In only its first season as a member of the 4A-4 conference, the Maumelle Hornets find themselves in a battle for the conference title. The Hornets are one of two undefeated league teams and face the other one Friday as they travel to Pottsville. The winner has a great shot at the taking the league championship.
"We are probably in the playoffs and are now just playing for seeds," Maumelle Coach Mike Buchan said. "We want to win the conference, and we’ve known this would be a big game. This is the first meeting between the schools. The guys are pretty excited and fired up."
The Apaches (7-0, 4-0 4A-4) won the conference last year. Behind Maumelle (5-2, 4-0) is Booneville with a 3-1 league mark. However the Bearcats finish out the season with Pottsville and Maumelle. Pottsville and Maumelle have sailed through their first four games of league play with the Apaches outscoring their opponents, 167-59, and the Hornets outdistancing its foes, 166-43.
Last Friday, Maumelle defeated Subiaco, 41-7. Forty-one or 42 points is the magic number for the Hornets, but there is a reason for that.
"Once we get around the 35-point mark and the running clock, we turn it off," Buchan said. "I’ve been on the other side and thought it was classless. We are not going to beat someone to death."
In the Subiaco contest, Buchan was pleased with Maumelle’s performance. The Hornets didn’t punt until the fourth period and moved the ball at will with quarterback Terry Rhodes tallying three touchdowns. He also said the defense played really well and singled out Kendall Donnerson and J.D. Russell with 11 tackles. The only setback was in the first half the Hornets miffed a few punts and gave the ball to Subiaco.
Buchan says Pottsville plays old-time smash-mouth football. Defensively, the Hornets need to control the line of scrimmage and not miss assignments.
"We’ve got some awfully good athletes on defense," he said. "They (Pottsville) are good, but they are not like a PA (Pulaski Academy) good."
Sailing through the league so far, the Hornets have prepared for this game. Looking at the schedule, Buchan knew this would be THE game. His plan is for the Hornets to just keep the same routine.
"We can’t get overly excited and go nuts," Buchan said. "If we eliminate the mistakes on offense and don’t get in a rut, we have a chance."