JONESBORO — Homecoming week finds the Westside Warriors looking for a better start than they had on the road last Friday.
Rivercrest scored three touchdowns in the first quarter, including two in the first four minutes of the game, and went on to beat the Warriors 35-14. Head coach Bobby Engle said his team gave up a score on a trick play in the first minute and had a miscommunication on fourth down that set up another early score for the Colts.
“I thought we came out really, really flat,” Engle said. “I could see it in the way we were playing and our posture, some of the things that were going on, on the field. I think we have to come out with a little more enthusiasm. It’s not that we weren’t prepared.”
Westside (1-4, 1-2 conference) will play Cave City (3-3, 1-2) this Friday. Kickoff at Warrior Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Friday’s game is pivotal for both teams as they battle for position in the 4A-3 conference race. Five of the league’s eight teams will advance to the state playoffs. Rivercrest and Trumann are tied for the 4A-3 lead at 3-0, followed by Pocahontas at 2-1. Westside, Cave City, Gosnell and Blytheville are all 1-2 in conference play.
“I think every week going forward is huge for us. We don’t really like to look ahead, but we kind of discuss the scenarios, like what happens if you win out. You could move all the way up probably to second,” Engle said.
“I really look for Rivercrest to probably end up winning the conference, as good as they’re playing. They’re a good football team, but you take away that first quarter and we’re tied 14-14. We’re a good enough football team to play with anybody in our conference if we just put it all together on that night.”
Both teams defeated Blytheville by the same margin, the Cavemen winning 48-21 and the Warriors prevailing 27-0. Cave City has lost its last two games, falling 16-13 to Rivercrest and 49-21 to Pocahontas.
“Similar styles of football,” Engle said. “I think they throw the football a little bit better than we do. I think our ground game is just as good as theirs. It’s just a matter of who’s going to make less mistakes.”
Engle said running back Cameron Hedger suffered an ankle injury in last week’s game. Hedger is the Warriors’ leading rusher for the season with 642 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished last week’s game with 47 yards on 11 carries.
“Hopefully he’s well enough that he can go Friday night,” Engle said, “but if he’s not, it’s just a matter of switching a few backs here and there, and we still have a good backfield.”
Fullback Darvin Fowler led the Warriors in rushing last week with 86 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Fowler has 186 yards on 37 carries for the season.
Westside holds a 7-2 all-time series lead. Cave City won last year’s meeting 22-19, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with less than two minutes remaining.
“Cave City, they’re big, they’re physical and they’ve got a really good football team,” Engle said. “We’ve just got to come out and play four quarters. We’ve really only done that once or twice all year. Hopefully we’re just waiting to put it together here toward the end.”