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White Hall grinds out clock, wins

by Adam Cole | November 28, 2021 at 2:14 a.m.

For Bobby Bolding, there's nothing more discouraging than his defense giving up a long drive.

"It's demoralizing when someone can grind it on you," the White Hall coach said. "You get to where you kind of want to panic defensively when somebody's 4-yarding you to death. You want to start doing things you don't normally do."

On Friday, White Hall's (11-2) offense did just that in its 24-14 win against Little Rock Christian, grinding out long drives against the Warriors.

The Bulldogs held onto the ball for 29:39 -- more than half the game. They averaged 3:18 minutes per drive, but three drives of 4-plus minutes, including an 8:57 possession to start the second half, helped White Hall maintain control.

"I think it's very important to our success, keeping our defense off the field, and just being able to stay on schedule offensively, getting 3 yards at a time, and just grinding it out," Bolding said. "We've got kids that are playing ball ways, so it shortens the game up as well."

It's not uncommon for White Hall to win the time of possession battle, either. In nine of its 13 games this season, it has held onto the ball longer than its opponent. It's posted a 7-2 record in those games, and is 4-0 in games when it's held onto the ball for less time than its opponent, though that hasn't happened since Oct. 15, when it beat Watson Chapel 42-14. Since that game, the Bulldogs have won the possession battle for five consecutive weeks. In those games, they've averaged about 30 minutes of possession time a game, up 4:25 from their season average.

Bolding said the uptick in possession time is more coincidence than anything.

"We haven't been able to pop the big play," Bolding said. "So, it's just been a grind."

While it's been a grind, the Bulldogs have had multiple players step up in that role. On Friday, it was quarterback Matthew Martinez and running backs Durran Cain and Zaire Green. Including those three, White Hall has five players with 200-plus rushing yards this year. But to Bolding, it's a system that takes more than just capable runners.

"It goes to your offensive line and fullbacks and tight ends," Bolding said. "You're doing multiple block schemes and they're to grind it out, and it's harder to coach than just passing it every play. That's not a knock against passing, because you can run a million different routes. Our philosophy is a little different. I'm an old offensive lineman, so we're going to coach at the line of scrimmage."

Wilcox hangs tough

Despite questions surrounding his status, Greenbrier senior quarterback Cooper Wilcox suited up for the Panthers in their season-ending 38-28 loss to Pulaski Academy.

Following Greenbrier's win against Wynne in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, Wilcox posted to his Instagram account that he'd played his last game as a Panther. Leading up to this weekend's game, both Wilcox and Greenbrier Coach Randy Tribble declined to comment on the quarterback's status. Following Friday's loss, Tribble told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that Wilcox had separated his shoulder against the Yellowjackets. And while the expectation was that Wilcox wouldn't play, he improved health-wise throughout the week.

Despite his injury, Wilcox had a season-high 42 passing attempts against Pulaski Acedemy, throwing for 248 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He also had a team-high 85 rush yards and another 2 scores on the ground.

Wisdom's TD trend

Shiloh Christian quarterback Eli Wisdom turned in a big performance for the Saints in their 41-7 win against Rivercrest. The junior finished with 5 touchdowns, 3 of which came on the ground, one through the air, and he also returned an interception for a touchdown.

Five-touchdown nights aren't uncommon for Wisdom, and the Rivercrest victory was his fifth five-touchdown game this season. He also had five-score nights against Pea Ridge, Page (Okla.), Berryville and Gentry. He had a six-score night against Nashville.

Wisdom has scored 52 offensive touchdowns in 13 games, an average of 4 a game.

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