To the naked eye, the North Little Rock Charging Wildcats look nearly perfect.
And even though Friday’s 52-3 road win over the Mountain Home Bombers doesn’t argue against that, North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding says there are a few things he sees that will have to get corrected this week.
"It took us a while to get going," Bolding said. "We talked about getting off the bus and getting off to a good start, and I didn’t feel like we did that."
Mental mistakes and shaking off the rust of a bus ride due to lack of energy level plagued North Little Rock in the first quarter.
"I told them last week that this trip wasn’t unlike trips we used to take to Van Buren in the last couple of years," Bolding said.
But midway through the first half the Charging Wildcats caught their stride.
On offense, Bolding’s club racked up 385 yards of offense led by Altee Tenpenny’s 138 yards rushing on just 13 totes and two touchdowns. Rodney Bryson carried a dozen times for 75 yards and two TDs as well.
Bryson, according to Bolding, has been one of his most solid players throughout his career. The senior back was counted on last season after Tenpenny and Juan Day were lost to ankle injuries.
"He is a leader, a captain," Bolding said, "and just a steady football player with a lot of football smarts."
Defensively, the Charging Wildcats held the Bombers to just 35 yards rushing. Their only score was after a miscue on North Little Rock’s punt return team.
Deonte Pearson had a pair of strips and even ran one back for a score, but the TD was called back for a holding penalty.
NOT A PUSHOVER
Week 10 brings an old foe to North Little Rock. Not that the Charging Wildcats and the Little Rock Central Tigers haven’t played in awhile, but it’s been quite some time since the rivalry stage has been set in the final week of the regular season.
On the line for Central is a playoff spot, or playoff positioning. North Little Rock has a chance to finish unbeaten in conference and have the best record since North Little Rock Ole Main and Northeast merged in 1990.
And the task won’t be easy.
"They have some weapons," said Bolding. "They’ve got good speed and it’s going to be a challenge to keep them off the edges."
Bolding said their most impressive win so far would be against Cabot.
"They’ve had some good wins," Bolding said, "but Cabot stands out to me."
Bolding emphasized that the Tigers are still considered to be a rival and that they are not going to be the easy out they have been in recent years when they were struggling just to win games.
"We are going to have to execute in all phases of the game," said Bolding. "Offense, defense, and special teams."
Special teams has given Bolding fits at times.
It was the main reason that the Charging Wildcats aren’t undefeated. The kicking game and kick coverage cost them a huge road win at Longview, Tex. in week two.
A breakdown in the punting game also led to Mountian Home’s only points last week.
"It’s a big game," Bolding said. "It’s senior night."