With their September schedule ending, Junction City has one final dress rehearsal before starting conference play in two weeks.
Tonight, the Dragons hit the road to take on 5A foe Beebe.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. from Bro Erwin Stadium.
The Badgers (0-3) have gotten off to a tough start, falling to Greenbrier 45-17 and Morrilton 31-26 at home before being upended at Lonoke 28-21 in their last outing two weeks ago.
The Dragons (2-2) enter off of a 40-28 loss at Haynesville (La.), which snapped a two-game winning streak.
“They’re a 5A school. They have lots of numbers,” said Junction City coach Brad Smith.
“They have pretty good size, a good base offense to look at. It will be quite a challenge.”
In the last two weeks, Junction City’s defense has had to contend with Lake Village’s Dead-T and Haynesville’s Wing-T. Tonight, the Dragons will see a variety of looks from the Badgers.
“Multiple. They go from spread to tight stuff. They’ve got about 50 different formations,” Smith said. “They change from here to there all the time. They’ll go from trips to some sort of heavy stuff, and that’s going to make us have to be more aware and use our eyes and our brains to get ourselves in the right stuff.”
Junction City’s ground game produced 230 yards against the Golden Tornado with Jordavion Williams racking up 160 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
“He played unreal,” Smith said. “He played early in the year, but got injured and missed the first game. We finally got him some action in the second game and third game. He stepped up to bat. He’s a home-run hitter. He is legitimately fast.”
Smith said the Dragons will have to find a way to combat the Badgers’ size on defense.
“They’re big and they play real smart,” Smith said. “You can really tell they’re focused on gap control.”
Junction City played last week minus AJ Ivory and Corey Dubose, and Smith said on Thursday that their statuses for the game wouldn’t be known until game time.
Smith said Ivory didn’t play due to a violation of team rules and Dubose is nursing an injury.
Although the Dragons fell, Smith said he was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The kids played really, really well and really hard,” Smith said. “We made just enough mistakes not to win.”
Defensively, the Dragons surrendered 483 yards of total offense including 384 yards rushing to Haynesville.
“We had trouble stopping their outside run game,” Smith said.
“We had to change to stop their outside run game, which opened up their inside run game. We tried to flip back and forth and they caught us a couple of times.”
Despite not having Dubose and Ivory, the Dragons had 301 yards of total offense while having the ball for just over 19 minutes in the game.
In addition to Williams’ effort, Jamal Johnson ran for a score and threw for another against Haynesville.
“I thought our offense played real well,” Smith said. “We had to do a lot of changing on Friday afternoon and they responded and played like we’ve been doing it all year. That was a huge bright spot on Friday night.”
Smith added that the Dragons’ performance should give them plenty of confidence going forward.
“It showed how much attention and desire that the young men we have want to play with,” Smith said. “The way they handled all the adversity that took place, they suited up and for the most part did what they were supposed to do.”
When asked if there was anything specific he wanted to see from his team in their final non-conference game, Smith said there was one thing.
“A little better execution. We need to be more consistent in our executing,” Smith said. “That’s what everyone is striving for.”
If the Dragons are to come away with their first road win of the season, Smith said there were three keys to success.
“Turnovers, take advantage of field position and control the football,” Smith said.