Bucks, Redbugs ready for showdown
The last time Fordyce played at Smackover, they walked off the field with a loss. They haven't been defeated in 6-3A play since.
The Redbugs, winners of 13 straight conference games, return to Smackover nearly two years after losing their last conference game to tangle with the Bucks in a battle of 6-3A unbeatens on Friday night.
Game time is set for 7 p.m. Fordyce (4-2, 3-0) has bounced back from an 0-2 start to win four straight, while Smackover (4-2, 3-0) has won three straight after losing consecutive non-conference games to Harding Academy and Fountain Lake.
The Redbugs have a diverse running attack, as four players have rushed for over 200 yards.
But what really makes the Redbugs stand out is their youth.
Jaheim Brown, a freshman, guides the Redbugs' offense.
Brown leads the Redbugs with eight rushing touchdowns while averaging just over four yards per carry.
Although he has completed only 44 percent of his passes and has just one passing touchdown against three interceptions, Brown threw the ball well at Fouke, going 12-of-19 for 107 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the Redbugs' comefrom-behind victory.
Another freshman leads Fordyce's ground game.
Quartey Shelton has averaged 7.4 yards per carry en route to collecting 325 yards, the bulk of which has come in the last two weeks, as Shelton has picked up 129 and 125 yards respectively
against Fouke and Lake Village.
Tray Hudson, a sophomore, ran for 195 yards on just 10 carries at Monticello, while junior Wanja Morris averages 12.5 yards per carry and is also Fordyce's leading tackler on defense.
For Smackover coach Mike Baysinger, the Redbugs' different looks on offense will provide a big test for his team.
"They're going to be pretty good offensively and defensively. They're fairly young, but they're pretty good," Baysinger said. "They go from the Wing-T to spread, so they're going to be multiple with a lot of formations, but lean a little more towards the Wing-T right now."
Since 2010, the Redbugs and Bucks have met eight times with Bucks holding a 5-3 lead in the series, but Fordyce snapped Smackover's four-game winning streak in the series last year.
Now the Bucks and Redbugs meet with playoff positioning at stake, and Baysinger said his team's focus has been sharper than what it has during lackluster showings over the last three weeks.
"They seemed to be more focused than they have the last few weeks," Baysinger said.
Although it would be easy to get caught up in discussing potential postseason scenarios, Baysinger said that is something the team has stayed away from.
"We've kept to the basics," Baysinger said. "The coaches have talked a little bit about it, but we really haven't discussed it with the kids."
Smackover came away with their second straight road win in conference play by winning at Drew Central last week, and Baysinger said the Bucks were able to avoid the slow start that dogged them against Fouke and Lake Village.
"We actually started off pretty good, and then we kind of hung around," Baysinger said. "Our practice was better, but offensively, we're still hurting ourselves a little bit. Some bad snaps really killed us more than anything else, so I'd like some aspects of that fixed with that. Other than that, it was better."
Junior quarterback Roshard Boone had a solid night, completing 12 of his 17 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, both of which went to Jaqueze Modica, and Baysinger said the Bucks will have to be able to throw the ball against Fordyce.
"We kind of thought it was turning the corner, but we lost two starting wide receivers, so that kind of changed it a little bit for us," Baysinger said. "We're going to stay with it, and I think during the Fordyce game, we're going to have to run the football, but I think we're going to have to throw it to be successful."
Smackover's defense was on the field for 65 snaps and allowed 289 yards, but held the Pirates to just eight points.
"They did a good job," Baysinger said. "Drew Central moved the ball, but we kept them out of the end zone. We created a couple of turnovers, which was nice. I'll take that bend-butdon't break."
As far as being on the field for 65 snaps, Baysinger said the offense must be able to keep drives going in order to keep the defense off the field.
"I think it was more really of not sustaining drives offensively," Baysinger said. "We would move the ball well and then have a bad snap or a fumble. It was one of those things where they are a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust team. I was talking to somebody the other day, and McGehee had run 50 snaps in the first half. Sometimes some of those teams like that tend to run a lot of plays and keep the ball for awhile."
With it being a big conference game, Baysinger believes the Bucks will be ready.
"More spark and I think this also gives us a better idea of where we're at right now," Baysinger said. "This is going to be a good test for us. I think we've got to be sound defensively. I think we have to sustain drives offensively. I think we've got to put 10, 15-play drives together, instead of just one play, or two and three-and-outs. I think we have to be better consistently on offense. We just have to not blow assignments ourselves. We'll have a bad snap and you look up and it's second-and-18. Those things have killed us lately, so if we fix some of those small things, I really think we'll be OK."
Avoiding Panthers: Smackover's Jaqueze Modica tries to break from the grasp of Fouke's Charley Baker (7) and Kade Foster (4) as Haiden Jones (11) leaps over Modica during their 6-3A contest earlier this season at Smackover. Tonight, the Bucks host Fordyce in a clash of undefeated teams in conference play.