Pine Bluff senior Trevor Hunt has only had one focus since the Zebras came up short in last year’s 6A state championship game.
He said he’s not alone in his motivation. He said the seniors aren’t the only ones thinking about it, either.
It’s something everyone who cares about Pine Bluff football has probably been dreaming about since last December, and thanks to the weather it’s something they have an extra week to think about.
“That was on everybody’s mind,” Hunt said. “Not just the guys that played in the game, everybody wants to get a ring.
“And wants to bring a ring back to the city.”
At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, Pine Bluff will get the chance to play for that ring against El Dorado on the same field it came agonizingly close to winning a state championship on last year.
Hunt is one of just a few Pine Bluff players to have played in last season’s 51-44 loss to Greenwood that extended the Zebras’ championship drought to 17 years.
Senior offensive lineman Stephen Watson described the feeling he had playing in that game versus Greenwood at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
“It was scary at first to see the crowd and everybody cheering.”
This time around, though, Watson expects to be calmer and hopes younger players follow suit.
“This game, I’ll be ready,” he said. “I ain’t got no jitters and I know what’s expected of me.
“I’ll tell (the younger players) to calm down. It’s just a game. It’s nothing major. Just a game with a bigger crowd and a bigger field.”
That attitude is partly why Pine Bluff head coach Bobby Bolding said he has been impressed with the leadership his seniors have shown this year with a talented but inexperienced group of sophomores on the squad.
“Those sophomores are who they are, because of those seniors,” Bolding said. “Those seniors have been patient with them.
“That was one of the things we talked about with our seniors in the summer, ‘Look these guys are not where you’re at (in regards to) skill level and understanding the game. And you’re going to have to teach them.
“And there’s going to be some bumps in the road along the way and don’t panic with them.’ And I felt like our seniors have done a really good job of that and our coaches have done a good job of not losing their patience.
“There were a couple of times, around Week 7 or 8, I was losing patience with them because at some point in time you have to grow up, but our seniors never (lost their patience). They kept them focused and really showed them how to practice and how to prepare.”
Watson thinks he and the other seniors closeness has helped them as leaders and helped lead to a unified goal.
“Last year, it was me, Dasmine Johnson and Trevor Hunt, the three of us we got the chance to play in the state championship,” Watson said. “So us and our other classmates are really tight together and we play for each other, play for one another, we do what we can to win.
“And that’s our main goal — just to win.”
Last week, Pine Bluff accomplished that goal and got some revenge along the way with a 37-34 win over Greenwood.
“It felt great,” said Johnson, a senior offensive and defensive lineman. “It was one of our biggest goals.
“We knew we would do everything we had to do.”
Even though the win felt great, Hunt said the team is far from satisfied.
“It felt good to beat them,” he said. “To lose to them last year and have a chance to beat them is great.
“But it’s not a ring yet.”