After electing to forego playing in Week Zero to open the 2019 season, the Glen Rose Beavers will kick off their new year with a trip to Malvern on Friday, taking on their cross-county rival under the lights of Leopard Stadium.
Glen Rose narrowly escaped with a win a season ago in Week 1, defeating Malvern 12-9. The Leopards would end up 0-10 on the year.
“We struggled in our scrimmage last week, especially defensively,” said Head Coach Mark Kehner. “We gave up a lot of points to Hot Springs. Now they had a lot to do with that. We have had a lot of work to do the first week to try and get ready for Malvern.
“They have a really good quarterback who is athletic and that we are going to have to do a really good job of stopping. He can take it to the house on any given play. Hopefully, we have cleaned our act up a little bit and we are looking forward to it. This is a big game again.”
Kehner said his offense began to turn things on in the second quarter against Hot Springs with Wesley Launius in as a first-year quarterback.
“He is doing a good job of learning it,” Kehner said. “But you can’t get experience until you get under the lights. We will have some growing pains as the game starts and gets going. But hopefully, they all kind of settle in, get comfortable and start to get things going.”
For the past several years, Glen Rose has relied on Jay’Shawn Cox to handle the brunt of the rushing load, but losing him to graduation in May has brought more questions than answers for the Beavers’ backfield. It is unclear who will emerge as the main rushing threat heading into Week 1.
For Malvern, sophomore quarterback Carter Martin could prove dangerous against the Beavers, lining under center and at wide receiver in some packages. The Leopards will also use junior quarterback Braxton Allen under center. The junior totaled nearly 900 yards for the team last season.
Senior back Antonio Dickens returns with his great speed, especially when he is able to get into the open field against defensive backs.
Defensively, the Leopards are hoping to be much-improved over last season when they allowed an average of 43 points per game.
As for the large crowd that is anticipated, Kehner said he hopes his team takes in the moment.”
“I hope our kids are looking forward to something like that,” he said. “(Malvern) has a new coach over there and new enthusiasm. That should draw a lot of Malvern people. Glen Rose is just going to show up whether we are home or away. We expect nothing less than that out of our people. We are looking forward to an atmosphere. It is a big game for Malvern and Glen Rose.”
Kickoff is expected at 7 p.m.