Alma’s defense came up big last week and denied Lake Hamilton two opportunities to score on a fourth-and-inches from the Airedale 1.
This week, Alma faces an 8-2 team and the 6A East Conference champions as the Airedales travel to Jonesboro for the Class 6A semifinals.
The Golden Hurricanes average 40.8 points per game this season with losses to North Little Rock (6-5) and Conway (10-0).
"Jonesboro will be a really big test for us this week. (The Hurricanes) do a great job and are very well coached," said coach Doug Loughridge. "Jonesboro have really good skill athletes and have been successful over the last several years."
Jonesboro entered Week 9 averaging 477 yards per game. Senior quarterback Carson Coats completed 135 of 212 passes for 1,759 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. During Week 7, Coats completed 16 of 17 passes for 242 yards and four touchdowns as the Golden Hurricanes defeated West Memphis 42-0.
Lamar Haynes has 605 yards receiving and four touchdowns and Ke’dren Brunson has hauled in 515 yards and seven scores. Jonesboro sports a four back rotation with Darren Veasley, Deavion Binion, Brian Mitchell and Kylon Tate with 2,138 yards on the ground between the quartet.
Linebacker Aaron Fitts leads the defense.
During Week 5, Jonesboro rallied from a 28-17 deficit in the third quarter to beat Little Rock Central 40-28. The Hurricanes finished with 520 yards.
Jonesboro began their conference season by defeating Mountain Home 59-0.
Alma scored once on offense with a pass from Evan Burris to Heath Friddle with 1:35 remaining in the first quarter. Curtis Lloyd added another score as he added a 11-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Alma’s defense gave up 243 yards of offense and 12 first downs, but limited Lake Hamilton to just one touchdown. Lloyd also paces the defense with 150 tackles this season after gaining 12 against Lake Hamilton. Jake Marrs added eight stops and had 102 for the season and Heath Friddle made nine stops.
"Our philosophy in this program is to play great defense and be physical," Loughridge said. "We must do that this week and get our offense the ball in good field position. When we have the ball we must keep it and put together drives to be successful."
Alma’s offense struggled at times against Lake Hamilton and was limited to 10 first downs and 206 yards of offense.
Noah Dotson had eight carries for 53 yards and Alex Beneux paced the team with 12 totes for 56 yards. Evan Burris completed 6 of 15 passes for 81 yards. Friddle caught three passes for 49 yards.
The team hits the road for the seventh time this season and is 4-3 in those contests with losses to Conway, Bryant (9-1-1), and Greenwood (7-3).
"This is another long road trip for us this week, but our kids are up for it," said the Alma coach. "We know how to travel pretty well by now and our kids do a great job making it a business trip-like attitude.
"Our crew will be ready and they are excited to be playing in the quarterfinals. There are only eight teams left and a win this week puts us playing on Thanksgiving. That‘s always big for our program."