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Bucks ready for road tilt

by Jason Avery | September 23, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

After suffering their first loss of the season, Smackover bounced back in resounding fashion by picking up a win over Hampton last week.

Now the Bucks are looking to keep that momentum going with a road tilt at James Bowie (Texas) that serves as the Bucks’ final non-conference clash.

Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

While the Bucks (3-1) got back into the win column last week, the Pirates (2-2) have alternated wins and losses in their first four games, falling to Honey Grove (Texas) 40-6 last week.

The game was a late addition and leaves the Bucks with only one week off prior to their showdown at Junction City next month instead of two.

The game also has a tie-in with Smackover’s Mike Poff serving as a coach at James Bowie before coming to Smackover.

“We both had two open weeks in a row so it kind of fell in place,” Smackover coach David Osborn said. “Coach Poff coached at James Bowie for several years before he came to Smackover.

He taught and coached the current superintendent at James Bowie. After a few calls, it worked out for us for the home-and-home series. 

“It's going to be a good experience for our kids to get to play a team from Texas and it's almost like a homecoming for coach Poff. Once it fell in place, it's just been a game that we have been really looking forward to.”

Osborn said the Pirates’ aggressiveness stood out when watching film. 

“They do a really good job of coming off the ball,” Osborn said. “They are very aggressive on both sides of the ball. They are very fundamentally sound and will get after you for four quarters.”

The Bucks’ defense will be challenged by the Pirates’ rushing attack with Osborn listing junior quarterback Logan McCullough, junior running back Lane Johnson, junior fullback Dylan Braley, sophomore running back Tyner Melton and senior fullback John Sabitsana as players the Bucks must account for.

“They are a heavy run-based team,” Osborn said. “They like to line up with a tight end or even a double tight end look and will run right at you. The offense is very straightforward with a little misdirection mixed in. Scheme-wise, they seem to want to overload you and try to get numbers on you.”

When the Bucks have the ball, they will be looking at a defense that is rather flexible.

“They run a 4-3 base,” Osborn said. “It's adjusted quite a bit based on who they play.”    

Osborn cited junior defensive tackle Rhett Tucker for his size and how he moves along with sophomore Austin Allen for his ability to come off the ball hard and move the line of scrimmage. 

Johnson, who joins Melton as a player who can make big plays at any time in the offense, is also a standout at outside linebacker.

Sabitsana also got praise from Osborn for his work at outside linebacker.

Against Hampton, the Bucks established the pass early on, which was something Osborn wanted to see in order to loosen up the defense to run the ball.

D’Kylan Hildreth threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to RJ Boone in the first half, as well as a 15-yard strike to Daylon Curley in the third quarter.

“It was big for us,” Osborn said of the win. “After watching the film, we had decided that we were going to focus on our pass game to try to move them out of the box, which would help with our run game. It was good for our kids to see that short quick passes can develop into big plays if you get it to the hands of our playmakers. We were able to get eight different skill guys the ball on offense and spread it around.”

In addition to his touchdown catch, Boone had touchdown runs of 70 and 53 yards that put the game away, but the Bucks will be short-handed after two players were suspended for their roles during a skirmish in the game.

“We will be down two players this week from the previous game, which will hurt,” Osborn said. “As a team, we will just need to pull together and try to replace the holes. It will be a learning experience for the group. It just shows that events like this impact the team as a whole and not just individual players. The coaching staff talks about situations like this all the time. We even went over it at halftime last week. No matter what happens, you cannot respond or instigate a situation. We have to let our play talk for us and not respond.”

For the Bucks to pick up a win on the road, Osborn said there were several things his team must accomplish.  

“We have to get our playmakers out in space again,” Osborn said. “Our fronts must do well on both sides. We cannot allow them to control the line of scrimmage. We must limit the penalties and careless mistakes of the past few weeks.” 


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