By Stan Sadler
RISON – It will be a first-ever clash on the gridiron at George Walker Field of Champions Friday night, when the Rison Wildcats host the Magazine Rattlers in an opening round game of the Class 2A state football playoffs. Kickoff time is scheduled for 7 o’clock.
“We are glad to get a home playoff game,” Rison head coach Clay Totty said early this week, as he and his staff looked to the matchup with Magazine. The Rattlers, coached by Doug Powell, are making the trip to Rison by virtue of their 14-12 overtime victory against Western Yell County last Friday, as they secured the 5th seed from the 4-2A Conference and climaxed their regular season campaign with a record of 5-5. Rison is 9-1 on the season and the second seed from the 8-2A Conference as runnerup in the league race to Camden Harmony Grove.
While Magazine was in a down-to-the-wire fight with Western Yell County to claim a spot in the playoffs, Rison had an open date last Friday, the second of the 2017 season for the Wildcats. Last week’s open date was a result of Rison receiving a forfeit from Woodlawn after the Bears had discontinued their season in mid-October due to mounting injuries among their already thin roster. The ‘Cats also received a forfeit from Hermitage at mid-season due to the Hermits having similar circumstances as Woodlawn.
However, in this instance, Totty wasn’t totally displeased with the open date last Friday after the ‘Cats had just finished back-to-back games with a couple of tough conference opponents – Camden Harmony Grove and Hampton.
“It actually gave us a chance to heal some,” Totty remarked about last Friday’s open slot. “We had been having several kids on ice, and that number dropped to a few. So, in that respect, it did help. And it gave us the opportunity to get an early start on our preparations for the playoffs, and to work on some of the stuff that has been causing us problems. You hate to get to the start of the playoffs and be in a spot where you’re still trying to fix some stuff. But we’re trying to get some things cleaned up.”
One of the areas of concern for the R.H.S. coaching staff is kick return coverage. The Wildcats allowed a couple of kick returns for touchdowns in two games late in the season, and even yielded a good kick return by Hampton a few weeks ago.
To read the full article, see the November 8, 2017 print or e-Herald edition of The Herald.