After winning their first two conference games by a margin of 126-14, Junction City is stepping out of the 8-2A for its final non-conference game with a trip to D’Arbonne Woods (La.) Friday.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.
The Dragons (4-1) have been dominant since dropping their season opener at Harmony Grove, ripping off four straight lopsided wins that includes a 41-0 win over Louisiana rival Haynesville last month.
For Junction City coach Brad Smith, playing Louisiana schools is something he would like to do more of.
“There’s so many more of them within 40, 50 miles,” Smith said. “There’s probably eight or nine different schools you can play of comparable size. There’s a bunch of opportunities there. You just got to get into that market.
“In other sports, it hurts them to play Arkansas schools. Football, it doesn’t. The only reason you don’t see a whole lot of it is because we’re off schedule with them. We’re a year apart on contract years, so when we got with Haynesville, we did a three-year contract just to cover their schedule and ours.”
D’Arbonne Woods (1-4) fell to Vinton (La.) last week, but snapped a three-game losing streak two weeks ago with a 43-12 win over Northwood (La.) with senior running back Jordan Hill racking up 337 yards rushing and four scores on 26 carries in the win.
“They’ve got a really, really good back,” Smith said. “He’s a big, strong physical kid. They feed him the football.”
A week ago, the Dragons used a balanced attack on offense to cruise to a 64-6 win over Hampton, and Smith was pleased with their performance.
“Our theory around here is we do what we want to,” Smith said. “If we want to run it, we’re going to run it, if we’re going to throw it, we’re going to throw it.
“I don’t believe in taking what they give you. I’ve always believed you take what you want. We ran the ball effectively and we threw the ball effectively.
“That’s what I want us to be able to do. To me, everything in life and in sports is about dictating. Whoever dictates, usually wins, and if you dictate what you want to do, it’s on your terms.”
Smith was also happy with the Dragons’ defense, particularly against the run.
“I thought for the most part, they played really, really well,” Smith said. “We had two missed tackles that probably cost us 40, 50 yards, but against the run, I thought we were really, really good. We put good pressure on the quarterback.
“They did not throw deep at all on film, so we knew blitzing was going to be something that we had to do so the next guys would see that we did, but we had to get pressure with our down people because they let it go so fast, and we got two or three sacks, two or three pressures.
“Something that we’ve kind of struggled with is covering backs out of the backfield, and we covered them really well the other night. I’m real pleased with everything.
“The first unit hasn’t given up points since about the six-minute mark against Smackover.”
A big reason for the Dragons’ success in the first half of the season has been the emergence of a couple of players taking on key roles.
“I know that will eventually end, but we’re picking up a guy every week. What I mean by that is every week somebody steps up and gets into the game as far as performance-wise, practice-wise,” Smith said.
“A couple of weeks ago, it was Logan Pepper.
“We kind of thought he could, but he never would, and all of a sudden, he did.
“We had Quincy Pitts before that. He was second, third-team guard, now all of a sudden, he’s a starting guard. If we can continue to do that, it just builds depth. The more guys that play and contribute, the better off you are.”
If the Dragons are to win their fifth straight, Smith said his team must avoid miscues.
“Protect the football, no stupid penalties, be alert, read our keys defensively,” Smith said.
“We need to stay low and get good pad level and be mentally focused and prepared.”