Minutes after West Ouachita defeated Northwood (Lena) 48-0, the dread set in for West Ouachita head coach Matt Middleton.
As quickly as he could, Middleton put on the tape of West Ouachita’s first district opponent to reaffirm his suspicions.
“Man, they’ve got some players,” Middleton said. “Look at the skill players. They can really move in space.”
Middleton knows (1-1) Ouachita is going to be a stiff test after the Lions racked up 365 yards on the ground against Bastrop. But Ouachita has a veteran quarterback in Zach Shaw, who right now is meticulously picking apart defenses.
“He’s a very good quarterback, and he’s playing extremely well right now. You can tell he’s a three-year starter,” Middleton said. “He’s got a bunch of weapons to disperse the ball to. We knew we would eventually come into a situation since we lost those two backs that we’d have to throw the football. Obviously, I’d be lying to you if I told you I didn’t want to shorten the game. But we’ve got to throw it too.”
West Ouachita’s passing game looked strong against Northwood Friday night, as Peanut Middleton completed 14-of-15 passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns. Brady Ryals, Kohl Nolan, Mike Hall and Bryce Rushing each caught touchdown passes in the victory. Nolan also rushed for 158 yards on 11 carries.
“I’m really excited about the way we’ve been playing,” Middleton said. “We played extremely well up front, and we had the classic Kohl Nolan performance. When we can throw the football like that, it opens up a lot of lanes.”
Last season, when (1-1) Ouachita and (2-1) West Ouachita crossed paths, the Chiefs trailed 14-10 at halftime before the Lions pulled away in a 41-17 victory.
Turnovers and speed on the perimeter contributed to Ouachita’s success in the second half, and Middleton understands his team has to play disciplined, keep-away football Friday night for the Chiefs to walk away victorious.
“Jeff (Fitzgerald) and those guys will be ready to go,” Middleton said. “They’ll try to force our hand on some things. It’ll take everything we have to play well. They’re a very good football team.”