Throughout the 2021 high school football season, the Harmony Grove Hornets (8-3) have played against some of the best teams in the state, including Fordyce, Harding Academy and McGehee.
Even though the Hornets lost all three of these games, they have seen to be battle-tested against elite competition. They will have another elite opponent this Friday night in the second round of the 3A State Playoffs when they host the Glen Rose Beavers (8-2).
The Hornets are coming off a big home 35-29 win over the Harrisburg Hornets after being down by two-possession deficits twice in the first half. The Beavers are coming off a huge 47-12 home win over the Dollarway Cardinals.
The offense of Harmony Grove looks to continue their great combination of a well-balanced attack on a Glen Rose defense that has allowed only 15.7 points per game. The Beavers have explosive edge rushers that will make it hard for the Hornets to utilize outside runs and a highly efficient inside linebacker that are hard to run the ball up the middle. The Hornets are more efficient at running the ball to the outside. Senior Tobias Hicks last week rushed for his second straight 100-yard rushing performance by rushing for 116 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
The secondary for the Beavers is the most experienced unit on their team. Cornerback Conner Taylor is a player that can consistently lock down the team's best wide receiver through the entire game. He will likely to slow down sophomore wide receiver Landon Garrett in man-to-man coverage.
This will open up more availability for senior wide receiver Titus Lockhart or freshman wide receiver Trent Haygood. Last week, Haygood caught two deep receptions for 89 yards in the win over Harrisburg. Much of Harmony Grove's success on offense will depend on the health and consistency of sophomore quarterback Caleb Johnson. If Johnson can exploit great matchups and throw the ball to his receivers for medium-to-big yardage, the Hornets could surprise the talented defense of the Beavers.
Harmony Grove will face another aggressive offense in Glen Rose, who average 38.4 points per game. The Beavers possess a series of dynamic running backs that help establish consistency down throughout all four quarters. This game versus Glen Rose will be a battle in the trenches, something that the defense of Harmony Grove have proven to be victorious in. The defensive line of Harmony Grove finds ways to win certain matchups all along the defensive. The interior defensive line will be the anchor for a solid run support, as will inside linebackers Tobias Hicks and Daniel Hill.
If the Hornets can force multiple turnovers on offense like they have been able all season like in games against Junction City and Dollarway, the Hornets will be to generate some big scoring. The defense cannot allow themselves to be down multiple possessions in the first half like they have been in wins against Rison and Harrisburg. Glen Rose is too efficient and well-balanced to take too long to find scoring drives.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Harmony Grove.