TEXARKANA — The Arkansas High Razorbacks take on the defending 6A state champion Russellville Cyclones Friday night at Razorback Stadium.
Aside from the defending state champs entering the Palace of Southwest Arkansas, what makes Hogs head football coach Barry Norton anxious about the Cyclones is they know how to win.
“The thing that scares you is they have experience at winning,” Norton told Michael DelGiorno on the weekly “Coaches Show” Tuesday. “That’s the thing that I don’ think that we can ever underestimate that. Winning and knowing how to win and having won matters. It really matters. I think this can be a big ballgame for the Razorbacks that could propel us forward if we come out and get us a win in this one.”
The showdown with Russellville is significant not just because of the opponent, but also because of the time of the season. Arkansas High brings a 3-1 record with a 1-2 conference mark into the contest. A win would certainly punch the Hogs’ ticket to the postseason.
Said Norton: “I think any team that makes it, this guarantees them a playoff spot. Then you start looking at playoff seeding. Do you get a home game in the playoffs? All of those things are starting to matter right now.”
Russellville sits at 3-4 with a 2-2 conference mark and are coming off a 38-13 loss to Greenwood at home. At this point in their banner year of 2016, the Cyclones were 6-1 and 3-1 in the 6A West with that loss also to Greenwood.
Go for it
Russellville hired Jeff Weaver from Little Rock Christian in the off-season. Weaver brings a unique video game-like philosophy to the gridiron in that his team goes for it inordinately on fourth down and looks to steal possessions with onside kicks.
“I think the last four games we broke down, or something like that, they go for it 75 percent of the time on fourth down,” Norton said. “Now, albeit most of those have been at midfield or on the good side of midfield that they’ve gone for it. So, they’re going to go for it. I’m saying if it’s fourth-and-18 they’ll go for it. They’re not punting the ball, which can be a good or bad thing. All you got to do is defend it and stop it and you’ve got good field position.
“They onside kick a lot. They onside kick fairly regularly, so we’ll have to defend those. We’ll basically have to go out with a hands team on every one of them. You put too many people up there and they kick it deep, and you start with bad field position. So, they have a theory to it.”
Arkansas High may have the winning formula if they can capitalize on the onside kicks and the subsequent good field position.
Michael DelGiorno and Greg Hogan will have the call from Razorback Stadium Friday at 7:00 p.m. with pregame at 6:00 p.m. on Fox Sports Radio 1400 and the Freed AM Sports app.