As the hour-by-hour forecast became more foreboding on Friday, Billy Elmore couldn't keep from reminiscing to a year ago almost to the day.
Last year, the undefeated West Memphis Blue Devils faced an undermanned Jacksonville team on the road in a driving rain that Elmore himself admitted it was the "worst conditions" he'd ever seen for a football game.
His Blue Devils barely escaped, needing a field goal in overtime from Colin Clark to get a 3-0 win.
This time the rain wasn't nearly as bad and the playing surface went from natural grass to artificial and in the end there was just no need to worry.
It took the Blue Devils nearly 12 minutes to get going on offense, but when they did get going it was too much for Jacksonville as West Memphis easily dispatched the Titans 38-6 in a mercy-rule win at Hamilton-Shultz Field.
"I kept thinking all day about that game last year in Jacksonville because the conditions were just so bad," said Elmore. "This time at least we talked about how we'd be on the turf. And honestly, the conditions weren't nearly as bad as they were last year in Jacksonville. I don't think it affected the game all that much."
Playing in brand new all-gray uniforms with Forks Up on the back of the jerseys, the Blue Devils showed a renewed sense of urgency and energy.
After two offensive series that resulted in very little, the Blue Devils finally got on the scoreboard with a 38-yard touchdown by junior Elijah Eulls with 1:12 left in the first quarter.
From there, the Blue Devil offense was more forceful than the weather conditions.
By halftime, the team had run up a 31-0 lead and it seemed a foregone conclusion that a mercy rule was in the works.
It all started with a touchdown from Eulls, a hidden commodity until a week earlier when he got several touches on offense against Jonesboro. On Friday night against Jacksonville Eulls had a breakout.
"He's a kid who's lived here but he hadn't attended our school," Elmore said of Eulls. "He's here now, and it took him a little while, but I think he's catching on to what we're doing. You can see he's very quick and elusive."
This was the kind of night it was for Jacksonville.
After Eulls' TD, the Titans were flagged for offsides on the PAT as Clark was lined up to kick. Elmore then called for a two-point conversion, which was easy pickings.
8-0 Blue Devils.
After figuring the weather would slow down the offensive numbers for both sides, the Titans followed Elmore's lead in the first quarter by going for it on fourth down.
It didn't hurt Jacksonville the first two times.
The third opened the flood gates.
Titan quarterback Deorius Cobbs was sacked for a two-yard loss on fourth down from the Jacksonville 36 and the Blue Devils took over from there. On the very first play, with the Titan safeties playing very shallow, Blue Devil quarterback Owens McConnell took advantage and connected with a wide open Dennis Dallas for a 36-yard touchdown pass just 20 seconds into the second quarter.
"Dennis streaked wide open and we really thought all week that if we had time to throw that, it would be tough for (Jacksonville) to cover it," said Elmore. "They lined up defensively the way we thought they would."
If that wasn't bad enough for Jacksonville, Cobbs watched a snap soar over his head into the end zone for a safety and a 17-0 West Memphis cushion.
The Blue Devils then had to go only 41 yards for their next TD, which came on the leg strength of Cedric Loving for the first of his three touchdowns on the night.
Just two minutes later, Loving scored his second touchdown and Jacksonville was buried in its own misery.
West Memphis (4-4 overall, 3-2 in the 6A-East Conference) is now in a three-way for third place in league standings with Marion and Sylvan Hills. Jonesboro has now taken over first place after taking down Searcy. The Hurricane and the Lions are tied atop the standings with 4-1 records, but JHS has the tie-breaker over Searcy.