El Dorado will line up against someone other than a classmate for the first time in quite awhile on Friday. The Wildcats travel to play perennial 7A powerhouse North Little Rock in a preseason benefit game, beginning at 7 p.m.
“We’re fired up to play somebody else. There’s been a lot of scrimmaging each other since we started fall camp and all through the summer all the way back to spring ball. We’re excited to kick off the season and see where we’re at,” said El Dorado coach Steven Jones. “We’re going to get a real good idea of what our team looks like. We’re going to play North Little Rock, which has played in the last five 7A state championship games. They always have a really competitive team. They have a new coach. We expect to see a lot of different things from them. It’ll be a good test and also give us an idea of where we are.”
Jones said the format will be everything live except special teams. First half will feature first teamers with back-ups playing in the second half.
“Quarterbacks will be dead unless they’re running, unless they’re carrying the football. We’ll blow it dead if they’re in the pocket,” Jones said.
“I’m just looking for energy. I’m looking for effort. I’m just really looking to see how our guys respond to somebody else lining up across from them.”
The Charging Wildcats could be one of the most talented teams El Dorado faces all season. For the Wildcats, who have lofty goals, a tough test early could be a good thing.
“Over the last couple of years, I think they’ve had really good linebackers. Their secondary has a lot of speed. According to their coach, they’re going to run a lot of multiple fronts defensively. Offensively, I think we’ll see some tight end sets. They’ll be spread but more of a downhill running team. It’ll be a really good test for us,” said Jones, who said North Little Rock will present looks similar to Camden Fairview, El Dorado’s season-opening foe.
With Fairview eyes probably looking on, Jones was asked if El Dorado’s game plan will be vanilla or perhaps chocolate with sprinkles.
“I think we’ll let the game dictate that,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at. We’re fully installed offensively. But we’ll let the game dictate what we do. We’ll see what the defense gives us and that sort of thing.”
The Wildcats plan to travel with 65 players. Jones said only receiver Connor Black is expected to miss the game due to an injury.
How important will the final score be for El Dorado?
“I don’t even know if we’re keeping score but we’ll be keeping score in our heads for sure. It is important to see where we stack up in that first half,” Jones answered.
“Our preparation has gone pretty well this week. I feel like we’re ready to play. We’re excited to get it going.”