Bobcats face tough schedule under first-year head coach
The Berryville Bobcats head into the 2017 football season with a new coach and a renewed hope. But the Bobcats’ difficult schedule is still a challenge.
Three of the Bobcats’ 4A-1 opponents reached the state playoff semifinals last season. Berryville also has road games against Gravette and Huntsville, both of which reached the playoffs last season.
"This is definitely one of the more difficult conferences in 4A football," Berryville coach Doug Shott said. "Of course, Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge are both ranked high depending on which poll you pay attention to. And then you throw in the other two big dogs in Shiloh Christian and Gravette. It's a tough conference. We plan to bust people in the mouth, so to speak, and let them know we are still around and we are ready to be a part of this conference."
After a road game at Decatur to start the season, the Bobcats play three consecutive home games against Clinton, Green Forest and Shiloh Christian. Shott, who is new to the area, understands how important the game against Green Forest is.
"Since I took this job, that game has been circled about 15 times in my calendar," Shott said. "I know how important that game is to this school, this community. Green Forest is big. I know coach (Bobby) Bishop is doing a good job over there and they have it on their calendar as well."
Shott said those early games are important in terms of confidence.
"It's important for our kids' mindset," Shott said. "We have to turn the page as far as how we think about ourselves. Early success would go a long ways in helping us with that."
In week five, Berryville travels to Gentry. Last year, the Bobcats beat Gentry to get their first conference win in three years. The game at Gentry is followed by a homecoming game against Lincoln on Oct. 6. Berryville finishes the season with a road trip to Gravette, home games against Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove and another game at Huntsville. Each of those teams reached the Class 4A playoffs last year.
"It's a tough conference, no doubt, but we are excited about it," Shott said. "We are working hard and getting better."
Berryville will have a Purple and Gold game at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 followed by a benefit game at Harrison at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25.
"I am just hoping to see an improvement in blocking and tackling between now and then," Shott said. "We know that. That is something we are addressing. Rolling into Decatur we are ready to put fundamentals and execution together for a real game."