Reeltown’s football team may only hold two victories from its brutal schedule to this point in the season, but it still stands on solid footing when it comes to the state playoff picture.
Why? Because both of those wins were in region play.
If the Rebels can capture a third region victory against 1-5 Beulah this Friday, they’ll be on the verge of locking up a postseason berth all together. The Bobcats’ record doesn’t mean Reeltown coach Matt Johnson is taking them lightly, however.
“I would say they’re probably the most talented one-win team in the state,” Johnson said. “Their record is not at all indicative of the type of team they have.”
Beulah’s offense centers around its running game.
The Bobcats operate from a spread look, often utilizing three wide receivers from a shotgun. Sophomore running back Jacori Tarver leads the charge out the backfield, running with a low center of gravity at 5-foot-8, 210 pounds, creating a load for defenders to bring down by themselves. Even for the two unbeaten teams Beulah has played to this point.
“He’s a big back, and he also runs really well,” Johnson said. “He’s extremely talented. He’s been able to move the ball on everybody they played, that’s including (Montgomery) Catholic, Trinity.”
Tarver also plays linebacker for Beulah, a physical presence that helps stop opposing run games and rush the passer on blitzes.
When he doesn’t carry the ball, freshman Drew Duval enters as more of a speed back to complement Tarver’s bruising style.
Junior quarterback Noah Higdon can’t be discounted as a runner either, liable to pull the ball and use his dynamic abilities on option plays. He’ll also line up at free safety for the Bobcats, where he’s intercepted a pass or two this year.
“Their quarterback’s a good ballplayer, he’s athletic also,” Johnson said. “Defensively and offensively up front, they’re extremely big. You watch them on film and they’re in games.”
The Rebels have always sought to establish the run on offense before opening things up through the air, but Johnson is expecting Beulah to add extra defenders near the line of scrimmage to slow Reeltown running back Dakarian “Juicy” Hughley.
“They’ll load the box against us to stop our run game and make us have to throw the ball,” Johnson said. “We’ve gotta be prepared for that. But they’re really big up front, they’ve got enough athletes where they can give you some trouble. And they’ve given people some trouble.”
Johnson placed an added emphasis on improving the finer points of his team’s passing game during its bye week two weeks ago, and said he noticed steps in the right direction in a tight 17-14 defeat against undefeated Trinity Presbyterian last week.
More progress this week could be key for Reeltown’s offensive production.
“I feel like we improved in that area a little bit last week with our intermediate passes,” Johnson said. “We hit some short passes and got some chunk yardage just by getting the ball to people in certain matchups. We’ve still got to improve on our deep shots. We still missed a couple open receivers last week for whatever reason, whether it’s pressure or timing, and that was a huge emphasis in practice last week.”
Reeltown and Beulah kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at Nix-Webster-O’Neal Stadium.