In a rematch of last year’s opening round, the Dollarway Cardinals will host 3-4A opponent Jonesboro Westside Friday night at Cardinal Stadium in the first round of the 4A state playoffs beginning at 7 p.m.
“We looked at last year’s film and made sure they understand what mistakes they made and correct those issues,” Dollarway head coach Cortez Lee said. “We also have to take them for what they’ve done this year and execute our game plan.”
Dollarway (10-0, 7-0 2-4A) captured their first outright conference championship since 2004 and the No. 1 seed for the playoffs following last week’s 48-7 win over Heber Springs. It is also the first time the Cardinals finished the regular season undefeated since 1992.
Jonesboro Westside (6-4, 3-4 3-4A) hasn’t won since beating Brookland 42-22 in Week 7. Senior quarterback Chase Mann and senior running back Mickeal Quillman lead the Warriors.
“We understand their quarterback and running back are the key components to their success,” Lee said. “If we execute and play our defense, then we should be successful.”
Mann finished the year with 1,193 yards rushing and 302 yards passing for almost 1,500 yards of total offense. Quillman had 1,013 yards rushing and 167 yards receiving with 11 total touchdowns.
It is the first time in Westide school history in which two skill players have rushed for over 1,000 yards. Head coach Chad Mitchell said it is a “pretty big milestone.”
“Usually, we just have one good running back or quarterback, but we dug through the record books and this is the first time it has happened,” Mitchell said. “Our offense has had some success and hopefully we can build on it and do it again next year.”
Dollarway junior running back Keshawn Williams and senior quarterback Joshua Liddell have rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns this season.
“Their skill guys are pretty talented,” Mitchell said. “They are a good solid football team.”
Lee said nothing has changed this week as far as preparations are concerned.
“We aren’t trying to change it up,” Lee said. “I mean, we worked on our conditioning and our stamina some but we just want to do the same thing we have been doing.”
Dollarway has allowed fewer than 10 points in seven games this season — including four shutouts — and no opponent has scored more than 19 points.
“The way we try to look at it, it is a team thing,” Lee said. “Each component, each aspect can win the game. We aren’t trying to lean on one side or the other.
“… Of course if our defense is strong, we know we have a good chance to win.”
Martin to miss the playoffs
Unfortunately for Dollarway, the Cardinals will be without defensive line coach Fred Martin, who had to leave during last week’s game against Heber Springs following a blow to the knee.
On Wednesday, Martin had surgery on his quad muscle and will probably miss the rest of the season.
“We spoke to him (Wednesday) before the surgery and we showed him a lot of support and love and wished him well,” Lee said. “We wanted to let him know we are going to play hard for him.”