Bobcats ready to kick off 2017 season at Decatur

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Berryville's Isaac Brown makes a cut in last Friday's scrimmage at Harrison.
Charles Chappell /

The Berryville football season kicks off in earnest on Friday night when the Bobcats hit the road to take on the Decatur Bulldogs. While the Bobcats have beaten Decatur the last three years by a combined score of 129-25, first-year Berryville coach Doug Shott is not taking the Bulldogs lightly.

"A couple of things concern me about Decatur," Shott said. "Number one, we are going there. On the road, things tend to be a little different than when you are at home. I'm concerned that in the past we have taken care of Decatur fairly easily and it worries me that our kids are looking past them. I remind them that we are still trying to go 1-0, so letís go take care of business on the field. And the third thing, they are a lot quicker than people realize. They have several kids that are listed at running 4.6 (40-yard dashes), which is as fast or faster than anybody that we have."

Senior Johnny Brandon was a part of the state championship 4x100 meter relay team for the Bulldogs. Senior linebacker Alex Lee led the team in tackles a year ago and can also play running back.

"They have a couple of really good skill kids, so we just don't want to be foolish and donít want to have to fight tooth and nail if we don't have to," Shott said.

Decatur likes to run its offense out of a Pro-I formation with multiple sets. The Bulldogs will also break out the Pistol formation.

"They will run a Pistol spread scheme," Shott said. "They like to run outside zone, middle trap and a couple power plays. They like to hit bubbles (screens) and combination routes."

Shott knows it will be important for the offensive line to play well.

"I am going to be seeing how their progression with understanding the rules are," Shott said. "Most of the time, we will be seeing an odd front on defense. It will be a 3-5 from them, but it wouldn't surprise me if they switch to an even front defense during the game. I'm just looking to make sure we are making progress and understanding the rules so that we are actually carrying out those blocks instead of just thinking about them."

Decatur, a Class 2A school, has always had trouble competing with larger schools such as Berryville, strictly because of a lack of depth. The original Decatur roster listed 17 players, but by Friday first-year coach Ryan Woolard hopes to increase that number to at least 20.

"Roster numbers aren't good for them, but for their level of football that is what you get sometimes unless you are at one of the more traditional smaller schools," Shott said.

Shott said practice hasn't been the best this week, but he expects the Bobcats to come out and play well Friday night.

"I wouldn't say we have had knockdown, stellar practices, but most of it has been OK," Shott said. "Most of it on Tuesday was pretty good until toward the end when we lost our focus. We got our focus back before we left. We are preaching to our kids that regardless of who we are playing, you get better or you get worse every day. You never stay the same. It's true for all of us."

Heading into the game at Decatur, Shott said the Bobcats are as healthy as he could hope for.

"We didn't come out too banged up after Harrison," Shott said. "We had a few bumps and bruises, but that comes with football. Injury-wise, nobody has any major injuries."

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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