Prairie View (5-1) at Riverdale (4-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Playing its final regular season road game, Prairie View tangles with Riverdale on Friday at 7 p.m.
This marks the second straight long trip for the Spartans. At least this ride will be considerably shorter — Friday's trip to Coushatta is about half the distance in comparison to Gulfport, Mississippi.
Returning to action from a two-week layoff, which included an open date and a forfeit, the Spartans overpowered Christian Collegiate 40-18 in their last outing. Opening up a 40-2 halftime spread, Prairie View eased up in the second half.
Leading the way offensively for the Spartans (5-1) are guard Caleb Christmas and wide receivers Layton Woodard and Greg Tatum.
Key defenders are linemen Mason King and Tyler Peters, along with cornerback Cade Murphy.
Coach Bo Barton says the midseason break has worked to the Spartans' advantage.
"One thing about the two-week layoff is it cleared up a lot of body aches and injuries," Barton said. "We have a lot of people healthy right now."
Shaking off a 1-2 start, which included a win over Rebel (46-20) and back-to-back losses to Prentiss Christian (27-8) and Wilkinson County Christian (50-22), the Rebels are currently riding a three-game winning streak.
"The thing about them is they have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat," Barton said. "They played well against Prentiss, and were only down 8-6 at halftime.
"We can't just go into Riverdale and say, 'We're going to win the ballgame.'"
Over the course of the winning streak, the 4-2 Rebels have defeated Christian Collegiate (10-6), Claiborne Academy (30-14) and Franklin Academy (34-22).
"They lost a lot of seniors last year, so they are kind of young," Barton said. "Coach (Jared) Barber has done a good job in his first year over there. They fly to the ball on defense. Offensively, they like to run the football. When you get behind, you have to sling it a little bit, and he's not afraid to sling it around. They're a well-coached football team."
As their results would indicate, Barton says the Rebels have improved considerably since the start of the season.
"I have five tapes on them, and I see them getting progressively better, which says a lot about the direction the program is headed," Barton said. "I'm glad we are playing them in Week 6. I would hate to see them in Week 10 if they continue to progress."
Though Prairie View has to be regarded as the prohibitive favorite, Barton says his team can't afford to look past the Rebels.
"We have to treat it as a business trip, and do what we need to do," Barton said. "We have to take care of our business in this one with Prenitss and Briarfield coming in. Those are two teams that can destroy our season."
Prairie View closes out the regular season with a three-game homestand, starting with next Friday's homecoming tilt vs. Prentiss.