2021 FFN Game of the Week Preview: Cross County at Harrisburg

Football Friday Night airs at 10:15pm on KAIT,, & on the Region 8 News app
Football Friday Night airs at 10:15pm on KAIT,, & on the Region 8 News app(Source: KAIT)
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 11:22 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 4:25 PM CDT
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HARRISBURG, Ark. (KAIT) - A longtime rivalry will be featured in week one of our FFN Game of the Week. Cross County will travel 15 miles down the road to take on Harrisburg.

“Our kids are looking forward to it just like their kids look forward to it and the town looks forward to it,” Harrisburg Head Coach Aaron Thornton said.

It will be the first time these two teams have faced off since 2019. The game was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.

It’s the first time the matchup will be at Jordan’s Stadium in a few years, as the game relocated to Jonesboro High School in 2019 due to a field project at Harrisburg.

Harrisburg (Last year: 5-4, 4-2 in 3A-3)

Head Coach Aaron Thornton says he’s been pleased with the way practice has been going so far, adding one of the biggest keys to the game is limiting explosive plays.

He says controlling the line of scrimmage will be one of the biggest keys for the Hornets and limiting the Thunderbirds’ speed.

“The biggest thing is physicality, and we’ve said that, we’ve preached that since day one since we got here but we’re not exactly where we want to be as far as the physicality that we’ve seen day in and day out,” Thornton said. “We’ve got to go into the game and we’ve got to be able to contain their big speed. They’re going to be faster than us at positions so we’ve got to make sure that we contain that and do a good job of limiting their explosive plays but we’ve got to be very physical up front so we can control the line of scrimmage.”

“The work has been crazy, coach has been on us but that’s good we need to get the work in and I think the preparation is going really good,” Junior lineman Raejwon Todd said. “I think the line is going to be really good this year. I think the secondary looks really good. Wide receivers know all the routes and everything, I think quarterbacks are really good.”

“The first week sometimes can go a little shaky but so far we’ve been really great just preparing for this rivalry,” Senior lineman Buck Ferrell said. “All the guys in the locker room and me we just know how special this week is we want to work extremely hard to win this game.

Cross County (Last year: 5-3, 2-2 3A-3)

Head Coach Cody Goulart and his staff spent hours Sunday afternoon putting a game plan together for Friday.

Goulart said he’s excited to play the Hornets after COVID canceled the game last year.

“Well, I’m excited this is actually going to be my first time to be here at Cross County, be as a head coach to actually play Harrisburg because last year was my first year here, but I’m excited,” Goulart said. “The town, everybody talks about it. The kids talk about it in the school, the kids from across the road talk about it so we know and I know how important it is for the community and this town to come out and be prepared, to be able to play, to be able to go four quarters and just have the opportunity to be successful at the end.”

“Got to have a lot of high intensity and get ready for the game,” Junior receiver and linebacker Joshua Shirley said. “It’s hype, but we got a lot of work to do.”

“I’m ready for it, it’s going to be a good one,” Senior A.J. Beale said. “I know there’s going to be a lot of fans there, it’s going to be a good one. They got a lot of guys, they got a lot of guys in shape, being in 2A we don’t have that many players so we’ve got to get in shape and just be able to fly around.”

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