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Airedales Prep for Homecoming 10/6/21

Airedales face run-orientated Panthers

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

Assignment football. 

 

The Alma Airedales have preached this week the same thing they do every week: stay in your gaps, cover your man, don’t give up the big play. 

 

But it’s always a little more difficult when Clarksville shows up at the door. The Panthers (1-4, 0-2) face the 2-3 (1-1) Airedales Friday at Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium. 

 

“Obviously, it’s a tough prep week, defensive especially because of what they do offensively,” Bush said. “The single wing is something nobody really does anymore, especially in the state of Arkansas football. 

 

“(But) it’s something that coach (Khris) Buckner does a really good job with.

Arthur Alvarez leads the Panthers’ running attack with 431 yards rushing. He went for 145 in the team’s 5A-West opener with Vilonia but managed just 64 yards rushing on 14 attempts in last week’s 34-13 loss to Greenbrier. 

 

The Panthers and Airedales have met 24 previous times, with Alma winning 12 of the previous 14 matchups going back to the mid-60s. 

 

Clarksville dominated the series in the 1950s, boasting an 8-2-1 record between 1956-66.

 

The aforementioned Alvarez ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s 34-14 win over the Airedales, the team’s first win over the Airedales since 1978. Clarksville had 341 rushing yards in last season’s win over the Airedales. 

 

“He’s (Alvarez) an extremely physical running back,” Bush said. “(Jacob) Buckner, the coach’s kid, is the other really strong back they have. We’ve got our hands full, because it’s extremely hard to find the football, and it’s extremely hard to prep for.”

 

The Airedales dropped a 42-21 decision to Harrison last week, with Conner Stacy scoring twice via a 63-yard touchdown reception and scoring from a yard out on the direct-snap Wildcat formation. 

 

Stacy has 40 receptions for 790 yards this season. Quarterback Joe Trusty has thrown for eight touchdowns but has been intercepted three times in the last two games. 

 

Bush said he hopes senior R.J. Billingsly could be back a little healthier than he’s been. The offensive lineman played through injuries last week. 

 

“He wasn’t a hundred percent, but he played just about every snap,” Bush said. “He’s had another week of physical therapy … he’ll probably be closer to a hundred percent than he was last week.”

 

Bush said Billingsly has practiced some on defense this week.

 

“We should be a little healthier this week than we were last week,” Bush said. 

 

A win over Clarksville Friday would put Alma in a position to control its own destiny over the final four weeks, with three of those games being on the road. 

 

“We knew we had to play well at Pea Ridge, which we did, and we knew we would have a tough game against a very physical Harrison team,” Bush said. “Physically, we were just not ready for that game - that’s not where we are as a program right now. We’re working on tails off to get there; that’s the caliber we want to be. That’s the program we want to have … to be able to win 22 conference games in a row, just like they did.”

 

Senior Landon Burkhart leads the Airedales with 49 tackles. He, too, has been banged up over the last three weeks.