North Little Rock’s Hobbs Knowlton bends but doesn’t break after making the catch against Marion on Friday. (Photo by Ed Knowlton)
It was as dominating as it has been all year-on both sides of the football.
The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats drubbed an undermanned Marion Patriots team 52-0 on homecoming Friday night.
“We can always find things to work on,” said head coach Brad Bolding. “They got off some good kickoff returns on us.”
Bolding and his coaching staff initiated a reward of helmet stickers to whomever got to their 30 yard line.
“They tried to avoid blocks,” Bolding said. “They got too wide and out of their lanes.”
The North Little Rock defense’s domination was the most noticeable.
The Charging Wildcats’ first team held the Patriot to just 17 yards of total offense in the first half and forced a turnover on Marion’s second play from scrimmage deep in their own territory.
Marion managed just 35 yards on North Little Rock’s first teamers for the entire game, half of the Patriots’ total for the entire game.
Bolding did say his offense played well, too.
“We chose not to punt,” Bolding said.
That doesn’t mean that the Charging Wildcats didn’t have a couple disappointments on offense.
They turned the ball over on downs twice including once inside Marion’s five.
“We wanted to work on some things,” Bolding said. “We had kicked a 37-yard field goal and we wanted to work on some things near the goal line.”
Bolding stressed that practicing things in a controlled environment during the week is nothing compared to putting things into action during a game if the opportunity arises.
Bolding did address a decision he made in the final minutes of Friday’s game. After driving down the field and getting near Marion’s goal line, Bolding chose to take a knee on four straight plays.
“There are two schools of thought,” Bolding said. “Some look at it as lack of respect and some see as a sportsmanship move. I prefer to look at it as a show of sportsmanship.”
SEASON WINDING DOWN
The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are gearing up for the last two weeks of the season, a road trip to Mountain Home and a home finale against Little Rock Central.
Bolding said he hopes his team is beginning to peak at the right time and are getting prepared to finish off what they hope to be a championship season.
Mountain Home, while looking as to be a long trip isn’t a concern for Bolding after trips to Longview, Texas, as well as Jonesboro.
“It’s a hostile environment,” Bolding said, “and we’ve always had a target on their back.”
Bolding credits his seniors for how they have handled the adversity this season.
“These guys are three-year starters,” Bolding said. “They have been in our system, played a lot of games. They have been through the process.”
The Charging Wildcats’ dominance has dominoed this season has allowed younger players to get game experience as well.
“Our JV has played well in games,” Bolding said. “I’m glad they have had the opportunity to get some game experience.”
As well as those seniors have played, they have led just as well, and Bolding also said the work they do in the offseason makes a difference.
“We demand a lot from them in the summer,” Bolding said. “We put a lot of work on them year round.”
All a part of what Bolding believes is what it takes to make a good team an elite team.