack is led by senior Larry Buckley. Buckley has 58 carries for 406 yards and five touchdowns and represents one of the keys to what Rodgers feels is needed to beat Harmony Grove.
“The main thing is we have to protect the ball. We have to tackle well on defense. We haven’t done the little things, which is a reason why they’ve been able to win against us,” said Rodgers.
Parkers Chapel at Woodlawn
Although the record may not reflect it, the rushing attack of Woodlawn (1-5, 1-4 in 8-2A) has been quite productive this season. Last week against Strong, the Bears gained 229 yards on the ground.
“The kids have bought into the system,” Woodlawn coach Zach Branch said. “It’s not many teams that run this offense in the area, so the other teams don’t see how to prepare for a smash-mouth style of running.”
Parkers Chapel (2-6, 1-4) is coming off a 49-0 loss at the hands of Junction City. Branch will continue to utilize the Wishbone offense to make sure the Bears hand the Trojans another loss.
“We’re going to have to drive the ball and score points and eliminate big plays,” Branch said. “We got to make them earn everything they get.”