- Alma School District
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By Kevin Taylor, Alma Schools
The Alma Airedales are looking forward to playing a football game Friday. It's even more special considering they're finally back home.
The Airedales (1-5, 0-3) host Vilonia (3-2, 1-1) at Citizen's Bank Field at Airedale Stadium.
Alma hasn't been on the field since losing to Clarksville on Oct. 9, and the team last played a home game on Sept. 25.
Moving forward, first-year coach Rusty Bush expects sophomore quarterback Derek Hatcher to play well this week. Hatcher became the third different starting quarterback this season.
He's the first sophomore to start under center since Joseph Medeiros replaced an ailing Byron Bradley in 2003. Before that, the last sophomore to start a game at quarterback as Robin Hankins.
He took over for an injured Randy Arnold in the season finale in 1978.
Hatcher's numbers weren't flattering in the team's loss to Clarkville. But Bush likes the fact he faced up to his missteps.
"I think he's looking forward to playing again," Bush said. "He played well against Clarksville, but he had a couple of mistakes he's learning from. That's what is so unique about him. Coming off the field, before you even say anything, he knew exactly what he needed to do. He's a young kid; he's going to make some 10th-grade mistakes.
"But I think he's going to be pretty good."
Bush is hoping for an upbeat, faster style of play against the Eagles.
"I told them (players) our main goal this week is to play fast," he said. "I told them, we're going to play fast offensively, we're going to play fast defensively. I don't necessarily mean tempo-wise ... I mean whistle to whistle.
"Offensively, we're going to try to be explosive."
Bush said the Airedales want to "create" some plays that are 15 yards or better.
"The four and five yards is a great thing; we need that some," he said. "But we've got to figure out a way to get some big chunk yards offensively. Defensively, we're going to try to be disruptive; we're going to try to get after the quarterback a little bit."
Bush said the Airedales want to be sold out to the off-front - something they haven't been able to do with the single wing and wing-t.
"We feel real comfortable where we are with the defensive line and with the front," he said. "We have all of our linebackers and secondary guys back."
Among those players who've been out, either with an injury or quarantine, is Joseph York.
"We definitely missed York," Bush said. "He's a great senior leader on both sides of the ball. He gives us physicality on both sides of the football. Not only that, he gives us depth."
Two weeks ago, Conner Stacy and Jacob Coursey were forced to play most of the game.
"That created some problems because of depth," Bush said. "Now that York is back, it creates some needed depth."