It’s a week late, but Central Arkansas Christian’s Mustangs are ready to open football season Friday at Mustang Mountain against Riverview.
Last week’s scheduled opener against Mayflower was postponed until Sept. 17 after the Eagles had 11 starters out following Covid exposure.
“They had one positive (test), and it knocked out a bunch of guys,” CAC coach Tommy Shoemaker said. “I don’t want a forfeit, and I don’t want them to have to forfeit, so we worked it out where we could play.”
Both teams had the Sept. 17 open date.
So the Mustangs will start against the Raiders, who lost to Bauxite last week, 35-7. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“They played them pretty close in the first half, but Bauxite wore them down,” Shoemaker said. “My biggest concern is they’ve already played a game and we haven’t, and you know everybody always believes you improve the most between your first and second games.
“I figure we’ll actually see a better version of them than what you’d see on film. That makes me a little uncomfortable.”
Riverview was winless last year, including a 33-12 loss to the Mustangs. The Raiders have a new coach in Chris Keylon.
“They run a lot of different versions of the Spread — two-back, one-back, empty backfield,” Shoemaker said. “Their quarterback (junior Coby Teeter) is a good athlete and a tough kid. He’s kind of what makes them go, and they try to center everything around him.
“They’ve got some skill kids and some size up front. They’re doing some good things, and they’ve moved the ball at times. They just haven’t put a lot of points on the scoreboard yet.”
The Mustangs have moved senior Tyler Williams (6-foot-0, 195 pounds), an all-state running back, to quarterback.
“He has a great arm and can do everything a quarterback needs to do,” Shoemaker said. “Last year we were a two-back running team, and now we’re doing empty formations and one-back stuff with him. We didn’t run him a lot in the scrimmage (against Perryville), but we know he’s the guy that’s got to make us go on offense.”
Williams rushed for 1,379 yards and 24 scores last year, caught 26 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns and completed three of six passes for 131 yards and one score.
“We’ve got some guys around him who are capable but just inexperienced,” Shoemaker said. “We lost all but one receiver last year, so those guys are having to learn a lot and pick up the pace. They’re doing really well.”
Three starters return on the offensive line.
“So we’re solid up front,” the coach said. “We’re not real deep anywhere, but I think it’s always easier to figure out a way to move the ball. I’m always more concerned about defense because it’s harder to hide things on that side of the ball.”
But he is pleased with his defense thus far.
“Some guys have gotten better and have probably played above where I thought they’d be at this point,” Shoemaker said. “It’s the same thing — we have some guys who aren’t experienced and haven’t been in it yet, but they’re coming along. I’m looking forward to watching them play Friday and see how they play when it’s real.”
He cited junior middle linebacker Ayden Fitts (6-2, 240); senior outside linebacker Jackson Morse (6-4, 195) and senior inside linebacker Steven Massey (6-2, 210) as ones to watch. Morse, with the most experience returning on defense, moves from defensive end. Massey is in his first year of football.
“Jace Love (6-2, 300, senior), I think, has the potential to be an all-state offensive lineman, and obviously he is going to help us on the defensive line,” Shoemaker said.
The big surprise has been senior defensive end Olisa Adigwe, who had never played football.
“He wanted to play, and he had to convince his mom,” Shoemaker said. “He’s done a super job at defensive end. He’s been a find for us. He’s real excited. We’re really looking forward to seeing how he plays. So we’ve had a couple of seniors who’ve stepped up that we hadn’t expected to have. That’s been good.
“I’m most pleased, though, with our defensive backs. They’ve covered really well. Those guys are inexperienced but really coachable. In the scrimmage, they played really well technically on that back end. A lack of experience can show up real quick there, but those guys have done well.”
So what did he do with his unexpected Friday night off last week?
“We had dinner and then we went and watched (Joe T.) Robinson play Pulaski Academy,” he said, chuckling. “My wife loves football, too. She’s just glad to have a chance to hang out with me.”
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Friday, Sept. 3: Riverview at Central Arkansas Christian
Friday, Sept. 10: Carlisle at Central Arkansas Christian
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 … 1-0Lonoke … 1-0Stuttgart … 1-0Bald Knob … 0-1Clinton … 0-1Southside Batesville … 0-1Central Arkansas Christian … 0-0Heber Springs … 0-0