GREENWOOD -- Greenwood's pass rush provided a crucial element in a win over Little Rock Christian four weeks ago to clinch the 6A-West championship and a top seed in the Class 6A state playoffs.
For Greenwood to win its 11th state championship, the Bulldogs will once again count on a pass rush, albeit a disciplined one, in the rematch in the Class 6A state championship game against the Warriors and touted quarterback Walker White tonight at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
"I'm more focused on making sure we contain him [White] and keep him in the pocket for as long as possible," Greenwood senior defensive end Brenden Chick said. "Any opening he sees, he'll hit it hard and pick up a nice chunk for them."
Chick is part of Greenwood's formidable three-man front along with nose man Brady Pettigrew and Cash Archer at the other end.
They've combined for 21 1/2 sacks with Archer providing the bulk of them and leading the state with 16. He also has 26 hurries, which explains most teams concentrating on him with their game plan. Little Rock Christian was no different in the earlier matchup.
"The first meeting, they tried to divvy up the double-teams and not give Cash too many easy things," Chick said. "Other than that, it was like anyone else."
Chick, Pettigrew and Archer are used to double-teams.
"All three of our defensive linemen really are threats to the opposing teams," Chick said. "All three of our defensive linemen, you can't prepare for just one of us because if you prepare for one of us, the other two are going to come pretty hard."
With three equal parts, it means one of the other three will flourish.
"It's nice," Chick said. "You either double-team those two and I'm going to get to you, or you double-team me and Pettigrew, Cash is going to get up on you quick. If you double,team us, then Pettigrew is going to get it done."
Aside from a 43-22 loss to Shiloh Christian early in the season when White was 15-of-35 passing for 149 yards and no touchdowns, White's worst game was in the 56-39 loss to Greenwood when he misfired on his first four passes of the game and finished 22 of 35 for 282 yards with 1 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He did run for 77 yards and three touchdowns, which is definitely another of his strong points.
"He's tough, he's a bigger body and he can sling the rock," Chick said. "It's tough. It's a challenge, but we like a challenge around here."
Greenwood's defense has been particularly tough against the pass with 23 interceptions forced largely by a pass rush.
"I'm more of a pass rush guy. That's when get to show off a little bit and get to the quarterback," Chick said. "I'm looking forward to a lot of excitement and fun."
Offensively, Greenwood will again try to be balanced in its attack, which has suited it well this season. The Bulldogs have averaged more than 200 yards per game both rushing and passing.
Senior Brayedan Davis has been a key, rushing for 1,426 yards and 23 touchdowns on 208 carries.
"I couldn't have asked for a better season," Davis said. "My O-linemen are playing great. Everybody around me is playing good. Being back in the state game means more than anything. We just want to get there and win it."
The running back position was maybe considered unsettled going into the season, but Davis ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against Stillwater, Okla., and has been solid throughout the season.
"Not everything is guaranteed," Davis said. "I just had to do try my hardest in every practice and every game and make sure I'm doing everything right."
Davis has benefited from sophomore Kane Archer, who has thrown for 2,206 yards and 13 touchdowns as well as his 558 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Receivers Grant Karnes and L.J. Robins have combined for 29 touchdown receptions.
"Being able to run the ball and pass the ball as well as we do," Davis said, "you can't really tell what we're going to do; give me the ball or pass it to Grant or L.J. out there."
Chick and Davis, senior leaders on separate sides of the ball for the Bulldogs, said they have been driven by losses in each of the past two state championship games.
"Oh yeah," Davis said. "Losing those two state games hurt a lot more than I thought it would. Coming back this year, we've got to prove something."