What season is it? Duck season? No. Rabbit season? No. It’s football season.
The Durant Lions will put on their pads, strap on their helmets and hit the battlefield for its season-opener Friday night against the Ashdown Panthers.
If you’ve never heard of the Panthers, that’s because Ashdown is in Arkansas. Durant had Poteau on the schedule as its opening-day opponent. However, Poteau was invited to play in a Kick-Off Classic in Arkansas. As part of the agreement, another team was found as a replacement and Durant was awarded an extra home game.
Now, let’s talk some football and get a profile on the Panthers.
Ashdown may be a bit of a mystery to Lion fans. But Durant’s head coach Byron Cordell put in the time in the film room and found that this team is “going to be a challenge.”
“Ashdown is very talented and very athletic team,” said Cordell. “They won nine games last year and were picked 11th in the preseason in their class in Arkansas. They’re a well-coached team.”
One of the challenges Durant will face is the speed the Panthers put on the field and a quarterback the Lion’s defense will have to try to contain.
“One of their strengths is their speed,” said Cordell. “The quarterback is a junior and being looked at by Auburn (University). We’ve got to control their speed. They’ll make plays, but we’ve got to limit the plays they make. We’ve got to make tackles and our guys have got to do their job.”
The Panther defense has speed too.
“They have a good defensive end, really good linebackers and a really good secondary,” said Cordell.
The idea is to neutralize Ashdown’s speed with the running game.
“We’ve got to run the football, control the clock, control the game and not turn the ball over,” said Cordell. “Those are the keys to victory. We just have to do it to be successful.”
Durant heads into the season with a question mark at quarterback after the graduation of Zac Cater. Maybe there is an answer — quarterback by committee. But Cordell is holding his cards close to the vest.
“It’s still up in the air. We are still playing several different kids at quarterback. I guess we’ll know Friday night.”
Kick-off time is 7:30 p.m. at Paul Laird Field.
Randy Bruce can be reached ay (580) 634-2161 or on Twitter @SportsBruce.