By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
The second-round of the 2018 Class 3A football playoffs this Friday will see Prescott High School square off against the Yellowjackets again, only this time, the more formidable and undefeated 11-0 Clinton Yellowjackets.
Under the leadership of Coach Chris Dufrene, Clinton is riding the wave of a 49-0 demolition of the Charleston Tigers in last week’s playoff opener and will have home field advantage again this week up in Clinton.
Before meeting Clinton’s Yellowjackets, Prescott took care of the Mountain View Yellowjackets 42-6 in their opening round game last week in Prescott.
Facing Clinton, the Curley Wolves will see a team that looks much like itself.
Both teams come in averaging over 40 points per game, and both teams have seen peak scoring performances in the 2nd Quarter of their games this year, Prescott averaging 17 points, while Clinton is right behind averaging 16 points.
But while both teams have averaged over 371 yards in offense, they have moved the ball in different ways, which could be to the Curley Wolves advantage on Friday.
Both teams have featured strong rushing attacks; Prescott has averaged 253 rushing yards, while Clinton has averaged slightly more at 279 rushing yards per game.
Prescott, however, has shown better balance with a passing attack, led competently by QB Ryan Johnson, averaging 166 yards in the air, while the Yellowjackets have averaged just 99 yards throwing over the course of the season.
Against Mountain View last week, Johnson completed 8-of-12 passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns. Cameron Cox collected most of those throws, three for 54 yards, while Jocobi Nolen, Keonte Franklin, and Quantas Gulley each caught one pass, but each were touchdowns. Franklin had the long TD reception of 43 yards on the night.
Showing balance, the Curley Wolves also gained 197 yards on the ground, and that balanced attack may prove to be the difference Friday night.
In their game against Charleston, Yellowjacket QB Weston Amos hit 5-of-8 for his season average, 99 yards, and one touchdown.
Rushing the ball, however, Amos carried 7 times for 163 yards, while Caleb Bowman added 104 yards on 10 carries, and Sky Davidson had 87 yards on 8 carries. All together, Clinton amassed an awesome 400 yards rushing, resulting in five touchdowns on the ground.
To counter the Clinton Yellowjackets, Prescott will need a big defensive effort from two of their season leaders, Colton Johnson and Trey Rucker. Last Friday, it was Johnson who led the way, with five tackles and 10 assists. Jack Arnette stepped up to add two tackles and six assists, along with Derrin Thompson and Colton Gierth, both of whom registered a solo tackle along with five assists. As a team, Prescott made 36 tackles last week against Mountain View.
Prescott also had four fumble recoveries, including two by Cade Poole, and turnovers on Friday night may prove to be the difference between the two evenly matched teams.
In defeating Charleston, the Yellowjackets had a couple of turnovers of their own, intercepting two passes from Tiger QB Brandon Ross, and Clinton held the Tigers to 150 yards on total offense in the shutout performance.
Clinton, located in Van Buren County, will represent roughly a two-and-a-half hour road trip north for the 10-1 Curley Wolves.
The winner between Prescott and Clinton will take on the winner of the other Quad 4 semifinal game between Newport and McGehee, also being played Friday night in Newport. The two survivors are scheduled to play Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving.