Riverfield (3-1) at Prairie View (4-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Prairie View has barely worked up a sweat while rolling up a 4-0 record. Coach Bo Barton says that's about to change as the Spartans await Friday night's much-anticipated home tilt with Riverfield (3-1). Kickoff time is set for 7 p.m. at Dr. E.D. Baker Field.
Since opening the season with a 49-32 loss to Central Hinds, the Class 3A Raiders have won three straight at the expense of Porter's Chapel (39-21), River Oaks (34-0) and Hillcrest Christian (55-12).
Barton says preparing for the Raiders made for an unpleasant weekend.
"I worked my tail off all weekend trying to find a weakness," Barton said. "I looked all weekend for something to exploit, and never found it. They're just solid everywhere.
"It got to the point that I was ready to say, 'Let's work on Glenbrook. Glenbrook's district, so let's work on the district game.'"
Riverfield coach Boyd Cole doesn't expect the Spartans to be looking ahead to Glenbrook. But he is expecting a playoff type setting.
"I expect to win the ballgame, and Bo does, too," said Cole, a former longtime Sterlington assistant who coached against Barton's Rayville and Caldwell teams. "They're undefeated. We're 3-1 and have won three straight. It's going to be exciting. I think it's going to be one of the better games around. I'm looking forward to it. People are going to be lined up at the gate in Bastrop, Louisiana Friday night."
Barton's Spartans biggest test this season, thus far, came in the preseason in an 8-6 jamboree win over Riverfield. Prairie View has trailed only once during the regular season, falling behind 6-0 in the season opener when Union Christian recovered a Spartans' fumble in the end zone. In its closest game to this point, Prairie View eventually defeated UCA 36-12, followed by decisive victories over CHEF (42-6), Wilkinson County Christian (34-0) and Acadiana Home School (46-0).
Barton is quick to point out that the Spartans have yet to face a foe of the Raiders' caliber during the regular season.
"Riverfield is the whole package," Barton said. "We have played against a couple of teams that had good quarterbacks. We have played against a couple of teams that had good running backs, and maybe a good quarterback and a good receiver or a good offensive line or really good linebackers. But we haven't played a team that's as complete as Riverfield is.
"This may be the best team they have ever had. Quarterback, running backs, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, secondary — they have everything you need to be a good football team, and they are extremely well-coached."
Barton is also concerned about the Raiders' depth, which wasn't a factor in the abbreviated jamboree matchup.
"They have twice as many kids as we have," Barton said. "It's going to be a real challenge for us to stay on the field with them. By far, this is the best team we have played, and might be the best team we play all year.
"I just hope we can slow them down."
For Prairie View's defense the task is to stall the Raiders' running game.
"We're going to come right at you," Cole said. "If you stop us from running the ball downhill, you are going to beat us. Somebody asked me the other day if we are going to run the splitback veer Friday night. I said, 'Every snap.'"
Running back Cole Garrett, who has broken the 100-yard barrier three times en route to rushing for a team-high 458 yards, leads the Raiders offensively, along with running back/kick returner Zach Carnegie. Sophomore Garrett Brakefield, who is playing quarterback for the first time at any level, directs the attack. Senior right tackle Alex Bolton is the pillar up front.
End Luke Williams and linebacker Josh Prine are the backbone of the Raiders' defense.
"Our kids play hard defensively," Cole said. "We may not play great and we may not be super fast, but we fly to the football."
Riverfield must deal with Prairie View quarterback Hayes Crockett, whose brother, Lucas Crockett, coaches the Raiders' secondary.
"We gotta stop Hayes Crockett because he can run and throw. He's a great quarterback," Cole said. "I respect their football program. Bo does a great job. He has the kids believing in their offense, and that's 90 percent of high school football."
Hayes Crockett has completed 33-of-52 passes for 665 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing 30 times for 250 yards and three scores. Tailback Layton Rainbolt (37 carries, 385 yards, 8 TDs; 10 receptions, 158 yards) and wide receiver/tailback Tanner Caldwell (13 carries, 141 yards, 6 TDs; 12 receptions, 265 yards, 4 TDs) round out the Spartans' playmaking trio.
Defensively, the Spartans are led by linebackers Austin Carroll and Jacob Farrar and defensive end Kolton Farrar.
Next week, the Spartans board the bus for Minden to take on Glenbrook.