Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

hot for Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville’s first snap of 7-on-7 foot­ball this sum­mer couldn’t have been scripted bet­ter.

The sec­ond play from scrim­mage was more of the same.

Quar­ter­back Dar­ius Bow­ers, tak­ing over as leader of the Pur­ple’Dogs of­fense un­der new coach Billy Daw­son, led Fayetteville to two touch­downs on its open­ing two plays.

“Yeah, it was a good start. I don’t know how that hap­pened,” Daw­son said grinning. “We’ll take it. We had two plays, two touch­downs. That was nice.”

Bow­ers hit Kris Mulinga and Cody Gray in stride, each open over the mid­dle of the field, cat­a­pult­ing Fayetteville to a tour­na­ment-open­ing 24-21 win against Ben­tonville West. Daw­son likes what he’s seen from Bow­ers, who’s fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the state’s ca­reer pass­ing touch­down leader, Tay­lor Powell, who is now at Mis­souri.

“He’s had a good spring,” Daw­son said of Bow­ers. “He’s fig­ur­ing out what we’re try­ing to do. He’s go­ing to be a good player, and he got his feet wet a lit­tle last year.

“We’re re­ally young (at re­ceiver). Other than (Mulinga and Gray) we’re brand new,” Daw­son said. “Ev­ery­thing you’re see­ing is brand new.”

Fayetteville fin­ished pool play on Fri­day with a 6-1-1 record.

Jack­son shin­ing for Ben­tonville West

Wolver­ines coach Bryan Pratt has led a num­ber of tal­ented play­ers in his coach­ing ca­reer, some who have panned out at the high­est level. And he has no reser­va­tions say­ing Jadon Jack­son could be his next su­per­star.

Jack­son scored two touch­downs in West’s 46-12 thump­ing of Gilt­ner, Neb., at Har­mon Field, wow­ing team­mates as well as op­pos­ing play­ers with quick­ness and ath­leti­cism.

“I coached in Texas at South Grand Prairie in the tough­est dis­trict down there and had tons of guys that went and played in col­lege and the NFL, and he’s as good as any of them,” Pratt said. “His burst is un­real. The thing on him is he’s pretty smart. He knows where every­body is sup­posed to go and un­der­stands the whole scheme.”

Jack­son moved to North­west Arkansas from York, Penn., two years ago to es­cape the vi­o­lence sur­round­ing him. Since ar­riv­ing, he’s burst onto the scene and made a name for him­self in the Nat­u­ral State.

“I just came to get away from that,” Jack­son said. “Peo­ple I know were get­ting ar­rested and do­ing things they shouldn’t be do­ing. … (To­day) was re­ally fun. We’re just go­ing out and hav­ing fun and play­ing as a team.”

Pratt says the ris­ing ju­nior will visit Alabama on Sun­day.

“He’s start­ing to un­der­stand tak­ing some of these trips to some of these places and see­ing the fa­cil­i­ties that he’s got a chance to change his life if he does what he’s sup­posed to,” Pratt said. “It’s been fun watch­ing him grow.”

Wise pro­vides play­mak­ing in Spring­dale sec­ondary

Op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs couldn’t get Kapone. Kapone got the op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs, though … three times.

Ris­ing se­nior de­fen­sive back Kapone Wise stood out for Spring­dale High in the af­ter­noon ses­sion at Jar­rell Wil­liams Bull­dog Sta­dium. Wise be­gan his af­ter­noon by in­ter­cept­ing Rogers Her­itage’s Trey Kit­ter­man, spark­ing a 41-12 rout of the War Ea­gles. He then fol­lowed it up by pick­ing off a pass against Owasso, Okla., and Gib­son (Ind.) South­ern in con­sec­u­tive games.

“He’s re­ally con­fi­dent and play­ing re­ally con­fi­dent,” Spring­dale coach Zak Clark said. “He’s got­ten a lot bet­ter; he’s go­ing to be the guy (in the sec­ondary).

“I’m happy with him right now. His hands have got­ten bet­ter, and he’s got­ten so much bet­ter just with his dis­ci­pline and his eyes. He’s way more con­sis­tent than he has been, and he com­petes re­ally hard.”

Clark be­lieves Wise has a chance to be a play­maker in the Red’Dogs’ de­fen­sive back­field this fall. Af­ter an up-and-down morn­ing ses­sion Fri­day, Wise’s play pro­vided Spring­dale a boost through­out the af­ter­noon.

“It gave us some­thing, like, ‘Yeah, we’ve got faith, keep push­ing,’” Wise said. “It gave (the of­fense) an­other chance to drive the ball and just go. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do, though.”

Alma nearly comes back against Gib­son South­ern

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind 16- 0 to Gib­son South­ern early in the af­ter­noon ses­sion at Spring­dale High, coach Doug Loughridge’s Airedales nearly se­cured the come­back of the day.

Alma, who re­turns only one of­fen­sive starter from 2016, knot­ted the score at 23, then again at 29 with less than five sec­onds to play. In­side the 5-yard line, need­ing one fi­nal score to win, an Alma re­ceiver was up­ended by a de­fender in the end zone, but drew no penalty flag. The game ended in a 29-29 tie.

An­other good turnout

Shiloh Chris­tian ath­letic di­rec­tor and foot­ball coach Jeff Con­away said the tour­na­ment con­tin­ues to thrive, thanks to the ef­forts of vol­un­teers and spon­sors that make host­ing the event pos­si­ble.

“The com­pe­ti­tion is great,” Con­away said Fri­day af­ter­noon in Cham­pi­ons Sta­dium. “The play­ers are en­joy­ing it, the coaches seem to be en­joy­ing most of it and we’re hav­ing a good time.”

Con­away said or­ga­ni­za­tion and a team of sup­port­ers are the key to host­ing a tour­na­ment this large ev­ery year.

“With­out them there would not be a great tour­na­ment,” he said. “The hos­pi­tal­ity we have here, the food we get to eat, the drinks … all the stuff you take for granted is what makes this tour­na­ment so spe­cial.”

Loyd likes what he sees

Rogers High will have a num­ber of fresh­faced sopho­mores step­ping into the Fri­day night spot­light this fall, in­clud­ing coach Mike Loyd’s son, Hunter. Hunter Loyd was di­rect­ing the Moun­ties’ at­tack on Fri­day at quar­ter­back.

“We’re get­ting bet­ter and that’s what we came out here to do,” Mike Loyd said. “We’re a young team. We have a jayvee team play­ing and our var­sity has a bunch of sopho­mores out here as well, so we’re just try­ing to get good, pos­i­tive reps and try to im­prove each game.”

Dig­ni­taries on dis­play

Perched high atop the grand­stand Fri­day af­ter­noon was the coach of a col­lege foot­ball team some have pen­ciled in as a po­ten­tial BCS Cham­pi­onship Game con­tender.

Ok­la­homa State coach Mike Gundy was in Cham­pi­ons Sta­dium to watch his son, Gun­nar, quar­ter­back the Still­wa­ter High School team. Gun­nar is a left-handed sopho­more with a ri­fle arm.

Also in at­ten­dance Fri­day was for­mer Ben­tonville High coach Barry Lun­ney Sr., who led the Tigers to mul­ti­ple state ti­tles be­fore re­tir­ing af­ter the 2014 sea­son. — NWA Demo­crat-Gazette staff re­ports

NWA Demo­crat Gazette/SPENCER TIREY

Fayetteville quar­ter­back Dar­ius Bow­ers throws a pass Fri­day dur­ing the South­west Elite 7-on-7 tour­na­ment at Har­mon Field on the cam­pus of Fayetteville High School.

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