PARAGOULD — Coach Steven Hampton is stressing a standard, not the scoreboard, as Nettleton pushes deeper into 5A-East conference play.
The Raiders have reached the halfway point of the regular season without a loss. While they start the second half of the season against a winless opponent, Hampton isn’t concerned that Nettleton’s focus might wander tonight at Paragould.
“We talk in terms of playing to a standard that we have set, that we want to achieve. It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Hampton said. “We want to play to that standard, offensively and defensively. We’ve got things we want to accomplish and a way we want to play. That’s more of our mindset, that we’re trying to preach to our kids and teach them. I feel good about our kids that they’re buying into that mindset. I think our kids will come out and play hard.”
Nettleton (5-0, 2-0 conference) outscored Batesville and Brookland 73-14 to begin 5A-East play. The Raiders produced a 516-183 advantage in total yards last week as they earned a 47-7 victory at Brookland.
Hampton said the Raiders met their standard in last week’s game.
“Our kids, we’ve challenged them defensively to be the best defense that Nettleton has ever had. We want to play physical, we want to play fast on that side of the ball. When you look at the film, our kids were doing that,” he said. “And offensively, we want to set a standard of being the most prolific offense that Nettleton’s ever had, of having that mindset of going out and being physical on the offensive line, because that’s where it starts for us. I thought both sides did that last week.”
Nettleton’s defense had 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage last week, two-thirds of them coming from junior tackle Jordan Pigram (6-3, 260) and senior end Javontae Wallace (6-1, 240).
Pigram had five tackles behind the line of scrimmage last week, raising his season total to 11. Wallace finished with three tackles for loss against the Bearcats to boost his season total to seven.
“Jordan has gotten a lot of the limelight and rightfully so,” Hampton said. “He had five tackles for loss last week, but Javontae on the other side has the potential to be a very, very good player. When he turns it on, it shows.”
Offensively, the Raiders continued to show growth in the passing game as senior quarterback Cameron Scarlett was 8-of-10 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Scarlett has completed 57.3 percent of his passes for 588 yards and 10 touchdowns, with three interceptions.
Senior receiver Kenwarren McShan caught his fourth touchdown pass of the season last week. Senior receiver Jaden Brown, who caught his second touchdown pass in as many games, leads the Raiders with 15 receptions for 232 yards.
“There’s no doubt that the work (Scarlett) and his receivers put in this summer, throwing and catching and getting to know each other, is paying off,” Hampton said. “There’s a comfort level in knowing where his guys are going to be, knowing how they like to run their routes. The more time you put in with one another, the more chemistry you have. I think that’s what you’re seeing now.”
Senior running back Koby Bradley has 607 yards and five touchdowns rushing, while Scarlett has 555 yards and six touchdowns.
Paragould (0-4, 0-2) suffered a 37-0 loss last week at Batesville. Junior quarterback Ben Sloas has completed 48.7 percent of his passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions. Senior Jamison Davault has 168 yards rushing and 154 receiving while averaging 80.5 all-purpose yards per game.
The Raiders have won their last 10 meetings with the Rams, a streak that began in 2011. Nettleton leads the all-time series 27-14-1.