Senior night will be huge for the Camden Fairview Cardinals (6-2; 4-1 in 5A South Conference play), when the team's seniors play last regular season game at home as they host the Hot Springs Trojans (7-1; 4-1).
Not only is this a big game for the seniors, but this matchup will have a huge impact in the race for the 5A South Conference title. The Cardinals will need to defeat Hot Springs on Friday and then the Parkview Patriots (8-0; 5-0) next Friday night on the road to be in contention for the title. In order to win the conference, the Patriots will need to defeat either the Lakeside Rams this Friday night or the Trojans next Friday.
Once again, the Cardinals are preparing for the high-scoring offense of the Trojans and their pass-dominant schemes.
Hot Springs senior Matthew Contreras has been one of the most explosive passing quarterbacks in the state. In eight games played this season, Contreras has completed 100-of-183 of his passes for 1,798 yards, 20 touchdowns, only two interceptions and a quarterback rating of 120.4. He is averaging 18 yards per completion and 224.8 yards per game. It helps that he often throws to an elite receiver in Taurean Brogdo, who has caught 41 receptions for 707 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Last year, the Cardinals held the Trojans to only 147 yards and a completion percentage of 42.8% in the passing game. The Cardinals' defense also accounted for 21 quarterback hurries. The Cardinals beat the Trojans 34-7 last year.
The Cardinals' defense, especially the secondary, should be just as good, if not better, than last year's group. The secondary is led by three-year starter and two-time All-State selection senior nickel Jabauree Lockhart and senior cornerback Matt Davis. Davis has accounted for six pass breakups and two interceptions this season, while Lockhart has accounted for five pass breakups and four interceptions. Junior safety Ronald Buckhanan has accounted for three pass breakups and two interceptions.
Cardinals junior quarterback Darrell Atkins Jr. leads an offense just as efficient as that of the Trojans'. Atkins has completed 114-of-183 of his passes for 1,795 yards, 18 touchdowns, only five interceptions and a quarterback rating of 116.3. He has been efficient in getting the ball to multiple receivers with different skillsets.
Junior slot receiver Trent Haygood has been the most dynamic weapon for the Cardinals' offense. Senior Jaylen Goodwin has been the deep vertical threat since the start of the season. And Lockhart has been playing more reps on offense as he can line up on the outside and run different unique routes. In the Cardinals' last two dominating wins over De Queen and Hope, Lockhart has caught six receptions for 163 yards and six touchdowns.
The Cardinals have not only experimented with Lockhart at receiver in the last two games, but they've also developed in their running game. Camden Fairview rushed for 499 yards and five touchdowns on 48 carries in the wins over De Queen and Hope. The offensive line continues to switch around their stacked and reliable set of players.
Junior running back Justin Frazier has become a late season breakout performer for the Cardinals. In the past two games, Frazier has rushed for 250 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He rushed for 133 yards on 15 carries in the win at De Queen as well as 117 yards and and a touchdown in the win at Hope.
Camden Fairview is set to host Hot Springs on Friday night at 7 p.m.