Warren has faced the multiple formations of Dardanelle, the athleticism of Arkadelphia and the big front of Valley View to reach the 4A state championship and tonight it will go against Booneville and its high octane running game.
The greatest asset of the Lumberjacks this season has been their speed. The will continue to utilize it across the board in tonight’s title game.
“We’ve got to play our game. We want to play fast and we want to make plays,” Warren head coach Bo Hembree said.
An emphasis on “we” in Warren’s notion of making plays should be made known. Through the course of the playoffs, junior quarterback Justin Gorman and junior wide receiver Darveon Brown came in at the quarterback position when senior quarterback Drake Jones came down with an injury.
Senior cornerback Chris Oliver had a key interception against Arkadelphia to prevent a change of momentum. And against Valley View last week, safeties Calyx Harris and Odis Miller probably made the most important strip and fumble recovery this season.
But against Booneville, everyone will have to make plays. For the Bearcats, senior quarterback Cody Harrel has ran for 1,203 yards and and 15 touchdowns this year. Junior fullback Bryson May has 1,277 yards and 25 touchdowns this season. Both players ran for over 100 yards against Dollarway last week to reach the finals with a perfect record of 14-0.
“They’ve been a grind it out, run at you, and get it third and short type of team. That’s what they want to do and we have to find a way to get them out of that,” Hembree said.
Junior defensive lineman Aaron Church will be lined up at the first line of the defense for the Lumberjacks and will challenge the point of attack against Booneville.
“You have to be the first person to step up and take initiative to make the mark on it,” Church said. “What they’re trying to do is get back behind me and block the linebackers.”
While Warren’s defense will do everything to ensure that Booneville’s offense is off the field, Warren’s offense will have to move the chains through running and passing the ball.
All of the Lumberjacks’ scores last weekend were on rushing touchdowns by Jones. The team was limited through the air due to the weather and has shown that when reduced to solely running the ball, they have to grind out to be effective.
“We have to score. They’re going to limit our possessions. So we have to take advantage of our opportunities when we have them,” Hembree said. “We’ll have a chance to move the ball so we just can’t turn it over and give them an extra possession.”
While conquering the major tasks to put them into position for this final contest, the team has found a balance between being disciplined and having fun. Being confident in their play and assignments allows them to enjoy what they’ve been able to accomplish.
“I think our kids understand that,” expressed Hembree. “They come to work everyday and work hard because they know the opportunity that they have in front of them.”