Tonight, it's one of those unusual "Friday Night Lights" showdowns on the gridiron as Friday the 13th has made it's presence for week 7 of high school football and the hometown Hope Bobcats are on the road to face Hot Springs Lakeside Rams in 5A South Conference play.

Tonight, it's one of those unusual "Friday Night Lights" showdowns on the gridiron as Friday the 13th has made it's presence for week 7 of high school football and the hometown Hope Bobcats are on the road to face Hot Springs Lakeside Rams in 5A South Conference play.

The Rams are one of two team unbeaten in conference play, tied with Watson Chapel for the first place spot in league standings. The Rams are picked to win the conference going into the start of the season voted by league coaches in the preseason predictions according to Hooten's Arkansas Football.

Lakeside has always been one of those unpredictable teams that provide trouble on both sides of the football with well execution. The Rams have been effective through their spread formation offensively, but show a strong running attack with on of the top running backs in the conference of Durpree Swanson, a returning starter and playmaker for Lakeside.

Swanson accounted for three touchdowns scored and rushed for 92 yards on the ground in Lakeside's win against White Hall 29-21. He racked up nearly 200 yards rushing in Lakeside victory against Magnolia 43-35 two weeks ago and 234 yards rushing in the Rams battle hosting Camden-Fairview at home. Swanson scored four touchdowns to secure a Lakeside win against Camden-Fairview during conference action.

Thus far, Swanson has rushed over 1,000 yards rushing and Hope football head coach Jay Turley knows it's going to be key to limit the powerful and skilled running back of Lakeside in order to have a chance to win.

Turley said the Rams use Swanson like their go-to-player and the Cats will need to be very efficient in their defense.

"Lakeside has some weapons and a very good running back [D. Swanson] that runs hard, big and physical who probably is the go to guy. Defensively we have to play smart and tackle well. Lakeside has a different style of defense than we have faced and they're just a really good football team," Turley said.

The Bobcats defense really has been the more consistent group on the field this season. They have had good series of stops in the previous games, but with several key guys having to play both ways and the offensive unit not as productive, puts the defense in situations that keep them on the field longer.

Turley feels they can be a really good football team, but a lot of the little things of missed assignments, blocking and mental focus has haunted them in recent battles from their execution. He knows they have been limited with depth and several key players out due to injuries, but the Cats are still working hard and showing up for work and Turley believes that positivity will help and hopefully turn things around for the remaining games of the season.

"We're just going to continue to get better and stay motivated, but have to be more physical and discipline and try to do things well and not make mental errors. We've been inexperienced at spots offensively with out line. We have lost some players and faced so many injuries with not the same group of lineman each game this season. We don't have a lot of depth and hope we can mature in our line. The kids are still working hard and show up for work and feel like they can get better if we can get a couple of wins," Turley said.

"This will be a tough road battle for us. Lakeside is tough to play at home and we must find a way to overcome adversity. Until we do, we'll see the same results and just learn how to fight through some things," Turley said.

The Cats will have to be able to execute offensively through a defensive style of a 3-3 stack that brings heat and blitz from the Rams. Turley said, Lakeside does a good job creating running room and the Cats must take advantage of opportunities offensively utilizing the ground attack to score once inside the red zone.

The Rams are tied for first and unbeaten with Watson Chapel at 3-0 in conference thus far. Last week, Turley just felt his Cats were out-matched against a tough Watson Chapel team and that had a lot of depth on both sides. Since then, the Bobcats junior varsity showed some productivity in their game against Magnolia on Monday night. The JV Bobcats came up short to Magnolia 26-22, but Turley thought his team played hard well and hope it can carry over for the rest of the season and into next year.

"We are doing some things really well in junior varsity we can work on. We just have to continue to work on it. There are some bright spots we can get better, but we'll have to get stronger and gain more weight. The effort is there, just got to get better every week," Turley said.

The Bobcats know it's been a rough season, but they're competing every week and Turley hopes everyone will see the hard work and effort they bring to continue to support them.

"No matter how rough the season is, just hope people are positive to the kids. They don't need any negativity when come to the games, but just support them. They don't deserve negative comments," Turley said.

The Bobcats haven't won since the 2015 postseason, but they're determine to keep battling for victory once get a win under their belts. Each week they keep a mentality of winning according to Turley, but they must polish up on their execution and play better football in order to have a chance.

Lakeside has won the last two meetings against the Bobcats. Last year, the Rams defeated the Cats 53-27 in Hope. The Rams have always been able to score, but the Cats look to spoil the evening in Lakeside in hopes for victory for a night that anything can happen on Friday the 13th.

Kickoff set at 7 p.m. in Lakeside.

5A South Conference Standings

Watson Chapel (3-0 in conf., 4-2 overall)

HS Lakeside (3-0 in conf., 4-3 overall)

Hot Springs (1-2 in conf., 1-5 overall)

White Hall (1-2 in conf., 4-2 overall)

De Queen (2-1 in conf., 3-3 overall)

Camden Fairview (2-1 in conf., 2-4 overall)

Magnolia (0-3 in conf., 1-5 overall)

Hope (0-3 in conf., 0-6 overall)

 

2017 Friday Night Lights 5A Conference Week 7 Schedule

October 13

HOPE at Hot Springs Lakeside

Hot Springs at Magnolia

Camden-Fairview at De Queen

White Hall at Watson Chapel