In the three games that Smackover and Prescott have played, the road team has been victorious.
If the Bucks are to stay in contention to repeat as conference champions, they’ll have to buck that trend, as Smackover hosts Prescott in a 5-3A showdown tonight.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.
The Bucks (2-3, 1-1) snapped a three-game losing streak last week at Horatio.
The Curley Wolves (3-2, 2-0) have won three straight after an 0-2 start. Last week, Prescott rolled past Bismarck 51-7, and Smackover coach Brian Brown was impressed with the Curley Wolves.
“They’re really good, well-coached,” Brown said. “They’ve got a lot of athletes, and they’re favored to win our conference again. We’re going to have to play really well and above our heads to win it.”
Junior quarterback Jacobi Nolen leads an offense that scored 107 points in wins over Hope and Bismarck.
Nolen has completed 64 percent of his passes for 576 yards with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. For added measure, Nolen averages four yards per carry and has five rushing touchdowns.
Senior Derriun Thompson is a threat both in the backfield and at receiver.
He averages a whopping 12 yards per carry while leading Prescott in rushing yards, and he also ranks second on the team in receiving yards.
Overall, Thompson has 560 yards combined with seven touchdowns.
“They run a spread. They’ve got a big back that they hand off to. He’s a big kid,” Brown said.
“They’ll throw the ball, and they’ll run the jet sweep with some of their receivers, so it’s going to be a tough game for us defensively. We’ve got to be on our toes the whole game.”
Junior linebacker Tywan Thompson paces Prescott’s defense with 38 tackles, and junior lineman Jack Arnette leads the team with four tackles for a loss, all of which came in the wins over Hope and Bismarck.
“They run a 4-3 in a cover-two look,” Brown said. “We know what they’re running, but they have some good players.
“That’s always the key is what are you going to do with certain players, and they’re good. It’s going to be a tough task.”
The Bucks bounced back from their loss to Centerpoint by rolling to a 56-12 win at Horatio.
Senior Jaqueze Modica showed why he is one of 3A’s most dangerous weapons by returning three punts for touchdowns.
A fourth was called back due to a penalty, and Brown ranked him as one of the top players he’s coached.
“Dynamic player,” Brown said. “One of those guys that can do stuff that you haven’t seen much before. I’ve coached a lot of really good players, and he’s up at the top of the list.
“A couple of those guys have played in the NFL. He’s got a long ways to go before that, but he’s got the stop and go ability.
“A lot of people can run in a straight line and run a 40, but that stop and go ability is something you don’t see often, and he’s got that. He’s a strong player also.
“A lot of people go, ‘Well, he’s just a little receiver running around out there.’ He’s real strong, and that helps him be who he is, which is a great player.”
So how will the Bucks get the ball to Modica knowing that Prescott will be keeping a close eye on the senior?
“We’ll do whatever. We’ve done it in the past,” Brown said.
“We’ll get him the ball whether it’s at quarterback, running back, receiver, kick return, whatever. He’s piling up those stats.
“He was our leading rusher until last week when (Dexter) Crockett went ahead of him. He’s our leading receiver. He’s our leading punt returner. We’ll get the ball to him.
“The key for us is just being consistent. With him also, we need to be consistent with what we’re doing.
“I think last year we struggled getting him the ball against Osceola (a 24-21 loss in the 2018 state quarterfinals), so we kind of learned our lesson there as a coaching staff, so we’ll be able to get him the ball. It’s going to be us blocking and taking care of our business up front.”
The Bucks’ defense struggled in their loss to Centerpoint two weeks ago, but Brown was pleased with their effort at Horatio.
“Those guys run the spread and I thought our defense played a great game,” Brown said.
“I think they had zero, or negative three or four yards rushing, and that’s the thing you want to do as a defense is stop the rushing attack. We had some backups in when they threw their touchdowns, and that’s fine.
“That’s part of who we are. We want to be able to develop guys behind our front line guys.
“I thought those guys got a lot of playing time and a lot of really good experience in that game.
“I think we shored up some things in the secondary that stuck out in the Centerpoint game. We cleaned those up.”
If the Bucks are to knock off the Curley Wolves, Brown said his team must win the turnover battle.
“We’ve got to win the turnover game,” Brown said. “That’s a big deal. We talked about that last week. We’ve not been good at that this year.
“We looked at that and talked about that before the Horatio game, so we need to do that.
“Special teams, we’ve still got to be good, which we’ve been decent after the Junction City game.
“We’ve been pretty good on special teams. We’ve got to continue down that road. On offense, we’ve got to be able to get first downs and move the ball and have good field position.
“Defensively, we need to make plays when we have a chance to make them. That’s always a big deal.”