Greenwood football coach Rick Jones went about his work last Sunday afternoon as if the Bulldogs were about to face an undefeated Southside team — not the one that lost 37-7 last week at Conway.
"That’s an aberration for them," Jones said. "You look at them last year and this year and they can beat anybody in the state of Arkansas and we know that. It’s a great rivalry game — I don’t know if it would matter if we were both 0-7. It’s become a good rivalry."
Jones’ Bulldogs will carry a 45-game winning streak to Rowland Stadium today, a streak that began in October 2010. It’s the third-longest streak in state history and the fourth-longest active streak in the country behind Ithaca, Mich. (50), Regina High (Iowa City), Ia., and Bellevue, Wash. (47).
In addition to its overall streak, Greenwood has also won 25 consecutive games in the month of October. The last time the Bulldogs lost in the month was in October 2008 to Shiloh Christian.
There are no such streaks to be found at Southside. Emotionally drained following last week’s loss at Conway, the Rebels had more to worry about this week than Greenwood’s winning streak.
Southside has dealt with a number of injuries, most notably to its group of running backs — Quincy Whitfield, D’erek Fernandez and J.D. Rivaldo.
"You look at Greenwood and the first thing everybody wants to talk about is the streak, which is an amazing deal," Williams said. "I remember when Barton won 64 in a row in the 80s and early 90s, how dominant they were. We have had a good week of practice. Our kids have been focused and are excited about playing."
While Greenwood was toying with Little Rock Hall last week, extending its streak without breaking much of a sweat, Southside was struggling. The poor outing at Conway forced the Rebels to take a long look in the mirror.
"We have done some soul searching this week," Williams said. "I know what kind of team and seniors we have and I know they will put the best foot forward and play their best football."
Both the Bulldogs and Rebels have outstanding quarterbacks, with Jabe Burgess already eclipsing the 1,000-yard plateau for passing while sitting out two games with injuries. His numbers are skewed a little, as well, because most of the time he has been replaced by backup Reid Wheeler before the end of the third quarter.
"They obviously have a great quarterback in Burgess; he’s an exceptional talent," Williams said. "Their offensive line is very impressive; one of the best in the state. Their defense is stellar. They create turnovers and they’ve only given up like nine points a game. So they are a complete football team. This will be a big challenge for us."
Southside quarterback Ian Jackson could present some problems for the Bulldogs as well. He, too, has passed for more than 1,000 yards and he has the type of breakaway speed that gives defenses fits.
"He has the ability to make you miss, he can throw it over your head and he can do a lot of things most of them can’t," Jones said. "You have to make them earn what they get — you can’t give them chunk yardage. I think the main thing stems from being sound in what you’re doing."
Jones said he’s impressed with the Rebels’ defensive unit, even though it is allowing 17.4 points per game.
"They swarm to the ball so well, you have to be able to execute," Jones said. "We’re not going to trot out the wishbone offense we’ve been saving up, we have to be able to execute our offense. They give you enough schemes and different looks that they don’t let you get comfortable."
Greenwood at Southside
TIME: 7 p.m.
BROADCAST: KQBK-FM 104.7; KZKZ-FM-106.3.
RECORDS: Greenwood, 7-0, 4-0 7A/6A-Central; Southside, 5-2, 3-1.
FEARLESSFRIDAY.COM RANKINGS: Greenwood is ranked No. 1 in 6A; Southside is No. 7 in 7A
LAST WEEK: Greenwood defeated Little Rock Hall 38-6; Southside lost to Conway 37-7.
LAST TIME: Greenwood won 45-24 in 2012.