Booneville Head Coach Scott Hyatt was not in much of a mood after his team scrimmaged last week. It didn’t get a whole lot better after he saw his week one opponent Morrilton the next night.
Yes, Ozark is replacing 18 starters, but Hyatt doesn’t expect the Hillbillies to concede anything after reaching the Class 4A title game last year.
"Ozark has some good skill people coming back. They’ve got that (Jacob) Simpson kid at quarterback that was the backup last year and came in in the state championship game. He’s got good speed" said Hyatt. "They’ve got the (Ryan) Jenkins kid who I thought ran their spread offense real well — he’s not a big, not as fast, but he threw the ball decent.
"They got a move-in from Alma, Gage Battles, who was a good part of Alma’s offense. He’s a good running back, physical kid."
Hyatt adds the Hillbillies average about 230 pounds across the offensive line and that the Ozark defense showed good pursuit to the football with a hard-hitting secondary.
Although Morrilton had their way with Ozark in the scrimmage, Hyatt also cautions, "we’ve got a little speed, but Morrilton’s got a lot of speed."
Not to mention that Booneville and Ozark are such bitter rivals. Friday’s meeting will be the 76th between the schools, which trails only Waldron (78) and Paris (85) in terms of teams most faced by Booneville.
He wasn’t able to play in the scrimmage but Wade Weaver finally returned to duty on a limited scale later last week and James Ray’s scrimmage injury wasn’t as bad as the worst case scenario.
Weaver, a senior was on the field for two losses to Ozark last year as the Hillbillies stretched to three a current winning streak against the Bearcats.
Bearcat seniors have noted the streak, which matches the longest by Ozark in the series that dates back to 1924 and covers 75 games, but not for that reason.
Instead it is because the seniors last enjoyed a win over Ozark in the seventh grade. After an eighth grade loss there was a tie their freshman year and then the three meetings during the senior high years.
Booneville leads the series 46-25-4. Of late it has been difficult for one team to win four straight times.
Ozark last won three in a row in the series in 1986 and twice in 1987, with the later, like last year, including a playoff game.
After that three game dry spell the Bearcats won the next two straight and have three times strung together three game winning streaks.
The longest streak in the series is one of seven by Booneville between 1937 and 1953. The schools did not meet at all during the 1940s but have appeared on one another’s schedule every year since 1950.
It has also been difficult for either team to dominate at home. Since 2000 the Bearcats are 3-3 in games played in Ozark and is 4-4 in games played in Booneville.