The nonconference schedule continues not to disappoint with Russellville making the trip to Springdale to take on the Har-Ber Wildcats. Both the Cyclones and the Wildcats are looking to bounce back after some early season defeats. Har-Ber and Russellville each played well enough to win the first game of the season but just could not get enough the opposing offenses off the field.
Coach Jeff Weaver's Cyclones will be looking to get off to a quick start tonight. Russellville put up two quick touchdowns before Morrilton would answer and go on to win 33-17. The Cyclones will need quarterback Brayden Whitford to be more efficient with the football. Whitford passed for 78 yards and one touchdown. Sustaining drives will be for the Cyclones to have a chance to win this game against the Wildcats.
In most weeks scoring 68 points would be enough points to pick up a victory. However, the Wildcats opened against state powerhouse Pulaski Academy. Har-Ber fans should look for quarterback Blaise Wittschen to spread the ball around to his playmakers like tight end Errington McRae and wide receiver Hunter Wood. McRae caught seven passes for 82 yards and Wood racked up 92 yards receiving on 11 receptions.
Playing at Har-Ber High School is never an easy experience, and this could be a difficult match up for the Cyclones. I look for Russellville to attempt to sustain long drives to shorten the game. At the end of the day, the Wildcats have too many weapons and win this one 48-27.
The Har-Ber Wildcats are determined to put the 2018 season behind them by focusing on the upcoming 2019 season. Har-Ber finished the 2018 season with a 2-8 record. The Wildcats have a goal of making this upcoming season one where they return to the playoffs and earn a trip to Little Rock.
Coach Chris Wood will have experience returning at the quarterback position this season. Blaise Wittschen started eight games for the Wildcats last season. Wittschen was an accurate passer, throwing for just under 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns. Wittschen will likely be the starter going into the season. However, Har-Ber has 2 additional solid options with Noah Livingston seeing snaps last season and Drew McClendon leading Central Junior High School to an undefeated season in 2018.
For fans of opposing 7-A West teams, it may feel as though the Wildcats have an unfair share, of riches all over the field. That will be especially true at the running back spot. Jay Burns returns for his senior season at the tailback position. Burns rushed for over 850 yards and eight touchdowns in 2018, and he is looking to build upon those numbers this season. Burns breakout performance came against the Rogers Mounties, where Burns rushed for 350 yards and two touchdowns. Max Pena is the battering ram at running back and gets the hard-fought yards. The running back position is in good hands with Burns and Pena getting the bulk of the carries this season.
Talent is not just in the backfield for the Har-Ber Wildcats. Har-Ber also has some talented wide receivers going into the 2019 season. Har-Ber has two excellent targets in the form of Hunter Wood and Micah Seawood. Both Wood and Seawood caught 29 passes last season. Wood racked up 550 yards receiving and scored seven touchdowns through the air last season. Errington McRae, at the tight end spot, will be a nightmare for the 7-A West to defend this season, after he catching 12 passes for almost 190 yards last season. McRae is an excellent blocker and has terrific hands for catching passes.
The defensive side of the ball will be a much-improved unit this season. The defensive line has some impressive players. Evan Martinez is a defensive end that should improve on the 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks he had in 2018. Keaton Eagle will be another player to watch at the defensive end position. Eagle uses his quickness to put pressure on the quarterback. He racked up 23 tackles last season and has the potential to have an even better 2019 season.
Har-Ber has experience all over the field, particularly in the linebacking corps. Billy Tillery is a very quick linebacker that had an excellent spring. Another player to keep an eye on is middle linebacker Gabe Baker. Baker had 62 tackles and 7 sacks last season. The linebacking corps is an aggressive facet of this team and should make big plays throughout this season.
The secondary for the Wildcats will cause problems for opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. Har-Ber has a shutdown cornerback in Cole Bowen. Bowen has excellent speed and he picked off two passes in 2018 to go along with 31 tackles. The Wildcats also have some hitters in the secondary as well, with Ty Copher at the safety spot. Copher racked up over 70 tackles last season and could easily improve upon those numbers this season.
The Har-Ber Wildcats are perhaps the most talented team in the 7-A West in 2019 and will likely make the playoffs. Har-Ber has the potential to win the 7-A West and should go deep into the playoffs and perhaps contend for a spot in the state championship.