Although Strong didn’t get their desired outcome in their season opener last week at Hamburg, there were some things for the Bulldogs to build on.
Senior Derrion Davis rushed for just under 150 yards, and the Bulldogs played well in the second half, although a fumble at the end of a long run resulted in a touchback and a penalty negated a defensive touchdown.
On Friday night, the Bulldogs hope their continued work will lead to success, as Strong visits Lake Village.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.
A year ago, the Beavers (1-0) came away with a 20-6 win over the Bulldogs (0-1) at Jerry Burson Field.
Lake Village opened their season last week by topping Greenville Christian (Miss.) 52-43 at home in a shootout.
The Beavers rolled up 533 yards of total offense with junior Henry Taylor (136) and seniors Malakai Armour (106) and Anthony Jones (103) all rushing for over 100 yards in the win.
Senior James Nowden added 87 yards rushing and a touchdown on 13 carries. A linebacker on defense, Nowden was credited with 17 tackles in the Beavers’ win.
Armour, who collected his rushing yards on just four carries, also had identical numbers receiving, finishing with four catches for 105 yards with a touchdown.
“They’ve got pretty good skill players,” said Strong coach Sirl Wright. “They’re raw, talented skill players. They really depend on their skill players to out-athlete the next guy.”
And while there will certainly be plenty of athleticism on the field on both sides, Wright said discipline could play a key role in who wins.
“I think it’s going to be who is going to be the most disciplined in dealing within the realm of their offensive capabilities and being disciplined on defense,” Wright said. “Who is going to run to the ball, attack and finish at the point of attack? I think it’s going to be a match of wills.”
A week ago, the Bulldogs were at a decided disadvantage with depth, and that played a big role against the Lions.
“Overall, the matchup was a 2A school against a 4A school, and I think Hamburg is one of the bigger 4A schools,” Wright said. “They had the depth advantage, and they could rotate defensive lines, so where our guys were still beating as a drum, the other ones were drinking water or Gatorade on the sideline getting ready for the next set. That played a significant role.”
One area that Wright was pleased with was that the Bulldogs held up playing their first game in the searing heat.
“Overall, I felt pretty good as far as conditioning,” Wright said. “Derrion cramped up on the last play of the game, but it took three hours before he cramped up, and he had a pretty big load to carry that night. I don’t care if you have a lot of depth or no depth, you’re going to have fatigue. There’s no way to get into game shape unless you play the game.”
After a tough first half, Wright challenged his team, and they responded.
“They took their lumps,” Wright said of the first half. “Hamburg had the momentum in the first half and our kids kind of got down on themselves. The big halftime speech was basically, ‘Stand up, do your job.’ We made some halftime adjustments and I just challenged them.
“I said, ‘You know you’re going to see the majority of their backups and maybe a series or two of their ones, but challenge yourselves to win the second half.’ We scored six points, but we squandered two opportunities to get more. They competed in the second half. At the end of the game, I was absolutely happy compared to what we had to deal with in the first half.”
If the Bulldogs are to win their first game, Wright said his team cannot lose focus.
“The bottom line is execution,” Wright said. “Being precise and knowing your assignment and doing your assignment with tenacity, aggression. From there, I think we’ll be fine. Lake Village is a formidable opponent, but I think they’re a lot more closer to our level than Hamburg.”