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Airedales Seek More Balance Against Goblins 9/30/21

Airedales seek more balance against Goblins

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Alma coach Rusty Bush told his team prior to the Pea Ridge game that the road to the Conference Championship goes directly through Harrison. 


Despite the fact the Goblins were upset last week, Bush is sticking to his guns.


“No doubt,” he said. “The conference race the last four years has gone through Harrison. We knew if we could get two (wins) under our belt and then come home and play in front of a big crowd, that gives us a lot of confidence.”


Bush and the Airedales passed Part I of the equation with back-to-back wins over Heritage and Pea Ridge. Now comes the bigger test - the Harrison Goblins. 


Alma (2-2, 1-0) will host the Goblins (3-1, 0-1) Friday at Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium. 


The Airedales lead the all-time series 28-17-2. Both schools have met every year since 1983.


“Our kids feel good about what we’re doing,” Bush said. “We’ve got a few nagging injuries, but we’ve just got to go back and get ready to play a good football team.”


Harrison blew a 35-10 halftime lead at home last week against upstart Farmington. The Cardinals’ 36-35 win only means the Goblins may be in a bad mood come Friday. 


“That’s what I told our kids,” Bush said. “They’re (Harrison) well-coached and their kids feel like they should win, but right now we’re gaining some confidence. When you go out and play, and have success, confidence is tough to beat.”


Alma has won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of the 2019 season, courtesy of a 28-27 win over Heritage and last week’s 55-38 shootout with Pea Ridge. 


“Those are two games that we had to win,” Bush said. “But I told the kids last night, it was so important to then get the Heritage win and then start the conference race at 1-and-0.”


Offensive coordinator Chris Smith called on the usual suspects in last week’s win, with quarterback Joe Trusty throwing for a career-high 327 yards and Conner Stacy catching six passes for 154 yards. 


Stacy also ran for two scores. 


But it was the great unknown that caught the Blackhawks off guard. Senior BriLee White caught four passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and junior Brady Noyes had 127 yards rushing and a TD. He also turned a short screen pass into a 46-yard touchdown pass. 


“We’re kind of getting into who we want to be - multiple personalities with lots of different people touching the football,” Bush said. “I think we did a really good job of making it difficult on teams. We want to be explosive; if you want to score points, you’ve got to be that way. We’ve got to be able to spread the ball around.”


Bush said moving Nathan Smith back to center helped the offensive line master a school-record 575 total yards in last week’s win. 


“The offensive staff did a great job, but I think we had to scale it back after the first two weeks,” Bush said. “I think we had too much on their plate. When the kids play with confidence, they play really fast, and when they do that we can execute really well.”


The Goblins have plenty of weapons, with quarterback Logan Plumlee already throwing for 928 yards and 12 touchdowns. Big-play receiver Dylan Block has 20 receptions for 423 yards and five scores. Sloan Barrett has 18 receptions for 224 yards. 


Beck Jones and Brodey Gilliam lead the ground attack, which averages 126.3 yards per game.