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Wildcats prepare for Magnolia's flexbone

by Tony Burns | September 14, 2021 at 6:35 p.m.

Magnolia will bring an 0-3 record into Memorial Stadium on Friday for El Dorado’s home opener. Defensive coordinator Trey Outlaw doesn’t care about the Panthers’ record. He’s focused on their offense, a difficult to prepare for flexbone, option running attack.

“Honestly, I hate it. I coached in it at Wynne. It’s an offense that a lot of people think you run when you have bad players and that’s not the case. It’s an offense that you get players in space,” said Outlaw. “To me, it’s the same as spread. You want to get your best ball players in space and have them either one-on-one or just be able to get the ball to them in space so they can make plays. That’s all this is. They’re just doing it under center as opposed to in the shotgun.”

The Panthers fell to Little Rock Christian 42-27 last week after opening the season with losses to Harrison (26-7) and Crossett (15-3).

“They’re 0-3 but a couple of things on that, it doesn’t represent how good they are offensively. It doesn’t represent how good their players are,” said Outlaw. “Magnolia is a big game. It’s like playing Camden (Fairview), it doesn’t matter who’s on the field, both teams are going to show up and it’s going to be a blood bath basically. We could be 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in 6A and they could be 0-4 and ranked last in 5A, it’s still going to be a great game. As long as there’s a purple team and a red team, this week is going to be a great game.”

Magnolia, annually, features an athletic backfield. The Panthers offer a stable of ball carriers who can go the distance if a defender is out of position.

“They have two really good running backs. Quarterback makes good decisions. He runs the ball hard. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. Magnolia is a good football team,” Outlaw said.

“I know for sure, defensively, we have a challenge.”

Against a run-oriented team, the Wildcats will likely adjust out of their 3-4 alignment, at least on occasions. Senior linebacker Jyrin Steward will miss the first half of play. On Sunday, Outlaw wouldn’t name a replacement at that starting position.

As for the keys for El Dorado’s defense, it’s always to stop the run first.

“Get them in third-and-long. That’s the same thing with any offense. You want to make them be in a situation that makes them one-dimensional,” he said. “They’re a team that runs the ball the majority of the game. They still have that threat if you sell out completely to stop the run, they can throw the ball and score fast. We’ve got to make it to where they have no choice other than to do one thing.”

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