Editor’s note: The state semifinals have been pushed back until Dec. 13 because of inclement weather that is schedule to hit Arkansas on Friday.
For the Carlisle Bison to have a chance to play in their sixth state championship game, they must first beat the defending state champion and the best program of recent history in Class 2A.
Weather permitting, the Bison (12-1) will play the Junction City Dragons at El Dorado High School in the Class 2A state semifinals Friday night.
The game was moved from Junction City to El Dorado’s Memorial Stadium, which has a turf playing surface.
The Dragons (11-0) advanced to the semifinals with a 51-7 win over Hector last week. Carlisle last played Junction City in the state semifinals in 2008, losing 29-7 to the Dragons, which beat Des Arc in the state championship game.
Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree said his team will continue to play the way it has all season when they play the Dragons.
"We’re going to take it a play at a time and understand that nobody is unbeatable," he said. "There is no team that is unbeatable and there is not a team that you can’t play with. Our kids believe that. We’ve just got to do things right and take care of what we can take care of. They have some tremendous individual players and they are a tremendous football team. They are physical and they are fast."
Barbaree said his team controls its own destiny.
"I believe if our kids do what they are supposed to do, it will all take care of itself," he said. "This is what you play for and this is what you practice all these weeks. This is a team we knew we’d have to play eventually. We’re just going to play that next team in front of us. It’s one of those weeks where you smile. These are the games that you want to play. We want to keep playing until they tell us we can’t anymore.
"Hopefully, everything works out in our favor."
Des Arc and Bearden play in the other semifinal game. Des Arc and Carlisle are both in the 2A-6 while Bearden and Junction City are both in the 2A-8.
"I think we have a good conference with good coaches and good players," Barbaree said. "We always want to be a state champion. We’ll take it one game at a time and hopefully, we will be able to come away with it."