Any football coach worth his whistle will insist the schedule is played one — and only one — game at a time.
While he cannot do much about it when it comes to fans, coaches will also demand his players refrain from looking past the Friday of the week in question.
Still, they are human. Booneville head coach Scott Hyatt was led into a thinking ahead moment on Oct. 17.
A question was posed to Hyatt as he watched the Booneville seventh grade Bearcats warm up in preparation of handing Mena a beat-down. Specifically, the question was about an opponent that was three weeks away.
How good is Maumelle? The question wasn’t meant to coerce Hyatt into anything nefarious, it was just that in the then several weeks of scouting conference opponents, Maumelle had to have shown up on video. The Hornets had, and Hyatt’s answer was, to paraphrase, athletic to the point they were scary good.
Through the exchange that ensued – which, again, wasn’t exactly an interview – Hyatt also said something that was prophetic – not to be confused with guaranteed.
If the Bearcat defense could continue to defend the pass as well as it had to that point in the season, and if the team could continue to keep everyone healthy, this could be a year to make a run at a state championship.
Two months later Hyatt was surrounded by sports journalists on a soggy War Memorial Stadium turf after the Bearcats held Warren’s Drake Jones to 13-of-32 passing.
Jones threw for 174 yards but the Bearcats had also sacked him twice and picked him off twice as well – with the second of both categories of defensive highlights coming on the last two plays of a 14-12 win over the Lumberjacks to finish a 15-0 season.
“Booneville’s got the reputation of not being able to defend the pass,” Hyatt said. “We’ve worked really hard on that this year and, of course, we had most of our secondary back from last year.”
That secondary includes Berry, who picked off both passes and finished the year with eight interceptions, including one he returned 91 yards for a touchdown against Mena – the night after Hyatt took the rare look ahead.