County high schools ready to play ball tonight.

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Ja­son Avery News-Times Staff

Per­haps the big­gest ques­tion sur­round­ing Strong as they head into Week 3 is whether or not they can han­dle pros­per­ity.

Af­ter a tough come­from-be­hind vic­tory last week against Min­eral Springs, the Bull­dogs hit the road for the first time this year when they play at Mar­i­anna.

Game time is set for 7 p.m.

A year ago, the Bull­dogs (2-0) held off the Tro­jans (0-2) for an 18-12 win at Jerry Bur­son Field, the first in coach Greg An­thony's ten­ure.

But with the Bull­dogs un­de­feated and the Tro­jans en­ter­ing af­ter two lop­sided losses to East Poin­sett County and He­lena-West He­lena by a com­bined score of 106-18, stay­ing fo­cused on the task at hand and not look­ing ahead to the start of 8-2A play is some­thing An­thony has stressed to his team.

"The main chal­lenge for us is not nec­es­sar­ily with them as much as it is with us keep­ing our level of in­ten­sity up and our mind­set right and not hav­ing a let­down," An­thony said. "Fri­day night was a big win for us, and you worry as a coach that the kids won't be as fo­cused or might over­look it, so the big part for me is keep­ing them fo­cused this week and not over­look­ing them and not look-

ing to­wards the con­fer­ence sea­son."

An­thony said the Tro­jans have plenty of ath­leti­cism on of­fense.

"They're ath­letic, es­pe­cially their skill guys," An­thony said. "They've got some speed and tal­ent at those po­si­tions. Their quar­ter­back is a pretty good player, so we'll need to keep him con­tained and not let him have a ca­reer night rush­ing. It will be hard for us to do, but I think we'll be OK."

An in­ter­est­ing facet to keep an eye on will be the bat­tle in the trenches.

Although An­thony said Strong will have the ad­van­tage in size, the Tro­jans have a unit that is very quick.

"Their line­men aren't real big, so we'll have the ad­van­tage up front. It's go­ing to be in­ter­est­ing to see how our line­men re­spond to a smaller, faster group up front."

Des­mond New­ton, who had 117 yards and a touch­down on 12 car­ries in last year's con­test, sealed the vic­tory with an in­ter­cep­tion with 32 sec­onds left in the game, and An­thony said the team has talked about last year's hard­fought win.

"We talked about that on Sun­day when we came in to lift weights and watch film," An­thony said.

"We watched a lit­tle bit of last year's film and watched this year's film. They're very sim­i­lar in what they do from what they did last year.

“We're stress­ing that we're not good enough to look over any­body right now. We're try­ing to get a good head of steam go­ing into con­fer­ence and build some con­fi­dence. I'm look­ing for­ward to con­fer­ence."

The start of the 8-2A sched­ule will be dif­fi­cult for the Bull­dogs, who will play Har­mony Grove and host Rison and Hamp­ton in their first three games.

With that in mind, An­thony said the Bull­dogs have gone back to ba­sics this week.

"We're us­ing this week as two things," An­thony said. "One is pre­par­ing for Mar­i­anna, but we're also us­ing it as an ex­tra week to get some stuff in that we hadn't nec­es­sar­ily worked on a lot since two-a-days to get ready for the con­fer­ence sea­son. It's go­ing to be a big week for us."

With the Bull­dogs off to their first 2-0 start since 2011, An­thony said that while his team has plenty of con­fi­dence, he is try­ing to keep them grounded.

"Their con­fi­dence is up there, but I try to knock them down a lit­tle bit ev­ery day," An­thony said.

"You've got to be care­ful. There's a bor­der­line be­tween con­fi­dence and cocky. I'm try­ing real hard to try and not let them­selves get into a sit­u­a­tion where we're go­ing to over­look any­body.

“As coaches, we try to find the small­est de­tail that we can find to harp on them all week. Some­times they look at me like I'm crazy, but I think that's just part of my job is to not let them get over­con­fi­dent."

A week ago, the Bull­dogs over­came a 10-point, third-quar­ter deficit to top Min­eral Springs, scor­ing three touch­downs as part of a five-touch­down bar­rage in a span of 6:22.

"I was stand­ing there, and when they went up 12-2, I walked by one of the as­sis­tant coaches, and I told them that we're in trou­ble if some­thing big doesn't hap­pen," An­thony said.

"It's go­ing to be hard to dig out of this hole be­cause we're down two scores. In the next se­ries, the fum­ble hap­pened, and I walked back down and looked at them, and I said, 'I think we'll be OK now.' Then I turn around and look and they're re­turn­ing one to the house, and I'm go­ing, 'Holy crap! Now what!' We got our­selves out of it, then we're right back in it. The guys re­sponded and went right back down and scored, but it was a wild third quar­ter, it re­ally was."

If the Bull­dogs are to stay un­beaten, An­thony said how his team han­dles the long day of travel and their fo­cus will be para­mount.

"We're go­ing on a road trip that's a 3 1/2 to 4-hour drive, and that's the first road trip we've been on all year," An­thony said.

"I think how we han­dle the travel and the other thing, more than any­thing, is how we go into the game men­tally.

"I think our men­tal state of mind will de­ter­mine what hap­pens as far as how se­ri­ous do we take it. Are we too con­fi­dent in our­selves? Not over­look­ing any­body, but maybe not tak­ing it se­ri­ous be­cause we're 2-0 and they're 0-2, and they've been beaten 44-6 and 62-12, so you look at those scores, and you're think­ing, 'Well, we're go­ing to go over there and this is go­ing to be easy.' So our men­tal­ity is go­ing to be a big­ger key than any­thing."

Ter­rance Arm­stard/News-Times

Safety: Strong's Chaun­dre White tack­les Min­eral Springs punter Dashawn Comp­ton for a safety in the first quar­ter of their game last week at Jerry Bur­son Field. Tonight, Strong plays their first road game of the sea­son at Mar­i­anna.

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