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Bush Expects Tight Battle with Morrilton 10/14/21
Bush expects tight battle with Morrilton
By Kevin Taylor
Alma football coach Rusty Bush knows there is plenty at stake for his football team heading into Friday’s 5A-West clash with Morrilton.
He also knows history says to expect a close game.
“We’ve played a bunch of close games with them recently,” Bush said. “The year before last (2019), we beat them on a late field goal, and the year before that we beat them by a point. The year before that (2017), they beat us by three (38-35).
“History tells us it’s about to be a good football game.”
Alma and Morrilton have met 43 times since 1966, with the Airedales holding a commanding 31-11-1 advantage.
Since 2013, however, the teams have played close games.
The teams didn’t play in 2020 because of COVID. In 2019, Olof Olsson, a Swedish foreign exchange student, kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to cap a late 29-28 Alma win.
In 2018, the Airedales rallied to beat Morrilton, 23-22.
The Devil Dogs won 38-35 in 2017 and 28-26 in 2016.
The Airedales (3-3, 2-1) evened their overall record last week with a 14-0 win over Clarksville. For the first time this season, Alma did not allow any big plays.
Now, a victory over the Devil Dogs could help the Airedales pull into a three-way tie for second place.
“It’s kind of a make or break for us,” Bush said. “We can go to 3-and-1 in the conference; we can be right there at the top with Vilonia and Harrison. Morrilton is a very good football team; I think they’re very comparable to us.
“They are very athletic.”
Junior quarterback Damarius Martin runs the show for Morrilton. He has a dynamic arm and has a good running vision. Senior Dawson Granberry (6-foot, 315 pounds) bolsters a young offensive line.
Noah Tindall (285) and Kajalan Black (255) are book-end tackles.
The Devil Dogs (2-4, 1-2) are coming off a 15-0 loss to Farmington, a game that was just 3-0 until the fourth quarter.
Like Alma, the Devil Dogs’ two victories have come at the expense of teams with sub-.500 records — a 31-26 win over 1-5 Beebe and a 40-12 triumph against 0-6 Pea Ridge.
But Bush contends the Devil Dogs have extra motivation heading into Friday’s game. A win over Alma keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive.
A loss drops the Devil Dogs to 1-3.
“They play extremely hard,” Bush said. “They play a bunch of kids, so they’ve got some depth. Anytime you go up against a good Morrilton team, it’s going to be a good game.”
Joe Trusty leads the Airedales’ attack with 1,162 yards passing and eight touchdown passes. He added a season-high 84 yards rushing in last week’s win.
Conner Stacy continues to move up the ladder in single-season receptions with 47. Stacy has 835 yards receiving and, in addition to catching four TD passes, is a dual-threat in the “Wildcat” formation, where he’s scored five times.
Just for good measure, Stacy also led the team with nine tackles last week.
Bush said he hopes to have a full complement of offensive linemen Friday. Senior Nathan Smith, who also plays a lot of defense, injured his ankle last week but should be good to go by Friday.
Zane Hurlburt, the lone underclassmen on the offensive line, missed a portion of last week’s game due to an injury as well.
“We ended up putting (Dakota) Stallings in there at center Friday night,” Bush said. “If we went into it, where we had to play four quarters, we might move others around some. I’m hoping we’re all good by Friday.