Miners hope to defang Cobras for 1st time

Bauxite senior running back Dawson Dabbs runs in the open field against Harmony Grove last week. Dabbs rushed for 133 yards and a score on 16 carries in the win. GREG DAVIS/Special to The Saline Courier

The Bauxite Miners are off to one of the best starts in program history.
With a 35-18 victory over Harmony Grove (4-2, 2-1) in Week 6 — capturing its first Saline River Showdown title — Bauxite now sits at 6-0 overall and 3-0 in 7-4A action.
“I was proud of our kids,” said Head Coach Daryl Patton. “I thought they played hard and competed hard. It was a very physical ballgame. I thought Harmony Grove played really well as well. We turned it over a few more times than I’d have liked, but overall we played well and the offensive line did a really good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.”
On the night, Bauxite rushed for 340 yards and five touchdowns on 56 carries while following its line.
Senior quarterback Seth McDowell led all rushers with 30 carries and 159 yards, scoring four times in the win. The performance earned McDowell his second The Saline Courier Athlete of the Week honor.
Fellow senior back Dawson Dabbs followed with 16 carries and 133 yards, scoring once.
This week, however, the Miners play host to a team they have never beaten — Fountain Lake.
The Cobras (3-3, 0-3) own a 4-0 record over Bauxite, dating back to 2014, which includes a close 28-27 victory in 2017.
“Since I have been here we have not beaten Fountain Lake, but you could have said the same thing about Ashdown and Harmony Grove,” Patton said. “This is a very mature group of kids that we have. They are experienced and have been through the battles. I think we will handle it fine.”
Fountain Lake is coming off of a 44-0 loss against defending 4A champion Arkadelphia, which was the Badgers’ first victory this year.
Nonetheless, Patton is keying in on two main speedsters for the Cobras in Week 7.
“The (Ahman) Johnson kid can fly,” Patton said. “He has great speed and great hands. He is a big play just waiting to happen. We have to do a good job of controlling him and keeping everything in front of us. That is on special teams as well.”
Fountain Lake’s other senior back, Andrew Roberson, missed Week 6 and is questionable Friday with an unknown injury. However, Patton is preparing as if he will suit up in Week 7.
“You have to plan for him being their Friday night,” Patton said. “Last year, he rushed for over 200 yards against us. He is a very physical runner.”
Patton said he expects the Cobras’ defense to try and load the box Friday night.
“We have got to be able to throw the ball and run on the perimeter as well,” he said. “The main thing is don’t turn it over and finish off drives.”
Along with hosting the Cobras, Bauxite will also be celebrating homecoming.
“A lot of people (coaches) don’t like homecoming week, but I do,” Patton said. “I thought, last year, we handled homecoming well and won that ballgame against Mena. It is a chance for a lot of alumni and people to come back on campus that maybe have not been here in a while.
“With our success that we are having this year, I think we will have a great turnout. But the most important thing about homecoming is the game and that is what we have been trying to preach to our kids. We have had a great week of practice and our kids are focused.”
Homecoming festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. at The Pit, followed by kickoff at 7 p.m.
As for injures through six weeks, Patton said his team is mostly healthy, despite a few bangs and bruises.
“We are really good,” he said. “For Week 7, we have been healthy all year. (Lineman) Josh Sibert missed a little bit of the second half last week, but he returned to practice (Wednesday) so he should be fine.”
Patton added that Sibert likely will not start, but will be used as a rotation player.
“That is really the only major injury we have got,” Patton said.