The Sylvan Hills Bears have a unique opportunity in front of them this week. After bouncing back from a road loss at Helena-West Helena, the Bears made short work of the Little Rock McClellan Lions 49-22.
This week is the big one.
The Bears battle the Pulaski Academy Bruins on Friday for what will amount to a tie for the conference championship providing Sylvan Hills can take care of business against North Pulaski in the regular season finale.
Coach Jim Withrow sees Friday as an opportunity to shock the state, but in order to do that; he said his team would have to remain focused.
“We can’t make silly mistakes,” Withrow said. “We have to play within ourselves.”
Withrow said the challenge for his team is to not look across the line and allow them to be intimidated by what is believed to be a powerhouse football team.
The Bruins do some unconventional things such as rarely if ever punting and loading up on one side during kickoffs and kicking onside or sky kicking.
Withrow said he would likely deploy a hands team to counter the threat of the onside kick.
But the main thing that the Bears will have to do is not take themselves out the game by turning the ball over, but Withrow said his team is up for it, and is mature enough to handle the big stage.
“I think they are ready,” Withrow said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but I think it’s a challenge that we can handle. We just have to play our game.”
The Bears will be a bit short handed at running back with the loss of Tyler Davis to a collarbone injury. Kylon Wade replaced Davis last week rushing 18 times for 170 yards and a touchdown, but Withrow was reluctant to say that Wade would play much offense because of his value on defense.
“I think we are going to be more running back by committee,” Withrow said.
A Pulaski Academy win will sew up another conference title for them after they thumped Little Rock Mills last week giving them their second 5A-Central setback of the season. The Bears, by losing to Helena-West Helena will fall short of a league crown with a loss Friday as well barring a Bruins’ stumble in week 10.
The bottom line is a win. That win will shock the state and catapult an already rising program directly into the state high school spotlight.