The 6A East race has reached the midway point with Jonesboro and Sylvan Hills taking a one-game lead at 3-0. The rest of the field has thinned out and will get even thinner this week.
El Dorado hosts Marion at Memorial Stadium on Friday. Both teams are tied with 2-1 league records along with Searcy.
Wildcat fans were introduced to Marion years ago during former Coach Scott Reed’s tenure in the playoffs. Then, the Patriots were a one-dimensional running team. They’ve since changed to a passing offense. El Dorado defensive coordinator Trey Outlaw said the Patriots’ offense has made, yet, another transition.
“They sling it,” he said. “I say they sling it, they’ve been more balanced this year. They have a new head coach. Last two head coaches they had, they were air raid or throw it around. This year they’ve been more balanced. One game they’ll throw it around a lot. Next game, they’ll run it a lot. They’re a good football team.”
The Wildcats are coming off a 48-0 shutout at Sheridan. El Dorado led 42-0 at the half and was never threatened.
“They played good. I’m proud of them,” Outlaw said of the defense. “They did a good job of spreading the wealth with tackles. Pretty pumped for our guys to earn the shutout.”
Jyrin Steward led El Dorado with five tackles, including two tackles for loss. Rakel Williams had 4 ½ tackles with Javin Steward and Patrick Sixbey recording four tackles apiece.
El Dorado’s starters did not play in the second half.
The reserve Wildcats played a major role in preserving the shutout, stopping Sheridan in the red zone in the final period.
“I’m really proud of them. We tell them you always need to be ready, whether it’s a full sub or if we lose a guy to an injury or whatever. We tell them, hey, you have to be ready,” Outlaw said. “We make sure they understand the expectation is the same for them whether they’re a three-year starter or a guy who’s getting his first snap of defense. We expect them to prepare as if they’re going to play every snap through watching film and having a great week of practice. When they get out there on the field, we expect them to perform at a high level.
“They met that expectation and met the challenge. I’m very proud of them and they should be proud of themselves. Proud of all our guys. I thought they earned the shutout.”