SHERIDAN — Last week, Sheridan picked up its first 7A/6A-South win of the season, but the Yellowjackets will have a tough time making it two wins in a row come Friday night.
That’s because Sheridan (2-6, 1-4) will be facing the reigning conference champion Pine Bluff Zebras (4-3-1, 3-2) in a road contest in both teams’ next-to-last regular season game.
“They’re well-coached,” Sheridan head coach Louis Campbell said of Pine Bluff. “They’re big, fast and physical.
“They will just run it down your throat.”
Campbell knows his team will need to slow down Pine Bluff’s rushing attack to have a chance in the game.
“We can’t give up the big play,” Campbell said. “We know we’re going to miss some tackles.
“That means we’re going to need to have people gang-tackling.”
If the Zebras are able to run the ball, it will open up the play-action passing game, which is something that will challenge the discipline of the Yellowjackets’ secondary.
“That’s the problem,” Campbell said of getting caught by the play-action pass. “They run it so well we’ve got to be very disciplined in the back.
“We told them they’ve got to be disciplined with their eyes. …
“If we do that we’ve got a chance to be successful.”
In last week’s 18-15 win over Little Rock Fair, Sheridan overcame an early 15-0 deficit.
“We threw an interception and they ran it back 75 yards for a touchdown,” Campbell said. “Then they intercepted another pass and got it down to the 35-yard line (to set up their second touchdown).
“You can’t turn the ball over like that in any ball game and expect to win, especially when you play somebody like Pine Bluff.”
The Yellowjackets will be trying to beat the Zebras without their two best running backs.
Seniors Braden Lunday and Mackenzie Jones are both done for the season after suffering leg injuries earlier this month.
According to Campbell, Lunday’s injury — a broken bone in his leg — occurred in the week leading up to the team’s game against Bryant on Oct. 18, and that Jones’ injury — a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee — happened early in the game against Bryant.
Campbell has been impressed with how the two seniors have responded to the setbacks.
“It really shows what kind of people they are,” Campbell said. “They are at every practice and every meeting.
“At practice they are back there helping (sophomore running back Brockton) Brown and the guys we’ve moved over from defense to play running back.
“They are still into it. …
“They just want to help the team any way they can.”
Campbell knows his team’s offense will have to control the tempo to be able to pull off the upset on Friday night.
“First thing is we can’t turn the ball over,” Campbell said of his team’s keys. “We have to be able to execute on offense.
“With injuries we’ve had to use our second- and third-string center sometimes, so we’ve have some problems with snaps.
“So we’ve got to be able to execute the snaps and, of course, execute our plays, which for us means we have to be able to run the football. We need to be able to do that to make our passing game work.”
Even if they aren’t able to put points on the board, Campbell said his offense needs to be able to keep Pine Bluff’s offense off the field.
“We need to be able to sustain some drives,” Campbell said. “It’s important so we can give the defense a chance to rest.
“If we can do that, hopefully we’ll have a chance to win the game late.”
Even still, Campbell knows it will take more than a solid offensive performance to leave Pine Bluff Friday night with a win.
“You’ve got to play a total game to beat a team like Pine Bluff,” he said.