BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Little Rock Mills has rolled over its first three high school football foes by a combined score of 134-56, but Comets head Cortez Lee knows there is an increased need for focus this weekend.
Mills (3-0) will face struggling Watson Chapel (0-3) Friday night, a game ahead of starting a conference run that includes White Hall, Pine Bluff and Joe T. Robinson.
Watson Chapel has won just one of its last 25 games dating back to 2021, albeit there have been some close games in that stretch.
“We are really excited and trying to make that push to become a well-rounded team and we are seeing some great things, leadership is going well, I think our players are bought into our system and we are just excited to see the growth continue,” Lee said.
“…We really just have to stay with our quote of ‘just going 1-0 each week’ and really not trying to look too far down the road because I think discipline goes both ways.
…I think this week is just about staying focused and making sure we don’t make any miss-steps and stay on the upward trend that we are on – playing solid football, guys leading one another and making big plays. Just ride that wave because we know it is going to be a challenging year because each opponent presents a different situational problem.
“This week we just want to stay consistent.”
Senior quarterback Achilles Ringo (6-3, 220) who threw for 3,869 yards and 30 touchdowns last season, is one of 5 offensive starters back from a team that averaged 36.4 points per game last season.
“He is a very special and exciting player,” Lee said. “He is very versatile and can do many different things. He is very exciting when he gets the ball in his hands, very explosive and I just continue to be a mismatch for people and make big-time plays.”
Arkansas defensive end commit Charleston Collins (6-5, 270), who had 124 tackles with 12 sacks among 46 tackles for lost yardage last season, heads up the defense along with Caleb Sain (6-3, 250) who had 84 stops in 2022.
“He (Collins) has played exceptionally well,” Lee said. “We have been moving him in to the 3 (defensive lineman) and at wide 9 (edge rusher) and he has been creating a matchup problem pretty much everywhere. He is a lot more dominant than he last year. I think he kind of understands that we need him to dominate defensively.”
The Comets’ defense, which retruned nine starters, has already forced a dozen turnovers in three games.
“We are scoring points on defense, which can be a catch 22 because it means we are going to be out there a lot,” Lee said. “But they have created 12 turnovers already in three games so we are just going to try and keep the intensity and make sure guys keep getting better at each position.”
Mills started 7-0 lasts season before finishing 10-2 with losses to Class 5A Central conference champ Joe T. Robinson (29-28) and Shiloh Christian (69-32) in the playoffs.
“I really enjoy that approach of pushing even harder after being one point away from a conference championship, a two-point conversion,” Lee said. “With that said, a good Robinson team beat us and congratulations to them.
“I think we have kind of set some goals and we still just want to go 1-0 every week, but in the back of the minds, we really want to take our program to another level, but we understand that you can’t miss any steps along the way. We have set our goals this year and we are going to try our best to reach them.”
Photo courtesy of Little Rock Mills