The No. 3 seed White Hall Bulldogs (8-2, 5-2 5A-South) will head on the road for the start of the 5A playoffs with a visit to the No. 2 seed Little Rock Mills Comets (8-2, 5-2 5A-Central) on Friday night at Mills Stadium.
White Hall and Mills are no strangers to each other. They matched up regularly when both teams were members of the 5A-Southeast Conference from 2002-2011. White Hall has won seven of the past 10 meetings, but seven of the 10 were decided by a TD or less, including two games that went into overtime.
White Hall head coach Mike Vaughn is well aware of the history between the two teams and knows exactly what to expect when the two teams meet on the gridiron.
“We always had close games,” Vaughn said. “When we were in the conference, it was always our last conference game. Every single year when we played them, depending on who won the ballgame, was probably in the playoffs or positioning themselves for the playoffs. It’s been a tremendous series for us and this year is no exception.”
White Hall is led on offense by juniors Kirk Baugh and Kendrick Edgerson. Baugh has passed for over 1,200 yards while Edgerson has rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 17 TDs on the year. While the numbers have been good, White Hall has battled injuries all year, including losing senior running back Irvin Tisdale back in week five to a broken collarbone. Vaughn said they are still keeping an eye on their injuries.
“We haven’t practiced him all week long,” Vaughn said of Edgerson, who took a shot to the head last week at De Queen. “We’re concerned about him playing, but everybody has injuries this time of year.”
Vaughn said while they have been bothered by injures, they have gotten healthier in other key positions to move forward.
“They have been beat up and hurt all year long,” he said of his offensive line. “Right now, knock on wood that no one gets hurt, we’re probably as healthy as we have been all year. You go as your offensive line goes. If they can block and control the line of scrimmage, we have a chance to play well.”
White Hall, currently ranked ninth in 5A by Hootens.com, will look forward to a tough matchup against 12th-ranked Mills. Vaughn said Mills has a great football team and they will be in for a battle on Friday night.
“They have a tremendous football team,” Vaughn said. “They are going to run at us and run at us. They have a lot of power and a lot of speed. It’s going to be difficult for us in the style of offense that they run. Defensively, they will probably be balanced. They’re well coached. Coach (Patrick) Russell and his staff do a great job. It’s a good challenge that we have prepared for.”
Assuming both teams take care of business, the Bulldogs could have a potential matchup against the No. 1 seed Alma Airedales on the road. Vaughn said his boys will be focused on their matchup with Mills and nothing else.
“No, we don’t have to worry about that,” he said of his boys potentially looking ahead to Alma. “Our guys know (about Mills). We know how good they are.”
“Anybody who watches them on film has to be a little afraid,” Vaughn said with a laugh. “If they’re not afraid, they will be afraid, so I don’t think it will be a major problem. Once you get to the playoffs, some teams are going to want to play and some are not. We talk about how badly do you want to continue to play and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Bulldogs and Comets are set to kick off at 7 p.m.