BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Greenwood head coach Chris Young knows that the state’s high school football focus will be on his team’s Class 6A-West showdown with visiting Pulaski Academy on Friday night.
The Bulldogs (7-1, 6-0) will host the Bruins (8-0, 6-0) in a 7 p.m. matchup of 10-time state championship programs, current conference leaders and two teams regarded as top five teams overall in Arkansas this season.
“It is a unique challenge, but we are excited,” Young said. “We love playing great football teams and know our community is going to come out and pack the stands and going to give us an advantage.
“We have great respect for PA, but ours kids are not scared and they are excited about the challenge.”
Young knows that Pulaski Academy, averaging 52.7 points and 638 yards total offense per game this season, presents challenges that are different than other foes Greenwood has faced this season.
The Bruins don’t punt, go for two-punt conversions instead of extra points and routinely onside kicks after their scores.
“There are definitely some unique challenges that are different from anybody else you are going to see,” Young said. “Then when you combine that with the talent and coaching they have, it makes it kind of special and you see what you have the last 10 to 15 years there.
“Obviously defensively the challenges start with having to defend four downs instead of just three. They go for it on fourth down and if you stop them, it’s to your advantage, but if you don’t they just keep coming at you.
“There’s also the two-point plays, which are a big deal. If they do score, you have got to keep your head up because they are not going to kick extra points.
“And then there are the onside kicks. Some people think they just kick it over there, but they work on it and have great schemes. They are looking for an advantage on how you line up. There are six or seven different onside kicks that they’ll do.”
Greenwood lost its season opener to Oklahoma power Stillwater 41-27, but has reeled off seven straight wins since that defeat.
“We have gotten better week after week, but playing teams like Stillwater – who is still undefeated in 6A in Oklahoma – showed us some areas that we had to get better in as a football team,” Young said.
“And that’s why we play those guys, so we can figure out what we need to work on before we play the PAs, the Little Rock Christians, the Bentons and Lake Hamiltons so we will be ready.”
Greenwood, whose team is averaging 46.3 points and 456 yards total offense per game this season, knocked off Russellville 42-21 last week after being tied 21-21 at halftime.
“We have not been perfect, but we have been on an upward trend the last seven weeks,” Young said. “ We have had a couple of guys that we have lost to injury and these guys have gotten some action early in the year and are better for it now. I have seen our defense get better week by week.”
Young has a smaller senior class than normal.
“We are a really young football team,” Young said. “We have only got 12 seniors so we have had to play a lot of young kids and that’s tough, especially at the level we play at. The sophomores and even the freshman they are playing now. But now they have almost a full season under them and they are not as young anymore.”