The Blytheville Chickasaws will wear silver ribbons on their uniforms in support of Parkinson's Disease awareness. Blytheville head coach Vince McCrosky, who is currently at his home in Cabool, Mo. dealing with symptoms from the disease, will be out of this week's game against Little Rock Mills University Studies and will most likely be out for next week's 5A-East opener against Wynne.
"We're dealing with it day by day," said Blytheville athletic director David Hixson. "He had about three good days in a row and then took a turn for the worst. He's on new medication and it's just taking longer than they expected for him to adjust to it."
Hixson, who is keeping in contact with Coach McCrosky, said McCrosky is still giving input to the assistant coaches as much as he can.
"We addressed the kids yesterday at practice," said Hixson. "We just wanted to get things out in the open with them as to what is going on and just what this disease is. We told them that we have to just move forward. Coach Mac expects you to move forward and continue on. They had a great practice yesterday."
The Chicks will move on to face Little Rock Mills Friday night at Haley Field. Blytheville (1-1) broke a five-game losing streak dating back to last season and won their first game at Haley Field since beating Osceola last year on the opening night of the season.
"That was a real big win for us," said Blytheville assistant coach Ben Fisher. "It was in front of our families and friends. The kids were really pumped up about it."
Fisher said that the excitement didn't last too long as the coaches had to reenergize the squad about this week's opponent.
"We had to pump them back up this week," he said. "We have to get better."
An area that really needs improving is ball security. After committing four turnovers in their season opening loss to Osceola, the Chicks increased their turnover number last week to five against Okolona, Miss. -- much to the disappointment of the coaching staff. Fisher said the team has worked on multiple drills this week to try to fix the fumbling problem.
"It comes down to holding on to the ball," said Fisher. "We've been preaching it all summer. Hold the ball with two hands when you're going into the line. Usually, when someone fumbles in practice, they have to do three 'up-downs,' now they have to do 10."
Another area that Fisher said the team is working on is penalties. The Chicks collected 16 penalties last week for 140 yards.
"That's all about discipline," he said. "Watching the ball instead of listening to the quarterback. Knowing what your job is. It's nothing new. We preach it all the time. We just have to get better."
Mills is coming in with a 2-0 record with wins over two 7A/6A schools, Parkview and Little Rock Hall.
"They're a big team," said Fisher. "They run the Double-Wing and and like to run option out of it. It's three yards and a cloud of dust. They're going to outweigh us. Those linemen do a good job of firing off the ball, staying low and driving with their feet."
Their offensive line size ranges from 255 pound to 300 pounds opening up space for quarterback Omar Avance. Avance is a three-year starter and likes to hold on to the ball and make his decisions as late as possible in the option set.
"He (Avance) runs the system well. He likes to hold on to the ball. Even when they dive the fullback, they'll hold on to the ball three or four yards and he'll pull it out and run with it. As soon as you try to tackle the fullback, the quarterback pulls it out and runs it for 20 yards."
Defensively, the Comets are big as well with defensive tackles listed at 295 and 300 pounds.
"We're going to have to keep the tempo up on offense and try to wear them down," said Fisher. "That's easier said than done but we've been conditioning our guys all season for games like this."
Fisher said that just because Mills is a big team doesn't mean their slow.
"They have plenty of speed," he said. "They've got speed in the backfield and on defense, their defensive ends are very athletic and can get up field in a hurry."
As for the Chicks, the staring lineup remains intact. Quarterback Bailey Cason has thrown for over 100 yards in each of the first two games and running back DeMadre Clark rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns last week. Friday night's game begins at 7 p.m.