“This why you spend all that time running, all that time lifting weights, and all that time in here practicing. It’s for games like this.”
That is what Pioneers head coach Dave King told his athletes about their conference game tonight. The long-time rivalry between the Batesville Pioneers and Wynne Yellowjackets will be renewed once again. The Pioneers come in undefeated in conference, while the Yellowjackets are undefeated on the season.
As has been the case with this matchup in the past, this will likely be the game for the conference championship. Of the last 17 contests, 15 of them have determined the winner of the conference.
“This is one of the biggest and best rivalries in the state,” King said.
Of the last 17 games between these two teams, the Pioneers lead the series 11-6. However the Yellowjackets got the best of the Pioneers last year 21-7.
The Pioneers beat the Forrest City Mustangs last Friday 42-12 for King’s 200th win as Batesville’s head coach improving the Pioneers to 4-2 overall and 3-0 in conference play.
Ethan Ridgel led the way for the Pioneers with 185 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Eli Livingston led in passing with 103 yards for two scores. Alejandro Medina went a perfect 6 for 6 on extra point attempts.
On Ridgel, King said “he had a really good game and ran well.”
The Yellowjackets are coming off of 28-14 conference road win over the Valley View Blazers.
When asked about preparations being made for the Yellowjackets, King said “practice has been good this week. The kids are a little bit more locked in mentally. You only have to say something once, you don’t have go over things several times, they are pretty much ready.”
King said this mentality is typical when there is a big game coming up.
This will just be the second time since week one that the Pioneers will have all their normal starters back and injury free.
Everyone will need to be healthy to help slow down the triple-option scheme the Yellowjackets play.
King said the key to stopping the option is “playing assignment football.”
“If you try to watch the ball or run to the ball, they’re going to kill you,” King said. “What makes the triple-option tough is you don’t see it anymore.”
This will be the one time this year the Pioneers will see an offense use the triple-option.
When asked about the Yellowjackets defense, King said, “they are as fast as anyone in the state. They are not as big as they have been some years, but they are just as quick.”
“We’re going to take what they give us,” King said about the Pioneers’ game plan this week. The Pioneers are a run heavy team, but if the pass is open, King said they will take it.
King said senior quarterback Eli Livingston has looked “sharp” this week in practice.
“Any successful coach is going to have a plan A,B, and C.” The Pioneers will “monitor and adjust” as the game goes on, King said.
“It’s not pressure, it’s exciting, it’s fun and that’s what life’s about,” King said about this big-time matchup.
The Pioneers and Yellowjackets will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday night at Wynne.