By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Calvary head coach Rodney Guin is preparing his team following a week in which the Cavaliers won big.
Benton head coach Reynolds Moore is preparing his team following a week in which the Tigers lost big.
Same highway, different on-ramps.
Both will be facing familiar opponents from a year ago and both will be hoping for a different result.
Calvary, coming off a 61-27 win over Captain Shreve, hops back into the Class 5A pool when it takes on Byrd tonight at 7 p.m. at Independence Stadium. The Cavs lost a close one last year to the Yellow Jackets, 14-7.
Benton had a rough night in Texarkana last week, losing 62-14 to Texas High, and will meet cross-state opponent Isadore Newman (New Orleans) Thursday in Benton. The Tigers made that trip in the opposite direction last year, only to have the Greenies take a 54-52 decision.
Guin is not worried at all about his team still being in celebration mode. “We have a lot of seniors on this team and they know what we are up against with Byrd,” Guin said. “We enjoyed (the Shreve win) until Monday and then we got back to work. They know every week is going to be hard for us and they know the Byrd game is big.”
“We went up against a really good team last week and kind of got it handed to us,” Moore said. “I think our guys have got to find our identity. We’ve made some changes and try some other guys in different spots to get the best 11 on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to figure out who we are and who we are going to be for the rest of the season.”
The Cavaliers look like they have figured out who are with two impressive wins to open the season. But even though they are still in the midst of their non-district schedule, games such as this are no less important.
“We do remind them how important these 5A games are in the power ratings for us if we win,” Guin said. “Games like this can be the difference for us being a 1 seed or a 5 seed (in the playoffs).”
Though the Cavaliers have had no trouble scoring points, Guin in mindful of last year’s low-scoring game and how the Yellow Jackets like to control the flow of the game with their ball-control offense.
“We are doing a lot of things right, especially on offense, but this is a different kind of a game against Byrd than it was against Shreve,” he said. “It’s a whole different dynamic to prepare for.”
Moore won’t have to prepare for defending the nation’s No. 1 recruit like he did last year in Newman’s Arch Manning (now at the University of Texas), but he knows the Greenies are still potent on offense with junior quarterback Eli Friend, who is known for running as well as passing.
“They call more runs for him than they did last year, but he is really accurate with his passing,” Moore said. “He’s a really good football player who can hurt you with his legs and his arm. Plus, they have been the most opportunistic team I have seen this year. Their secondary is incredible in making a play on the ball.”
Moore said the scoreboard won’t necessarily tell the story of what this game means to the Tigers.
“I don’t think this game is going to make or break our season,” Moore said. “But I do think that how we play will make or break our season.”
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CALVARY BAPTIST (2-0) vs. BYRD (0-2), Independence Stadium
Series: Byrd leads 8-2
Last year: Byrd 14-7
Last week: Byrd lost to Huntington 44-43; Calvary beat Captain Shreve 61-27
Rankings: Calvary is No. 1 in LSWA 2A poll, No. 2 in SBJ; Byrd is No. 9 in SBJ poll
Power rankings: Byrd No. 11 (Select, Div. I); Calvary No. 1 (Select, Div. III)
Radio: Byrd (The Tiger, 1130 AM, 103.3 FM); CBA (Promise, 90.7 FM)
Notable: Last year when they met Byrd was 2-0 and Calvary 1-1 … Calvary QB Abram Wardell is second among state leaders in passing yards with 680 … Cavalier receiver Aubrey Hermes is fourth in the state for receiving yards with 295 … Byrd’s run game generates 98 percent of its offense … Malachi Johnson led the Jackets with 211 yards and averages 9.6 yards per carry. He tied a school record in the loss to Huntington with five touchdowns.
ISADORE NEWMAN (2-0) at BENTON (1-1), Newman Mason Field at Tiger Stadium
Series: Newman 1-0
Last year: Newman 54-52
Last week: Benton lost to Texarkana-Texas High 62-14; Newman beat Riverside 33-7
Rankings: Newman is No. 3 in LSWA 2A poll; Benton No. 7 in SBJ poll
Power rankings: Benton No. 20 (Non-Select, Div. I); Newman No. 5 (Select Div. III)
Radio: Benton (The Benton Tiger Sports Network, https://network1sports.com/station/benton)
Notable: Benton’s two scores last week were the first touchdown passes for Jeff King on the season going to Cody Wilhite and Wade Chandler … Running back Greg Manning has 205 yards rushing on the season and 2,694 for his career … The Tiges defensive backfield has the top two tacklers on the team in Austin Cole with 25 and Miller Malley with 21. Linebacker Brayden Jackson has 19 tackles, two for a loss.