Goblins one of best teams in Class 5A
Siloam Springs blew a 10-point halftime lead against Harrison last season.
Siloam Springs led Rogers 27-7 in the first half of last Friday’s season opener at Panther Stadium, only to watch Rogers outscore the Panthers 27-6 in the second half as the Mounties rallied for a 34-33 victory.
It was eerily familiar to a game
last season against this week’s opponent.
Siloam Springs led Harrison 19-9 at halftime last season and seemed in control of the game in the third quarter when things turned south. The Goblins went on a 30-0 tear to end the game and left Panther Stadium with a 39-19 victory.
“Epic second-half meltdown,” Siloam Springs head coach Bryan Ross recalled of last season’s game against Harrison.
Harrison receiver Daniel McCormick got behind the Panthers’ defense for touchdown receptions of 79 and 85 yards in the second half along with a 34-yard TD catch in the first half, and he’s one of several players back for the Goblins, who host the Panthers at 7 p.m. Friday at F.S. Garrison Stadium.
Ross doesn’t believe last year’s outcome has any bearing on this year’s game, but he thinks it’s important to remember how the wheels fell off the wagon.
“I just hope it makes our kids more motivated,” he said.
Harrison finished 8-3 last season and 5-2 in the rugged 5A-West Conference, losing at Batesville 35-14 in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs. It was a four-win improvement from the 4-6 mark the Goblins had in coach Joel Wells’ first year in 2015 after replacing Chad Harbison as the Goblins’ head coach.
Harrison opened the 2016 season ranked No. 6 in Class 5A and the Goblins picked up a 27-7 victory last Friday at Class 6A rival Mountain Home — the Goblins’ fifth straight victory over the Bombers.
The Goblins (1-0) only outgained the Bombers 223 to 206 in total offense, but they took advantage of short fields and solid special teams to earn the road victory.
“That’s part of being a good football team,” Ross said. “I know Coach Wells; they had a lot of improvement last year. I’m pretty sure they were expecting to be good this year with a couple of the junior high classes that they’ve had. No doubt, we’ll have to go over there and play well.”
Harrison led Mountain Home 7-0 at halftime, but the Bombers drove 10 plays for a game-tying score to open the second half.
The Goblins regained the lead in less than a minute, recovered the ensuing kickoff and scored again to re-establish control of the game. Harrison also used a strong punt return to set up good field position for its final score.
Cameron Jones led Harrison with five catches for 72 yards, while McCormick had a 10-yard touchdown reception.
Harrison quarterback Noah Ditmanson completed 9 of 21 passes for 118 yards while Caleb Huskey rushed for 60 yards.
“I think they’re a physical football team,” Ross said. “They’re pretty big up front. Offensively, they’re very multiple. They give you a ton of different formations. It looks like they’re trying to find a mismatch somewhere that they can exploit.”
Last season, Ditmanson played against Siloam Springs, but he split time at quarterback with Taner Edwards, who threw for 287 yards against the Panthers. Ditmanson completed 6 of 13 passes for 55 yards. McCormick caught five passes for 231 yards in last year’s game.
Siloam Springs showed a balanced offense in its first game against Rogers, as junior quarterback Landon Ellis completed 17 of 26 passes for 262 yards.
Luke Gumm led the Panthers’ receivers with seven catches for 112 yards and a touchdown, while Primo Agbehi caught three passes for 69 yards and Tristan Moose added three catches for 62 yards.
The Panthers rushed for 188 yards on 39 carries, led by Kaiden Thrailkill’s 30 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns.
Marquan Sorrells led the Panthers defensively with seven solo tackles against Rogers, while Kevin Canales and Chase Chandler each had five solo tackles. Spenser Pippin recovered a fumble forced by Jacob Rowe and Gumm had an interception.
“I think if we’ll come out and execute and we’ll prepare like we did for Rogers. If we’ll keep trying to do that and continue to get better, we should have a chance,” Ross said. “I think maybe speed-wise and with quickness, we have the edge. It’ll be a good ballgame. Anytime you go to Harrison, it’s a challenge.”