Smackover spoils DC’s Homecoming

Coaches everywhere say there’s no such thing as “moral victories.” A team either wins or it loses. After the last five years, though, Drew Central head coach Rob Cox admitted the separation between the Pirates and the top teams in Class 3A, District 6 is shrinking.
One of those top teams has traditionally been Smackover. Unfortunately, every other year, the schedule falls where DC has to play the Buckaroos in its Homecoming game. Friday was no different—but Cox saw a different Drew Central squad even though the final score was Smackover 26-8.
“The gap between us and the teams we’ve been getting beat by, historically speaking, is closing,” Cox said. “We are improving so much and playing better football than we ever have.”
Indeed, in the last five meetings with the Buckaroos prior to Friday night, Drew Central had been outscored by an average of almost 48 points—including being shut out in both 2015 and last season. Mistakes and a couple of what could have been blown calls made Friday night’s game appear more lopsided than it actually was.
“Smackover player extremely well,” Cox explained. “They executed on a few of our mistakes which resulted in an early lead. We held them at 20 (points) for a long time. It seemed like we would shoot ourselves in the foot when we would have a good drive going. Several trips to the red zone resulted in no points.
“We had them stopped on a third and 11 when the score was 20-8. They threw a quick pass to the side and it looked as if the ball hit the ground. However, their receiver ran for a first down and sucked the energy out of us. Towards the end of the game, we ran in for a touchdown, but the play was called down at the one-inch line.”
Smackover, which joined preseason 6-3A favorites Fordyce and Junction City at 3-0 in the conference following Friday’s games, jumped out to a 7-0 lead after one quarter and scored twice in the second period for a 20-0 halftime lead. Drew Central’s defense stiffened in the third quarter, though, keeping the Buckaroos at bay.
The Pirates cut into the lead on a 16-yard pass from senior Ansin Lattimore to sophomore Stevon Hall after intermission. Another 10th grader, Travarus Shead, ran in the two-point conversion—and suddenly, Drew Central was in striking distance in the third quarter.
The DC defense finally broke in the final period and allowed a late score, resulting in the 26-8 final, but Cox said he saw more good things than bad. This week, the Pirates get a break from their “Murderer’s Row” schedule of facing McGehee, Smackover and Fordyce in succession but have to endure (for the last time, in all probability—considering the Arkansas Activities Association will reclassify schools and change conferences after this year)—their annual long drive to the Texarkana area.  
“We have Genoa Central this week on the road,” the head Pirate noted. “They are fundamentally sound and will play hard. I was concerned about a few of our players going down in the Smackover game but it turns out they were small injuries, and all our kids are healthy for this week.
“It is their Homecoming and our kids are excited to get to play against someone on their Homecoming. Last year, we let them off the hook in a very close game. We are ready to get after them again this year.”
The Dragons, as did Drew Central, dropped to 0-3 in 6-3A last week in a 48-13 loss to McGehee but the Pirates have a better overall record—2-4 as opposed to 1-5. Elsewhere round the league, Junction City remained undefeated with a 50-0 whitewash of Fouke and Fordyce had little trouble with Lake Village Lakeside, winning 38-18.
Aside from the Drew Central-Genoa Central game this Friday, the league will separate somewhat as Fordyce goes to Smackover. That loser will suffer its first 6-3A loss of the season. Junction City visits Lakeside and McGehee joins Drew Central in having to make a cross-state trip when the Owls play Fouke, also in the Texarkana area.

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