Chances are the Pine Bluff Zebras will host a first-round playoff game, but if they don’t, their seniors went out on a high note.
Pine Bluff, which looks set to receive no worse than a No. 4 seed in the 6A state playoffs, routed Sheridan 48-0 on Senior Night Friday at Jordan Stadium.
“I thought that was big,” Zebras head coach Bobby Bolding said of getting the win for the seniors. “They’re a great bunch of kids.
“Most of them are three-year guys, well, really six year guys because they’ve been with us since seventh grade.
“Hopefully we’ve still got some football ahead of us before they call it a career.”
Sheridan’s (2-7, 1-5 7A/6A-South) offense had Pine Bluff (5-3-1, 4-2) on its heels on the Yellowjackets’ first two drives. A good mix of runs and short passes allowed Sheridan to cross midfield on both occasions.
“We had some success and were able to move the ball,” Sheridan head coach Louis Campbell said. “We just killed ourselves.”
On their first two drives, high snaps were the killer. The Yellowjackets sent snaps over sophomore quarterback Dustin Reid’s head on fourth-and-short plays from Pine Bluff’s 42 and 44, respectively.
“That really set the tone for the game,” Campbell said. “But we didn’t tackle them at all.
“So snapping it over our own head didn’t get us beat.”
But it did help Pine Bluff take an early 14-0 lead.
One play after Reid recovered the first high snap at his own 35-yard line, Pine Bluff sophomore running back Romar Reades scored on a 35-yard touchdown run.
After sophomore defensive end John Tate recovered the second high snap, Pine Bluff senior Trevor Hunt scored the first of his two touchdowns on the night to give the Zebras a 14-0 lead less than 8 minutes into the ballgame.
A week after turning the ball over seven times in a 21-14 loss to El Dorado, the Zebras had no turnovers against the Yellowjackets.
“We actually ran the seven plays (which ended in turnovers the week before) in the first 10 plays,” Bolding said. “We wanted to be able to run them with the same kids doing it.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Bolding was proud of the way his team adjusted after Sheridan’s first two drives.
“They did some things they hadn’t done,” Bolding said of the Yellowjackets. “They had formations and schemes that we hadn’t seen on tape.
“We hadn’t seen any bunch sets out of them, but they did that a lot.
“So we had to adjust on the fly, but it was good that we got to see that because we could see that in a few weeks.”
While, Pine Bluff’s defense was making adjustments, Sheridan’s D couldn’t find an answer for the Zebras’ rushing attack.
Pine Bluff put up 27 second-quarter points highlighted by a 65-yard punt return touchdown by sophomore Braylen Jones and Hunt’s second touchdown — an 80-yarder that came with 15.6 seconds left in the opening half.
Pine Bluff’s lone second-half touchdown came on a 13-yard TD run by sophomore Kalumm Moore, but the highlight of the final 24 minutes came when kicker Jairo Ledesma booted the ensuing extra point right between the uprights.
With it being Senior Night, it was fitting that a 12th-grader scored the final point of the evening.
“It was really special,” Bolding said. “I know a lot of people would like to have him.
“A few years ago we couldn’t find a kicker and we had to go for two (points) every time, so we would have killed for a guy like Jairo.
“He’s a great kid to be around and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”