Off a surprising 41-7 season-opening home loss to Riverview, Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs hope to get back in the win column Friday at Carlisle.
After their original season opener against Mayflower was postponed until next week because of Covid complications for the Eagles, the Mustangs faced a team that had already played one game.
Tommy Shoemaker is counting on his team making the same type of improvement Riverview did from Game 1 to Game 2 when they face an 0-2 Bison team, which has lost to Lonoke, 54-12; and Bigelow, 54-32.
“I’m hoping that will happen for us,” he said. “Carlisle is going to be a physical running team with a really good fullback. He’s a very talented player.”
Carlisle’s Jason Sullivan, a 5-10, 205-pound junior, rushed for nearly 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Caleb Shock’s Bison finished 4-7 last year but earned the third seed from the 6-2A for the playoffs. They’ll run the Wing T offense and a 4-3 defensive scheme.
“(Sullivan) is what makes them go on offense, but they have some other guys that complement him as well,” Shoemaker said. “Defensively, we’ve got to shore some things up and play better. Offensively, we’re just going to need to execute at a higher level.
“I think we’re pretty close on offense, but we’ve got some things to shore up. And I think our kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back, and we’ll get better.”
The Riverview loss was a perfect storm for the Mustangs.
“We scored first and got a penalty, then threw an interception in the end zone,” Shoemaker said. “The biggest problem was we didn’t do a very good job on defense. We moved the ball, but we had three turnovers, and they didn’t have any. That always plays into it.
“We didn’t get enough stops on defense, and we didn’t take care of the ball like we needed to.”
On the other hand, Riverview controlled the ball. Shoemaker said his team had only about four possessions per half. CAC was within 14-7 late in the second quarter but suffered a turnover, and the Raiders took advantage for a third score.
“That was a big point in the game because they got the ball first in the second half and scored again,” Shoemaker said. “We couldn’t get them off the field on third down. I tip my hat to them for that.”
Still, it was a frustrating start to the season.
“I know we’re a lot better team than that, but we didn’t show it,” Shoemaker said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who haven’t played before. It was their first varsity game, and they’re going to have to learn quick because we’ve got to turn around and get ready.”
The Mustangs got 148 yards and their TD from Tyler Williams, their senior running back-turned-quarterback.
“He played well,” Shoemaker said. “I don’t know if i could ask any more from him. We just need some more people around him to help him out. I thought Tyler played his heart out and did a lot of good things for us. We just have to put it together this week on both sides of the ball.”
Subscribe if you like, pay if you can
Sept. 3: Riverview 41, Central Arkansas Christian 7
Friday, Sept. 10: Central Arkansas Christian at Carlisle
Friday, Sept. 17: Mayflower at Central Arkansas Christian
Friday, Sept. 24: Clinton at Central Arkansas Christian
Friday, Oct. 1: Central Arkansas Christian at Little Rock Mills
Friday, Oct. 8: Central Arkansas Christian at Heber Springs
Friday, Oct. 15: Southside Batesville at Central Arkansas Christian
Friday, Oct. 22: Central Arkansas Christian at Lonoke
Friday, Oct. 29: Bald Knob at Central Arkansas Christian
Friday, Nov. 5: Central Arkansas Christian at Stuttgart
All games kickoff at 7 p.m. unless noted, Conference games in BOLD
Gentry Miller, Arkansas State
Cole Shoemaker, Harding
Brandon Bishop, Henderson State
Jeremiah Wingfield, Ouachita Baptist
Have any additions to this list? Email us at Arkansas@substack.com
4A-2 standingsLittle Rock Mills ... 2-0Stuttgart ... 2-0Lonoke ... 1-0Clinton ... 1-1Southside Batesville ... 1-1Central Arkansas Christian ... 0-1Bald Knob ... 0-2Heber Springs ... 0-0