Bentonville High falls short
Tigers’ try at perfect day ends on last-second play.
SPRINGDALE — Several seconds after the final horn sounded, Kam’ron MaysHunt timed his leap perfectly.
The Bentonville High senior elevated high above a pair of defenders at the goal line and was able to get the finger tips from his outstretched right arm on the ball. He tipped it to teammate Jayden Loudermilk, but two more defenders were
there to slap the ball from his grasp.
The play that began with one second remaining in regulation ended with the ball falling to the field turf at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium. It ended the Tigers’
attempt at a perfect run through pool play at the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase on Friday.
The Tigers finished 7-1 on Friday to receive a first-round bye as the No. 5 overall seed in today’s bracket play and will play at 10:30 a.m. All of today’s games will be played on Shiloh Christina’s campus with the championship game scheduled for 5 p.m. at Champions Stadium.
“We had one second left and took a shot,” said Bentonville coach Jody Grant. “We almost completed it there, but didn’t. It was still fun. Two good football teams going at it. That’s what this is all about.”
Mays-Hunt was the Tigers’ offensive catalyst throughout the day, and especially during the 37-30 loss against Aurora (Ill.) Christian, which finished runner- up in this two- day event a year ago. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville baseball commitment caught all five of Bentonville’s touchdown passes from Nathan Lyons during the game. He caught a seven-yard touchdown reception over the middle and added a two-point conversion catch to even the score at 30-30 with 25 seconds remaining in regulation.
It was Mays-Hunt’s shortest touchdown of the game as he sprinkled in a 10-yarder with three 40-yard touchdown grabs. Two came on the first play of a possession as Mays-Hunt out sprinted the entire Eagles’ secondary each time the Tigers’ needed a momentum-swinging play.
“Obviously, Kam’ron Mays-Hunt is one of the best players in the state,” Grant said. “When we need a play, he’s our guy. To me and our staff, we know there’s not many people who can cover him and that’s been proven here today.”
Bentonville drew arguably one of the toughest pools of the three-pool, 27-team tournament that features teams from six states. Prior to the loss, the Tigers slipped by Fort Branch ( Ind.) Gibson Southern 24-22 and later outgunned previously unbeaten Owasso ( Okla.) High 31-19 and Ohio State verbal pledge Joshua Proctor, a four-star safety who also shined at receiver in the tourney.
“When I saw who was in this pool, I was excited,” Grant said. “You want to play the good ones in pool play, just to see where you’re at. If you’re having success against tough teams in pool play, then you feel like you can have success in the bracket play.”
Fayetteville is the only
other Northwest Arkansas team to earn a first- round bye in bracket play. The Purple’Dogs finished 6-1-1 to earn the No. 3 overall seed. They lost 22-18 to No. 2 seed Little Rock Christian and tied top-seeded Broken Arrow 1818. Other byes were received by second- seeded and defending champion Bixby (Okla.) High and fourth-seeded Aurora Christian.
Host Shiloh Christian had a solid opening day by finishing 6-2 despite the absence of projected starting quarterback Landon Brown, who was playing in a baseball tournament. Sophomore Eli Reece, the brother of former Saints quarterback Connor Reece, led the offensive charge while junior safety Micah Button triggered the defense. The seventh-seeded Saints open bracket play against No. 26 Gentry at 9 a.m. today.
“He did a great job even though he’s new to high school football,” said Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway. “I’m very excited about our improvement on both sides of the football. I felt like today was a day that we were really challenged against some teams that really forced us to get uncomfortable, but as the day went on, our guys really responded well, kept their energy and finished the day strong.”
Kam’Ron Mays-Hunt of Bentonville High catches a pass Friday against Aurora Christian during the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium in Springdale.
Springdale High quarterback Layne Hutchins throws to a receiver Friday during the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Springdale.