By Jason Avery
Another week, another big test for Parkers Chapel’s defense.
Tonight, one of the state’s most prolific offenses regardless of class visits Union County, as Parkers Chapel hosts Mayflower.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. from Victor Nipper Stadium.
The Eagles (2-0) have picked up right where they left off from last year when they won their first 11 games before seeing their season end at the hands of eventual state champion Rivercrest in the state quarterfinals.
After scoring 614 points a year ago, the Eagles have already tallied 112 points in wins over Central Arkansas Christian and Marshall.
Seniors Deon and Keon Simmons offer one of the state’s most lethal one-two punches.
As juniors, they combined for a total of 3,745 yards rushing and receiving with 65 total touchdowns.
Deon Simmons finished with 2,562 yards rushing with 43 total touchdowns, while Keon Simmons racked up 233 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Eagles’ second-round playoff win over Smackover.
“They’re definitely fun to watch,” Parkers Chapel coach Jacob Midyett said of the duo. “They are very fast. Keon is the running back, and he does a great job of really making one cut and going. They play him (Deon) at a slot receiver, and they like to hit him in the seam. Those two are responsible for a lot of their offense, and how could they not be. You’ve got to contain them.”
But while Mayflower’s offense certainly gets plenty of plaudits, their defense has been outstanding.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Eagles have held 11 of their last 14 opponents to 18 points or fewer, and Midyett cited seniors Dylan Burnett and Drake Wilkerson as two players they will have to account for.
“Their fullback (Burnett) plays outside linebacker. He’s very physical and comes off the edge really hard,” Midyett said. “Wilkerson also does a really good job of coming off the edge. They rush hard. Inside-wise, they play strong.
“Any time you’re in a 3-4, most of the time, you’ve got three dudes up front that you can lean on, and there’s no shortage of that. They do a good job of using their strengths and letting their skill guys play coverage and letting those outside guys rush off the edge hard.”
The Trojans were scheduled to take on Foreman last week, but the game was stopped after one period due to inclement weather.
Had the Trojans and Gators played their game to a conclusion, Parkers Chapel would’ve played three games in under two weeks, and the postponement allowed the Trojans a little extra time to recover for this week’s game despite playing a quarter on Friday.
“It’s definitely an advantage for us,” Midyett said. “We got a week to heal. We were a little banged up after two games in one week.
“It was a sloppy field last week, so we were thankful to get out of there with nobody getting hurt. We didn’t necessarily get a week off, but pretty much a week off.”
Although the game doesn’t formally go in the record books, the Trojans found themselves trailing 21-0 when the game was called, and Midyett hopes his team can learn from it.
“In that one quarter, we did get kind of stomped on a little bit,” Midyett said. “Hopefully, that woke them up, because honestly, we didn’t have a good week of practice last week. We preached all week and really the past two years about that if you don’t prepare to win, you’re not going to win.
“The games are won Monday through Thursday, and Friday is just a formality. That really showed Friday. We came out and really didn’t do what we practiced all week, and they jumped on us quick. Hopefully, that was a little bit of a wake-up call.”
If the Trojans are to knock off the Eagles, Midyett said they must limit big plays.
“We’ve got to contain big plays,” Midyett said. “We’ve got to limit our turnovers and mistakes and really execute our game plan. We feel like we’ve got a pretty good game plan in place.
“We have a good idea of what they’re hoping to do and what they like to do up front defensively and offensively.
“As long as we can follow through the game plan, I think we’ll have a pretty good matchup.”