El Dorado will look to do something on Friday it hasn’t accomplished all season - win two games in a row. The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1) will travel to Sheridan for a 6A-East match-up against the Yellowjackets, who bring a record of 2-3, 0-2.
El Dorado is coming off a 70-38 win over Pine Bluff last week. Sheridan has dropped its last two, falling to Jonesboro 43-6 last week and Searcy 41-13 in its league opener.
“They’re giving up a lot of points but they’ve had a couple starters banged up. We expect them to be back to full force this week,” said El Dorado coach Steven Jones. “They’re going to put a team out there that’s eager to compete. I think we’ve got to be ready. We can’t overlook anybody in our conference. I think, top to bottom, anybody can beat anybody.”
In non-conference, Sheridan lost to White Hall 41-0 and beat Jacksonville (42-7) and Lakeside (24-7).
“Overall, I think they have some good players, starting with their quarterback. Their quarterback is their most dangerous offensive weapon,” Jones said of senior Konner Canterbury. “He’s a dual threat guy. Anytime you play a dual threat quarterback, you have to be disciplined in the box as far as (defensive) line and linebackers go. One of the best things they do is run, what most people now call power read. It’s where the running back is going to stretch the field horizontally and the quarterback has a chance of pulling it. He does a good job of waiting until the last second to make his read. I think that’s probably the best thing they do.
“He’ll read the end. They’ll pull their guard around. If the defensive end stays at home for the quarterback, they’ll have good numbers and hand the ball off on the fly sweep. If that defensive end tries to set the edge on that running back, he’ll pull it and go underneath with that guard as the lead block on that linebacker.”
Jones described the Yellowjackets’ offense as multiple, capable of using a fullback or going full spread.
The Wildcats will try to be adaptable on defense.
“It’s almost the same philosophy as take what the defense gives you on offense. We’re just going to respond to their personnel with our fronts,” said Jones. “If we feel like we need to adjust to a four front in the game, we will, but we’re going to base out of a three front, just like always.”
Sheridan’s offensive line averages 250 pounds from tackle-to-tackle, including 6-2, 315-pound Jackson Teague at right tackle.
The Yellowjackets usually start in a 3-4 alignment on defense.
“Defensively, they’ve not given up a vertical ball for a touchdown this season. That’s one thing that stuck out,” Jones said. “They really try to make you take the short game. They rally and tackle. That’s how Jonesboro played us. We’ve got to have a great plan for that. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Wildcats are averaging 43 points per game. Jones said each team has come up with different defensive schemes.
“We go into a week and feel like we have a grasp on what they’re going to do defensively. But then there will be teams like Jonesboro that gets into something that they haven’t shown on film at all,” he said. “When you’re scoring at the rate we’re scoring at, you have to be ready for everything. We’ve practiced against multiple fronts. We’ve practiced a lot on blitz pickup. Sheridan does like to bring an extra hat and try to pressure the quarterback. And, we’ve practiced against some man and zone coverage this week.
“You can anticipate and look at film and feel like you have a good idea of where they’re going to line up and where they’re going to play. But you’ve also got to be ready for a team to throw the kitchen sink at you when you have put up points like we have over the first five weeks.”
In Sheridan’s three losses, Jones said Jonesboro used a quick passing game. Searcy and White Hall were successful running the ball against the Yellowjackets.
“Stopping the run and making them throw it is a key on defense for sure,” Jones said. “Offensively, a key for us is just being consistent with our blocking out in space. If we have off coverage and we can throw fast screens, we’re going to take it. Outside the box, our receivers have to do a good job of blocking for one another.”
He said the Wildcats will need to be alert on special teams as well.
“They’ve shown onsides kick a lot so we’ll be prepared for that.”
In conference play, Searcy, Jonesboro and Sylvan Hills sit at 2-0 with El Dorado and Marion a game behind. The Wildcats still have an eye on the league’s top prize. But they can’t afford a slip-up.
“We’re going to get their best. They’re going to be ready to play,” Jones said of the Jackets. “In our conference, anybody you play is going to feel like they have a chance to beat you. You have to have a great week of practice each week and put a team on the field on Friday night that’s prepared and not looking ahead.
“Last two on the road, we’ve come up short. So, we want to finish. That’s the priority for us. No matter where we’re at, we want to finish the game but especially with the last two performances on the road. We want to make sure we put a complete four-quarter game together.”