Bulldogs and Bears clash in Earle
Keeping big bodies fresh tonight will be key for the Bulldogs
After a disappointing loss last week to the Central Cougars of West Helena, the Earle Bulldogs (0-1 overall) look to earn their first victory of the season tonight in front of their fans at home against the Barton Bears (1-0).
Facing the Bears triple option threat, the main concern for Earle head coach Albert Coleman and the Bulldogs is limiting the effectiveness of Bears junior fullback Kavein Davis who stands at sixfoot, 225-pounds.
“We just have to stop that fullback,” Coleman said.
“If you can stop that fullback and put them in a position where they have to pitch the ball, you can have better success against them.”
That means that the Earle defensive line will need to be in top shape, which is a concern with Earle’s sixfoot 265-pound running back and nose guard Jaylon Coopwood.
Coopwood picked up 51 yards to lead Earle on the ground last week, but he’s equally as important to the Bulldogs defense. Finding a balance without tiring the Earle big man out is an area that Coleman addressed all week.
“The main problem this week will be figuring out how to rotate Jaylon Coopwood where he is rested enough and can pull double duty for us on offense and defense.
Without a doubt, he’s needed as a running back.
But, him being at nose guard and being aggressive is needed just as much. We spent this whole trying to figure out how to balance the two.”
On offense, that might look like giving more carries to senior back Quinlan Allen. Defensively, Coleman says Coopwood’s effectiveness on early downs could allow him to take a rest on later downs.
“On third-and-long situations, we’re going to get him out of the game and get a quicker nose guard in and get him a play off because he’s a major part of our game plan this week,” Coleman said.
Along with improving conditioning this week across the board, allowing players to go longer on both sides of the ball, Coleman said the offense particularly focused on improving the execution on their offensive line, an area that will be important tonight especially with rain in the forecast which typically leads to more runs.
“There was no blocking (last week) from the backfield to the front line,” Coleman said. “We have a veteran line with four seniors and one junior and we never had one play where everybody did their job at the same time…So, we went back to the drawing board. Monday, we were on the sled. We spent a whole lot of time working on stepping, depending on play calls. I think we should be able to drive the ball on them as much as we want. If we block, we win.”
Key on that line will be the play of senior All-State tackle Montrell Blockman. “Last year, he had a great year blocking for us,” Coleman said. “He had an injury and I think he’s still kind of favoring that leg instead of just being himself.”
Barton rolls into Earle tonight literally untested, with their Week 1 victory coming in the form of a forfeit by Marvall High School last week.
Tonight’s kickoff in Earle between the Bulldogs and the Bears is slated for 7 p.m.
By Collins Peeples