Steven Hampton was fairly pleased with Nettleton’s offense last week at Pocahontas. He thought the Raiders’ defense played well, too, after yielding two early scores.
The kicking game was another story.
Pocahontas blocked a punt for a touchdown in its 35-27 victory. The Redskins also enjoyed good field position after kickoff returns, Hampton said, consistently starting drives near midfield.
“From week one, we knew there were things that we needed to improve in special teams and we thought we could improve, and those things showed up again last week,” said Hampton, the Raiders’ head coach. “It just let us know that we have to make some changes, whether that’s personnel or that’s scheme, for us to be able to improve in those areas. Special teams were critical last week, so we’re going to try to do some things different and hopefully those things will pay off for us and help us out, especially with field position.”
The Raiders (1-1) hope to fix their kicking game issues when they travel to Mountain Home (0-1) to conclude non-conference play tonight. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Nettleton ramped up its offensive output last week, finishing with 412 total yards. Quarterback Cameron Scarlett finished with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, also completing 10-of-21 passes for 125 yards and another score. Scarlett is up to 292 yards and four touchdowns through two games.
Running back O’Rion Pugh gained 98 yards on 23 carries, while Jaylen Scales added 49 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Kyle Tolley caught six passes for 91 yards.
“As far as stats go, we had over 100 yards more total offense than they did, but a lot of that had to do with field position,” Hampton said. “They didn’t have to drive very far a lot of times. I thought we ran the ball well. We have to get a little bit better at throwing and catching, but overall we did some good things.”
Sophomore linebacker Blake Brown was Nettleton’s defensive player of the game with 11 total tackles, including seven solo tackles. Linebackers Martiss Buchanan and Doniquias Willis had 10 and nine tackles, respectively, including eight solo stops for Willis.
Mountain Home’s losing streak reached 23 games with its 48-34 loss at rival Harrison. Hampton said the Bombers are much improved under new coach Steve Ary, however, and they gave Nettleton trouble last season before falling 28-26 at Raider Field.
Bomber quarterback Bryce McKay finished with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries, also completing 12-of-26 passes for 120 yards and a score. Gage Hershberger added 102 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, also catching a touchdown pass.
“To score 34 points against Harrison obviously gets our attention. They’re trying to mix it up, run and pass, and they’ve got a big offensive line,” Hampton said. “Then the running back and quarterback are really good runners. They’re not make-you-miss kind of guys. They’re the kind of guys who are going to try to run over you.”
Nettleton has an open date next week. The Raiders start 5A-East conference play Sept. 25 at Batesville.