Pan­thers have great op­por­tu­nity this week

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - Gra­ham Thomas

It’s time for the Siloam Springs foot­ball team to rise to the oc­ca­sion.

The Pan­thers host Lake Hamil­ton at 7 p.m. on Fri­day in a piv­otal 6A-West Con­fer­ence game at Pan­ther Sta­dium, and it is cer­tainly a game that the Pan­thers should be com­pet­i­tive in — if not win.

If you re­mem­ber, Lake Hamil­ton sort of came out of nowhere and fin­ished third in the 6A-West Con­fer­ence last sea­son, go­ing 5-2 in league play and only los­ing games to con­fer­ence champ Green­wood and even­tual state champ Rus­sel­lville.

Things haven’t gone as smoothly so far for the Wolves un­der first-year coach Tommy Gilleran. Lake Hamil­ton, like Siloam Springs, is 2-4 over­all but the Wolves are 0-3 in the 6AWest with losses to El Do­rado 35-13, Texarkana 14-9 and Rus­sel­lville 40-35 last week.

Don’t let Lake Hamil­ton’s record fool you. This team will be a big chal­lenge to the Pan­thers on Fri­day night, and win­ning the bat­tle up front will be a big part of it.

The Wolves have chewed up a lot of yardage on the ground of­fen­sively led by sopho­more run­ning back Ma­lik Brewer, who has 601 yards on 77 car­ries and six touch­downs. He re­ally shined last week against Rus­sel­lville, rush­ing 20 times for 192 yards. Se­nior Ja­cob Ni­chols has rushed for 494 yards on 65 car­ries and has scored six touch­downs as well. He had 10 car­ries for 114 yards against the Cy­clones last week.

In the pass­ing game, Wolves se­nior quar­ter­back Utah Aitken has com­pleted 29 of 81 passes for 497 yards for four touch­downs and seven in­ter­cep­tions. Their pass­ing game hasn’t been their strong set, but the Wolves are cer­tainly ca­pa­ble.

Lake Hamil­ton won this game a year ago 56-33 in Pearcy, but I’m not sure the Wolves ever re­ally stopped Siloam Springs. The Pan­thers sort of stopped them­selves and helped the Wolves with a pair of turnovers that led di­rectly to Lake Hamil­ton touch­downs.

But last year is last year. The Pan­thers are a much im­proved foot­ball team from a year ago. There’s no doubt about that.

Heck, did you see what Green­wood coach Rick Jones told me af­ter last week’s 38-0 Green­wood win?

“I give those guys a lot of credit,” Jones said. “Coach has them play­ing hard, and fight­ing and scrap­ping, and that’s what foot­ball’s all about.”

That’s a nice com­pli­ment about the Pan­thers from one who is con­sid­ered to be one of the top coaches in the state.

Lake Hamil­ton has a long — grab a pen and un­der­line long — trip to North­west Arkansas on Fri­day. It’s not an easy one, and that will have an im­pact.

A win Fri­day night at home would go a long way for Siloam Springs in reach­ing the Class 6A play­offs. Let’s see if the Pan­thers can rise to the oc­ca­sion.

— Gra­ham Thomas is the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for the Her­ald-Leader. He can be reached at gth­omas@ The opin­ion­sex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.