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Airedales look ahead, back

Airedales look ahead, back

 
By Kevin Taylor
Alma Schools
 
Hunter McAlister looked up at the scoreboard. Trying not to smile, and trying to figure how to take a snap without fumbling, the junior quarterback could hardly control his emotions. 
 
Finally, after taking a knee and flipping the ball to the referee, McAlister reached for Jacob Coursey as if he was about to hug a long lost relative. 
 
Coursey had already beaten him to the punch. 
 
"Right after we took that last kneel of the game, I went up to Jacob Coursey and he was already in tears," McAlister said. "That was big; they (seniors) really needed that win. It feels good to have it."
 
With a 2-7 record, and with just one conference victory under their belt, the Airedales will make the 200-mile drive to Texarkana Friday to play Arkansas High School. They'll be underdogs. 
 
But, on Nov. 13, they'll be playing football amid the craziness that is 2020. 
 
Alma's season-ending 8-3 win over Farmington matched the worst conference output since the Airedales finished 1-3 (4-6 overall) in 1989. 
 
After scoring five touchdowns during a 49-35 loss to Greenbrier on Oct. 30, it's highest-scoring output since a heart-breaking 35-28 loss to Pea Ridge on the last Friday of September, the Airedales made Logan Chronister's lone first-quarter touchdown standup. 
 
To hold Farmington, which had hung 38 on Pea Ridge the following week, and was trying to finish the season with three wins in its final four games, says a lot for an Alma team, until Friday, couldn't seem to create many breaks. 
 
Paced by ball-hawking tacklers Coursey, Landon Burkhart, and Trey Fusilier, Alma did something they hadn't done all season  force three turnovers in one game. 
 
Fusilier had three interceptions, including a clinching pick that sealed Farmington's fate with under a minute to play.
 
"I wasn't sure if I wanted to try and take it all the way back or get out of bounds," he said. 
 
Fusilier, 5-foot-5, and 122 pounds finished with 16 tackles and one pass break-up to go along with his three interceptions. 
 
"He works really hard," beamed junior Conner Stacy. "You'd be surprised at his toughness. You look at him and you're like, 'OK, I'm about to truck this kid.'
 
"But no, he will tackle you and there's no way you're getting past him. That dude is an absolute beast."
 
Stacy leads the Airedales with 22 receptions for 294 yards (13.3 per reception) and two touchdowns. 
 
"Last week we kind of struggled and had a shootout with Greenbrier, and it didn't go well for us," Stacy said. "For our defense to hold them to three points, and being in the first half, that is just amazing. They played their butts off."
 
Alma, which won its only other previous game with Texarkana in 2015, had numerous chances to put Farmington away last week. They missed an opportunity to extend the lead late in the half after reaching the Cardinals' 3. 
 
Alma missed another opportunity in the fourth quarter when Stacy's five-yard run to the 3 was nullified because of an illegal chop-block. 
 
"Honestly, with eight minutes left, that would have made it a lot easier," Stacy said of Alma's potential clinching score. "(But) we got the win."