The Malvern Leopards escaped week 1 with a 33-27 win against Hot Spring County rivals the Glen Rose Beavers.
The Leopards posted 229 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns against the Beavers. Then complimented the ground attack with 120 passing yards and one passing touchdown to help seal the win.
“It’s great,” head football coach J.D. Plumlee said about the win and going 1-0 to start the season. “It’s good for the kids because they’ve worked hard for it and there was a lot uncertainties going into it.”
Plumlee feels that a win in week 1 was a confidence booster especially going against their rivals Glen Rose. “It’s been a big confidence booster to get a win against a team like that. I told Coach Kehner if they stay healthy they could be playing a long time this year. That’s a very good football team and we were fortunate to come out with a win.”
This week the Leopards head to Hot Springs to face the Lake Hamilton Wolves (1-0) of the class 6A. Plumlee knows that the Leopards face an uphill challenge going against the higher classification Wolves, but feels that the matchup is a great opportunity for the Leopards. “It’s a challenge but our guys aren’t backing down from it,” he said. “I talked to them about it on Monday and they kind of smiled. We’re excited about the opportunity and it’s an opportunity for us to go beat a 6A school.”
The Wolves took on Hot Springs Lakeside in their first game in week 0 and were off week 1. The Wolves had a total of 344 yards, all rushing, with four rushing touchdowns in their win against Lakeside, 31-17.
The Wolves line up offensively in a Wing-T formation and the Leopards will have to be able to line up against it this week. “We’ve worked really hard the last few days on not getting lost in our keys and our reads,” Plumlee said.
Plumlee knows that the key to stop the Wolves on offense is to stop the run. “We know they’re going to run it,” he said. He added that he feels the Wolves are about an 80 to 90 percent run team while being a 20 to 10 percent passing team. “I think they’ve thrown the ball three times this year. We know we have to stop the run and we also can’t fall asleep in the secondary.”
Offensively, Plumlee said that the Leopards aren’t going to get crazy on the game planning. “They give us a huge test because they’re huge up front but we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and just try to work at correcting mistakes we made last week.
The Leopards will remain balanced on both running and passing and will rely heavily on sophomore quarterback Ced Simmons. Simmons went 10 for 16 passing last week against Glen Rose with 120 passing yards and one passing touchdown. Simmons carried the ball 16 times for 25 yards and one rushing touchdown. “Ced has to be good for us, it starts with him,” Plumlee said. “I was super proud of him last week with his efficiency with him throwing the ball.”
Plumlee added that because of the Wolves size up front, the Leopards could be seen throwing the ball more on Friday. “We do feel like going into Lake Hamilton that we’ll have to throw the ball more just to get those big guys running sideline to sideline,” Plumlee added.
Overall, Plumlee knows that the Wolves will be hard to beat being a 6A school with more depth and size. “When you’re able to two platoon and you’ve got that depth it’s always huge in a game like this,” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity for us to go and do something that a lot of people don’t think we’re going to be able to do.”