Pirates play THS in pivotal league game
A potential conference champion could be decided this coming Friday, when the Gosnell Pirates travel to Trumann and face the undefeated Wildcats.
3-4A heavyweights Gosnell (2-3) and Trumann (5-0) are currently tied for first in the league standings with 2-0 conference records.
Gosnell head coach Brandon Barbaree is a former Trumann assistant coach under Scott Waymire, who is in his fifth year at THS.
In conference play, the Pirates have soundly defeated both the Brookland Bearcats and the Cave City Caveman by a total of 81-0. However, the Wildcats are heavily talented and are very accustomed to winning, according to Barbaree.
“This is the most athletic Trumann team has had probably in 20 years,” says Barbaree. “They’re an older team, all these guys that are seniors this year won a junior high conference championship and the eleventh graders won a junior high conference championship. So they are use to winning. This is the first group in several years at Trumann that they are use to winning. They walk on the field and they’re not defeated, they’re ready to compete and just tough-hard-nosed kids, lot of seniors.”
The Wildcats are led by senior running back Cade Gartman. Gartman took home all-state honors a year ago, after rushing for more than 1,600 yards. He has the ability to break tackles and get extra yardage.
“Cade’s special, there’s no doubt he’s special,” Barbaree says. “I don’t know if stop is the right word, but more like slow him down. Just us getting to the football, everybody’s getting there, everybody’s hitting him, everybody is trying to strip the ball and make a tackle and flying around. That’s the only way that last year — we weren’t able to stop him, but we were able to slow him down a little bit to where we could win the game. And that is one thing about our guys, we do fly around to the football, so if we can fly around to the football we will have a shot.”
Gartman’s classmate, Alex Moses, has helped out the Wildcats on defense with seven interceptions on the season.
“They got a playmaker in Alex Moses, he’s made a huge difference with their passing game and makes up a lot of ground for them, defensively,” says Barbaree.
In the 40-0 victory over the Caveman, Barbaree decided to hold senior starting quarterback Brandon Partee out to let sophomore backup quarterback Brett Barbaree get reps in a game in case he is ever needed. However, Partee will look to play against the Wildcats and Barbaree is expecting a big game out of Partee.
“No, I held Brandon out — just to be honest — to play our back-up quarterback some, because in the Brookland game I didn’t play Brett (Barbaree) any at quarterback,” Barbaree said. “So I started thinking, if something does happen, ‘Are you going to be prepared to play’, and so we made sure he got 50-60 something snaps at quarterback, and now I know he can handle that pressure of having the ball in his hands. Brandon is a playmaker for us, and is a senior playmaker, who does a lot of good things and is a leader of the football team for us.”
|Although the game has a lot riding on it, Barbaree says it could be the quickest game in the state with the two schools’ styles.|
|“Obviously you’ve got to make the most out of every possession, defensively and offensively,” says Barbaree. “ It’s probably going to be the shortest game in the state, both teams are running the ball at each other. Protecting that possession and protecting that ball. Every possession is going to be important, every yard is going to be important. When it’s all said and done it’s probably going to be biggest game of the year, because it is the next game. I think our kids understand that and so do their kids too. It’s going to be a big game and hopefully the energy will be high and the focus will be high.”|
Joseph Fondren will be at this game. For scores follow Joseph on Twitter @CN_JosephF.