Greenwood finishes its three-game Little Rock run tonight against Hall in preparation for the meat and potatoes of the 7A/6A-Central.
"This is the time of the year that teams either start heading down or heading up," Greenwood head coach Rick Jones said. "The teams that are in it at the end are going to be on the up slope. The teams that won’t be in it will be on the down slope. You want to make sure that the preparation from week to week that you’re getting things done and you’re headed that way."
Greenwood won its 44th consecutive game last week with a 34-10 win against Little Rock Catholic and solidified the top seed for the 6A playoffs. The Bulldogs are also tied atop the 7A/6A-Central with Southside and Conway.
Hall has won just 18 games in the past 13 seasons but is obviously better this year under first-year head coach Tim Scarborough, who was an Associated Press Super Team running back for Little Rock McClellan in 1992.
"When you watch them on film last year, it looked like they were disengaged from time to time," Jones said. "This year, defensively especially, they’re playing really aggressive."
Hall quarterback Daniel Brown has accounted for six of Hall’s seven touchdowns this season and is a breakaway threat. He ran for touchdowns of 25, 6 and 5 yards in the season opening 42-40 loss to Sheridan and threw touchdown passes of 51 and 18 yards to Peyton Stevens, another speedster. Xavier Johnson ran for Hall’s other touchdown.
In a 36-8 loss to Little Rock Mills the next week, Brown hit Stevens for another long touchdown, that one covering 44 yards.
"They have some weapons," Jones said. "Brown can go, and their running back can go. They make critical errors at critical times of the game and it gets them behind the 8-ball. Then it’s a challenge to get back. They’re much improved over last year especially defensively. They can cause you some problems defensively because they blitz and they blitz hard. They come after you."
Greenwood quarterback Jabe Burgess has been cleared to return and will be back to guide the Bulldogs’ offense. He’ll probably see more blitzes on Friday than he has seen all season.
"They’re blitzing every down, and they try to put pressure on you," Jones said. "Their corners are really good players. You don’t see people getting behind them. They’re running the football, and they’re physical."
With Southside, Conway and Russellville coming up, the Bulldogs are hardly looking ahead and relaxing this week.
"We tell the guys every week that we’re not really getting ready for an opponent, we’re getting ready to play the best game we can," Jones said. "It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. We have three hard work days to get better, and if we don’t then somebody out there is and we’re wasting an opportunity to get better.
"We have a level of expectation when we go out on the practice field in terms of effort and in terms of execution, and we’re going to stay out there until we get it done."
Bret Calhoun led Greenwood’s defensive effort last week against Catholic with 10 tackles, including three for lost yardage. Justin Koch had a sack and two tackles for lost yardage. In all, Greenwood had 13 tackles for lost yardage. Korbin Waldemar also had three, with Justin Barker adding two. Gavin Heller, Nick Kleinschmidt and Colton Sims all had one.
The Greenwood defense forced five three-and-outs.