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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Charleston Travels to Ozark After Open Date

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It has been ten days since Charleston played at Dardanelle. That night, the injuries were mounting, and when the game was over, the Tigers were left to look forward to an open date in the schedule to get their players back. The good news is that Charleston will get some of their players back this week when they travel to Ozark to play the Hillbillies. The not-so-good news is that the Tigers will still not be at full strength. Not all of Charleston’s players will be back in time for the game at Ozark. The goal continues to be to have these players back in time for the conference opener against Greenland when the Tigers play their first home game on September 27.

Charleston coach Ricky May is encouraged by the improving health of his team. “You hate to see anyone get hurt. They (the players) are getting to play their dream, and for them to get hurt is awful.” Coach May indicated that some of the Charleston players will be back this week, and a few more may be ready depending on their progress this week.

Ozark entered last week ranked fourth in Arkansas in 4A by Max Preps. After a close 15-12 loss to Clarksville, the Hillbillies have dropped to fifth. Nevertheless, Ozark will be ready to avenge last week’s loss before they too enter conference play on September 27 at Mena.

“Ozark is big up front. They have three guys over 300 lbs. Their running back, Woolsey (Daniel Woolsey) is phenomenal. He’s a really good running back. Their quarterback, Faulkenberry (Harper Faulkenberry), he’s a really good runner. And of course, they have Bryant Burns.”

Ozark will be led by its all-everything tight end, Bryant Burns. Burns is listed by Max Preps as the top returning tight end in Arkansas and was named to their Preseason All-State Football Team. At 6-3, 228 lbs., Burns is a formidable target. Last season, Burns caught 27 passes for 637 yards and seven touchdowns. Burns has verbally committed to Army for next year.

In two games this season, the Ozark offense has completed 11 of 20 pass attempts for 169 yards. They average 15.4 yards per completion. Per game, the Hillbillies average 84.5 yards passing. They have passed for two touchdowns, and their longest completion was 42 yards. Rushing, Ozark has ran for 465 yards in two games. They average 5.2 yards per carry, and 232.2 yards per game. Their longest run from scrimmage has been 36 yards. They have rushed for four touchdowns.

Ozark has had 11 receptions for 169 receiving yards. They average 15.4 yards per catch. They have two receiving touchdowns. Total offense for this season, the Hillbillies have 634 yards, or 355.5 yards per game.

On defense, Ozark has 96 solo tackles per game, and 140 total tackles. Six of those have been for lost yardage. They have produced 9 sack yards lost and have had two sacks for the season. Ozark has one interception and it was returned for one yard. The defense has been opportunistic in producing four fumble recoveries for 36 yards. The Ozark defense forced two fumbles in their first two games.

On special teams, the Hillbillies kicked off eight times for 325 yards. Their longest kickoff was 56 yards. They returned three punts for 25 yards. The longest return was 13 yards. They are 2 / 4 in point after touchdown attempts.

After the loss to Dardanelle, it was unseen as to how the Tigers would react going into the open date on the schedule. “I was afraid the week off after a loss would be a bad thing. But I really think it was a good thing, physically, and for the mental side, too. We got to get back and do some basic things. Got to not hit so much, try to recover a little bit. So, from that stand point, I think it was good for us. Obviously, it would have been better for us if we had won that Dardanelle game and have that week to have that going in, but at the same time, I believe the kids have bought in to, we want to win every game, but at the same time we realize that there are three seasons, and that conference is about to start and we want to be as healthy as we can going into that.”

Charleston’s non-conference schedule this year has been as tough as anyone’s. It doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers as they go to Ozark to face one of the top five 4A schools on the road. I expect Charleston to play hard and with pride. The Tigers need your support Friday night.

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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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