By JASON KING
The Beebe Badgers passed their biggest test of the season last week with a 7-0, homecoming victory over Wynne to remain unbeaten in the 5A-East Conference.
The Badgers will face another tough test this week when they hit the road to face Blytheville at Haley Field Friday.
The Chickasaws (3-3, 1-2) dropped their conference game 13-8 to Greene County Tech. They suffered a 35-26, Week-4 conference loss to Wynne before beating Nettleton 41-12 the following week.
“They are very athletic,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “They look very good on tape — their running backs especially. They will go from their single wing to the spread. Their quarterback can throw, andthey have a couple of receivers that can fly.
“Defensively, it’s going to be a challenge for us just because they do so many different things.”
The Badgers (3-3, 3-0) have improved their ranking in the 5A polls each week since the start of their conference schedule three weeks ago. They were expected to beat a down Paragould team despite entering that game with a 0-3 non-conference record and delivered with a 60-14 rout.
Next was a road game at favored Forrest City, where Beebe began to earn respect around the conference with a 41-33 upset victory, but the following week’s game against the Yellowjackets was the Badgers’ best performance of the year.
Beebe held Wynne’s offense to 107 yards, including 88 rushing. The defense did not allow a drive inside the 20, stopping the Yellowjackets’ Diamond-T rushing attack in its tracks.
“The real turning point for us was the second half of the Forrest City game,” Shannon said. “We’re down at the half — we’re playing decent but not good enough to win. But we go out for the second half and play solid on both sides of the ball.
“I told the coaches that night I saw something I haven’t seen in two years in our defense. They played with emotion and a sense of urgency, and they really got after Forrest City in the second half.”
The Badgers did not have the same high-octane offensive performances against Wynne they enjoyed in the Paragould and Forrest City victories, but still managed 326 yards, led by senior fullback Colby Taylor’s 152 yards on 23 carries.
In fact, Taylor made the game’s only score when he broke free from the line of scrimmage and ran 52 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game. Beebe had a couple of other chances but fell short when promising drives stalled.
The Chickasaws will present a challenge for the Badgers with a 4-4 defense that has given up an average of 12.5 points the last two weeks.
Letdowns can sometimes follow big victories like last week’s triumph over Wynne, in which the Badgers shut an opponent out for the first time since 2007, but Shannon does not expect focus to be an issue for his team.
“You always worry about letdowns, especially with high-school kids,” Shannon said. “But our kids realize the big picture, that we are in position to go after a conference championship. And, we’re not in the playoffs just yet. We probably need at least one more win to be guaranteed to get in the playoffs.
“We’re not that far removed from being 0-3, so that’s also in the back of their heads. I like where my team is at physically and mentally; I’d be surprised if we had any letdowns.
“Now, Blytheville will have a lot to say on whether we win or lose, but I’d be shocked if we weren’t ready.”