Gob­lins one of best teams in Class 5A

Siloam Springs blew a 10-point half­time lead against Har­ri­son last sea­son.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com

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.”

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