2022 FFN Game of the Week preview: Melbourne at Hoxie

Football Friday Night airs at 10:15pm on KAIT.
Football Friday Night airs at 10:15pm on KAIT.(Source: KAIT)
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 2:41 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2022 at 7:25 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HOXIE, Ark. (KAIT) - Our next Game of the Week features a matchup between two teams that haven’t met in the regular season since 2015. Melbourne will head to Lawrence County to face Hoxie. Kickoff is Friday at 7:00pm at Crider Field.

Hoxie Mustangs (2-1)

Head Coach Tom Sears says his Mustangs are starting to gel.

The defense has pretty much been there, for the most part, this season, but it was the setback against Westside two weeks ago (a 21-19 loss), that woke up the offense.

“Playing [Westside], obviously it wasn’t very good, just little mistakes,” senior offensive lineman Cooper Spradlin said. “After playing Paragould we definitely could realize everything just kind of melding together.”

The Mustangs bounced back, beating Paragould on the road, recording a shutout and scoring a season-high 38 points.

“I think the kids and the staff and everybody was just ready to play as soon as that other game was over,” Sears said. “Just to get it back and any time you can go and beat a 5A school, being a 3A school, we’re very proud of that. Our kids played very, very hard and very well and was just proud to get a win.

Hoxie turns their attention to Melbourne, a team that is undefeated after three impressive wins to start the season.

“Their kids remind us of ours, they play very hard, very physical, fly around and it’s exciting for our town, our school and we’re proud to be the game of the week,” Sears said.

Hoxie hopes to continue their momentum Friday night.

“I just think, you know, just don’t ever count us out, you can’t describe us by one game,” senior linebacker and defensive end Montrell Varner said. “Everybody has one bad game, I think we did a good job of handling adversity, we came back and got the dub next week.”

Melbourne Bearkatz (3-0)

It’s been a great start for the Bearkatz under first-year Head Coach Stu Smith. Melbourne is perfect to start the season, with wins over Bald Knob, Lonoke and Cave City.

Smith says the experience of the team has paid off so far.

“When it’s come time to have to make a difference in the ballgame, they’ve been able to step forward and we always talk about having big game players, we’ve had some big game players thus far,” Smith said. “We’re going in there and acting like it’s a playoff game for us because it’s a 3A team and a very good 3A team. And so we’re gonna go in there and give it our best shot knowing that they are going to be well prepared and not going to make many mistakes and we’ll have to play one of our better games.”

Melbourne has gotten it done offensively, putting up 30-plus in each of their first three games.

“We’ve been able to throw the ball a lot whenever we get our run shut down, we’ve also been able to run the ball a lot,” senior offensive and defensive tackle Buck Campbell said. “We’ve got quick receivers that can catch the ball anytime we need them to and just make big plays.”

The Bearkatz have arguably one of its toughest challenges of the season, beating Hoxie on the road, but talking to the players, they’re up for the task.

“We’ve been treating it like it’s our last game just like we always do,” senior linebacker and wide receiver Chayse Beene said. “As seniors, we ain’t got very many more of these games left and we’re really working hard in the offseason and we’re working hard this season to get as many wins as possible.”