Unheralded Defense At Booneville’s Disposal

Booneville has cruised to the 4A semifinals without much of a challenge.

The Bearcats have won all 13 games this season by at least 14 points, and much of that credit should go to the defense.

Booneville is allowing nine points a game in the postseason including a shutout of Lincoln in the quarterfinals.

“I thought going into the Pottsville game, I thought that was going to be a tough ball game and our defense shut them down and then shut Maumelle down the way they did,” Booneville coach Scott Hyatt said. “Then going into the playoffs, they’ve played well and probably second round of the playoffs when we beat Hamburg we were thinking our defense is not bad but of course we’ve got a big challenge this week. We’ll see how good we are this week.”

That challenge is Pine Bluff Dollarway. The Cardinals have yet to score fewer than 32 points this season and are also 13-0. Slowing down Dollarway will be a test but the Bearcats aren’t making the task too complicated.

“It’s going to take a big game from our offensive and defensive lines,” Booneville senior Tanner Elliot said. “They’re bigger than us and in a lot of cases they are faster than us.”

“We work as one unit,” Booneville senior Joseph Saldana said. “We can kind of read each other’s minds. Know what gap to be in and when to be there.”

Booneville’s starting defense hasn’t been tested in nearly three months. Another strong performance could put the Bearcats on the road to Little Rock.

“The kids are starting to believe,” Hyatt said. “You get into the playoffs and you have to go through a process, it’s a mental process. You get to a point where the kids start believing. That chemistry, everything comes together and you start playing good ball and good things happen.”