Central Arkansas Christian enters 2-4A conference play against Clinton on Friday 2-1 after a wild 35-34 win over Mayflower.
Kickoff at Mustang Mountain is set for 7 p.m.
Clinton is 1-2 following a season-opening loss to Melbourne, 33-6; a win over Huntsville, 28-21; and a loss to Dardanelle, 42-26.
It’s an early test in the 2-4A. According to Hooten’s Arkansas Football’s preseason poll of league coaches, Clinton was picked to finish third and CAC fourth. The Mustangs won this matchup last year, 47-35, en route to an 8-3 finish. The Yellow Jackets went 2-9 but returned seven starters on each side of the football for 2021.
“Coach (Chris) Dufrene does a great job with them; they’re always fundamentally sound and well coached,” CAC coach Tommy Shoemaker said. “They do a great job with the Wing T, and they’re always difficult to slow down or stop.
“We’re going to have to get some stops on defense, somehow, to give ourselves a chance. They’re big up front and very physical on both sides of the ball. They have very active linebackers.”
He said the Yellow Jackets would present his team’s biggest defensive test of the young season.
“It will be our biggest challenge to slow down their offense,” Shoemaker said. “Their quarterback (junior Harley Tobin) is really their playmaker. They put the ball in his hands and see what he can do. In that way, they are very similar to us. He doesn’t run it as much as Tyler (Williams, the CAC QB), but he makes a lot of plays for them.”
The Mustangs have prepared for the Wing T already. They beat Carlisle, 55-46; and they prepared to face the scheme against Mayflower last week, but the Eagles presented a different look.
“We made the plays we had to make to win the game,” Shoemaker said. “Offensively, we played really well. We had a couple of bad play calls — they just weren’t very good calls — but it was one of those things that for the most part, we played really well on offense. We didn’t turn the ball over. Two times we got in the red zone and didn’t stick it in, and that was my fault.”
He said Williams, who earned 165 yards and four touchdowns (5, 1, 1 and 5 yards) on 30 carries, ran the ball well.
“We blocked well up front, and the receivers blocked much better,” Shoemaker said.
Isaac Rine also scored on a 12-yard run.
Vance Strange, a sophomore wide receiver/safety, contributed a 47-yard kickoff return and a 30-yard punt return to set up scores. He also blocked the Eagles’ final PAT that would have tied the game at 35.
“He’s probably our leading tackler on defense,” Shoemaker said of Strange. “He made several tackles the other night at the line of scrimmage. He’s pretty active, a pretty fearless guy for someone who’s not too big. He’ll go in there and throw his body around. He is certainly helping us out on both sides of the ball. I should’ve gotten him the ball more Friday.”
Defensively, Shoemaker said the Mustangs still weren’t as consistent as they need to be.
“We need to tackle better,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who hadn’t got experience, but they’re getting it now. I think they’ll continue getting better.”.
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Sept. 3: Riverview 41, Central Arkansas Christian 7
Sept. 10: Central Arkansas Christian 55, Carlisle 46
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
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