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Updated: December 8, 2017

Foreman earns home semifinal game after Earle forfeits; will host Salem

By Quinton Bagley

Little River News

Less than 24 hours before the Foreman Gators were scheduled to leave on a long bus trip to Earle to face the Bulldogs in one of the Class AA playoff semifinals, head coach Mark King received a phone call telling him that their had been a slight change in plans. The Gators would not be making the long trip after all and that they would be facing the Salem Greyhounds instead of the Earle Bulldogs in the Class AA semifinals a week later.

Earle had played an ineligible player throughout the season and self reported the wrong doing to the Arkansas Activities Association. Since they Bulldogs had used an ineligible player, they were forced to forfeit all regular season and playoff wins.

“We were notified around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon that Earle had to forfeit their season,” King said. “It wasn’t till Friday that we were notified that we would be playing Salem at home the next week.”

The Gators had spent all week preparing for the Bulldogs only to find out that there wouldn’t be a game on Friday night.

“I don’t feel that the week off had any affect on us either way,” King said. “The kids and coaches were disappointed that we didn’t get to play last week after having put all the preparation in for the Earle game. We told the kids and brought them in on Sunday and talked about this week and went from there.”

With the switch in opponents, the Gators received an unexpected gift – another home game. Since Salem is a No. 5 seed they will travel to play the higher-seeded Gators.

“It really means a lot to get to host a semifinal game at The Swamp,” King said. “Our kids seem to play a little harder at home. It is really big for our fans for us to play at home. I know that there were several fans that would not have been able to make that long trip to Earle so now they can make it to The Swamp for the game.”

Looking at Salem on paper, Friday’s contest looks like a cake walk for the Gators but King says the Greyhounds are much better than their record indicates.

“Salem is a very good football team and they have played their best football of the year in the playoffs,” King said. “They beat Hector in the first round at Hector who was a No. 1 seed. Then they traveled to Palestine-Wheatley and beat them, a No. 3 seed, and then traveled to Earle and played them tough for three quarters before losing 50-31. They will be very excited to be back in the playoffs, with a chance to move on to the state finals next week.”

According to King, the Greyhounds like to run the ball and use the run to set up the pass.

“Offensively they base out of the I formation and have a very good tailback,” King said. “They like to run the ball and throw play action passes. They will give you several different bunch sets and like to run the sweep and counters out of them.”

King said Salem would use a lot of different looks on defense to try and keep the high-powered Gators offense off guard.

“On defense they will give you several different looks, from a 4-3, a split 4 and a 5-2 and they do a good job of changing their coverages,” King said. “They like to stunt their linebackers and do twist stunts with their defensive line.”

King said that the Gators can not be overconfident when they take the field Friday night. He said they just need to come out and play Gator football.

“We will need to play a very good game to get a win Friday and advance to the state finals next week in Little Rock,” King said.

Kickoff for Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at The Swamp in Foreman.