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Monday, February 26, 2024

Charleston Prepares for Conference Home Opener Versus Greenland


The week is here. At long last, the Charleston Tigers will play a home game this Friday when the Greenland Pirates visit for homecoming. Charleston has yet to play a home game after playing its first three games on the road and having an open date on the schedule. This is the conference opener for both schools. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, September 27 in Charleston.

Greenland (2-1, 0-0) is ranked 16th in Arkansas in class 3A by Max Preps. The Charleston Tigers enter the game ranked 25th in class 3A. Greenland has victories over Elkins and Mountainburg. Its only loss of the season was a 34-27 home loss versus class 4A Gentry. Charleston (0-3, 0-0) has consecutive road losses at Melbourne, Dardanelle, and Ozark.

After assessing the game video from Friday night’s game at Ozark, Charleston coach Ricky May and his staff have begun preparing the Tigers for the big homecoming game this Friday night. “The players and their parents (Tigers) are really encouraged. They feel like we played hard. We’re just going to get better as we get our kids back. We got out of the game clean (without serious injuries). Had a boy get a pretty good contusion on his elbow, but it’s something, if we have to, can pad it up and he can go Friday night. Other than that, everybody was good. Our defensive line played really well, especially Slade Skeets. He played really well; got after it on both sides of the ball. Our offensive line blocked well. So, we hope to keep that going. We are focusing this week on stopping the busted plays in the secondary and finishing drives on offense.”

Coach May was complimentary of the Greenland offense. “Greenland has two good receivers, two receivers that have caught most of their balls. Gobel is probably their best one, and the Bryant kid is their speedster. He’s pretty good.”

On offense, the Pirates have produced 1,410 yards of total offense in their first three games. Passing, Greenland’s outstanding junior quarterback, Gabe Wilson, has 42 completions on 66 attempts, and has passed for 487 total yards. Their passing completion percentage is 64%. The Pirates average 11.6 yards per completion, and have averaged 162.3 yards passing per game. Wilson has thrown for 5 touchdowns and has been intercepted twice. The Pirates leading receiver is senior Carter Gobel. Gobel has 17 receptions for 189 yards, and one touchdown catch. He averages 11.1 yards per reception. The combination of Wilson to Gobel has been a big part of the Greenland offense.

Rushing, Greenland has ran the ball 123 times for a total of 923 yards. The Pirates rushing attack is led by junior running back Jett Dennis who has carried 24 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Greenland averages 7.5 yards per carry, and 307.7 yards per game. The Pirates have 11 rushing touchdowns. They have fumbled the ball once, and lost the ball on that fumble. The Greenland rushing attack gives the Pirates a balanced offense with their passing game.

As a team, the Greenland defense has 94 solo tackles, 89 assists, and 183 total team tackles. They average 61 tackles per game. The Pirates have six sacks and have averaged 2.0 sacks per game. On pass defense, Greenland has two interceptions in three games. The leading tackler for the Pirates is senior Luis Santillano. Santillano has 14 solo tackles, 3 assists, and 17 total tackles in the first three games of this season.

Greenland special teams have 5 kickoff returns for 96 yards, or, 19.2 yards averaged per return. On point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempts, the Pirates are 9 / 13.

The Greenland offense has 16 touchdowns, 96 touchdown points, and 9 kicking points. The Pirates have averaged 35 points per game.

For Charleston, this is an extremely important game that will go a long way in determining the playoff picture for this season. A win this week will propel Charleston to 1-0 in conference and would give the Tigers a one game lead in conference over Greenland who could also make the playoffs. More importantly, it is a very important game with respect to the huge games that await the Tigers versus Booneville, Mansfield, Lamar, Cedarville, and others on the Charleston schedule. A loss Friday night would put the Tigers in a near desperate situation in which each subsequent game becomes more and more important. In short, a loss Friday night would significantly increase the pressure on Charleston to win some very big games in its remaining six games on the schedule to have a chance at making the playoffs. “For us it is to get on the winning track a little bit, too. With it being homecoming it would be a good win for us because Greenland is pretty good. After Friday, there will only be four of us that will be 1-0 in conference (conference teams).”

Football is a game of momentum, and a Tigers win versus a very good Greenland Pirates team would erase the bad memories of the early portion of the schedule and would get the ball rolling in the Tigers direction. Looking ahead, the Tigers need to be 1-0 after Friday night before they go on the road next week to play a tough Cedarville team in the second week of conference play.

It is the first home game of the season, it’s homecoming, and it is the first conference game of the year. It doesn’t get any bigger than this at this point in the season. Coach May is proud of his team’s effort and he expects it to continue Friday night. “It’s homecoming and we hope to make everyone proud. Come out (Charleston fans) and watch our kids play their butts off.”

So, Charleston fans, come out and fill the stands and be loud and supportive of your Charleston Tigers! It is a big game!

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Jim Best
Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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