Quarterfinal games in the Class 5A State Football Playoffs are an “all hands on deck” situation for nearly every team.
The Harrison Goblins aren’t afforded that luxury on Friday night when they host White Hall for a spot in the semifinals.
“Playing short-handed is never fun,” Harrison head coach Joel Wells commented about his roster leading up to the game. “But some kids have stepped up and will have to continue to step up for us to advance to the semifinal.”
One of the questions leading up to the game was whether the Goblins will have their star quarterback under center. Cole Keylon was injured before halftime of last week’s game and missed the second half. Sophomore Beck Jones took the snaps the rest of the way and scored all three touchdowns to lead the Goblins to a 21-14 win victory over Camden Fairview.
“Cole will play,” said Wells. “Not sure if he will be at 100 percent but count on him playing.”
The Goblin coach feels that the offense is prepared if that proves to not be the case.
“We have some Wildcat stuff ready,” he noted. “I think Cole will be fine but Beck Jones will be ready to go if not.”
The opposition on Friday night will be a Bulldog team that is coming off a pair of postseason wins to earn the right to play the Goblins. White Hall beat Hot Springs by a 42-14 score in the play-in round and won over Batesville last week, 14-10.
The last time these two teams met was also in the playoffs. Harrison came away with a 49-7 victory in front of their home crowd.
The Goblins will look to produce a similar outcome this week but Wells knows that it won’t be a simple task.
“White Hall is very good on the backend of their defense,” Wells said of the upcoming opponent. “Their offense relies on a strong running attack with some big play capabilities at wide receiver.”
The defensive plan for Harrison is simple.
“We must contain the running game and keep the receivers in front of us,” he said. “We must tackle well.”
When asked how special teams will play into the ballgame, the coach noted how big a role that aspect plays.
“When you get to the playoffs, special teams and turnovers are the big difference,” Wells exclaimed. “All teams are good on offense and defense.”
As for the rest of the game, Wells has his team ready to go and knows what needs to be done to get a win on Friday and keep the season alive.
“We have made a few adjustments, but this time of year we have a lot of offense in, so not a whole lot new for our players to learn,” said the coach. “We just have to tackle well and take care of the football. We must not turn the ball over. Everyone is good at this point and you can’t give them extra possessions.”
The message to the Goblins from their head coach before taking the field at F.S. Garrison Stadium on Friday night will be to “focus, play hard and have fun.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Team members of the Goblins include: Beck Jones; Sloan Barrett; Julius Scott; Cayden Luker; Brodey Gilliam; Phoenix Whitney; Breckin Duck; Brock Bardwell; Hayden Davis; Noah Moix; Kaden Quandt; Lane Johnson; Cylan Madden; Cole Keylon; Trey Richardson; Dylan Schnidt; Logan Plumlee; Abe Estes; Talon Stephens; Gabe Paul; Vann Richards; Will Bryant; Anthony Robinson; Dylan Block; Matt Jones; Bentley Lemon; Alex Mills; Tyler Hutcheson; Wallace Crowley; Hudson Lewis; Anthony Allen; Caden Robertson; Jordin Welsh; Tristan Thompson; Marcus Reynolds; Maddox Peck; Jordan Miller; Kamran Bell; Hayden Allen; Dylan Olson; Steven Chrisman; Maliki Hilton; Elijah Lambert; Tim Gass; Josh Farris; Kohen Phifer; Chris McInturf; Jonathan Schaffer; Drayden Taylor; Skyler Graves; Mickey Upton; Evan Dixon; Jace Bardin; Taylor Baker; Kendred Thompson; Brekken Boswell; Hunter Boernson; and Charles Broome. The team is coached by Joel Wells. Assistant coaches include: Chris Keylon; Jacob Lisko; Greg Cross; Doug Cross; Dan Henderson; and Evan Cowling.