The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats have a date with destiny this week.
After buzz sawing their way through the 7A/6A East, they are now pushing toward the only successful finish to such an unpredictable year.
It’s state title or bust.
Rice has said all season that what his main goal has been since he took the job on an interim basis is be relevant.
He’s done much more than that.
After a trip to Missouri where they suffered their only loss of the year, the team bonded, and they haven’t lost since.
Big wins in big tournaments got attention, even raised eyebrows.
Now the Charging Wildcats are about to qualify their relevance with a state title. Rice knows, and said that without a state title, his team may be forgotten as quickly as they burst upon the scene.
"Teams that went undefeated in conference, and lost in the state tournament aren’t remembered," Rice said. "By the same token teams that barely get in and win are remembered."
The Charging Wildcats have handled pressure all year. The rigors of a conference schedule that saw a pair of wins over Jonesboro, the team that was considered their equal, could have worn on them, but they didn’t flinch.
Each Jonesboro game was huge, and North Little Rock answered.
They won, and they won convincingly.
This week they will face a team in the second round they have seen already and beaten. Either conference foe Cabot, or Bryant who fell hard to the Charging Wildcats on their way to a Coke Classic title in Fort Smith awaits the Cats.
Where or how far they go isn’t quite as certain. The hope is a Fayetteville rematch at Barton Coliseum.
No matter how far they get, the journey is about to start.