Black­hawks on verge of No. 1?

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SPORTS - JOHN MCGEE Sports Writer

Stephen Neal’s Pea Ridge Black­hawks started the year as the No. 2 team in both ma­jor foot­ball polls, with re­gards to the 4A clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The ’Hawks took their No. 2 rank­ing into the first game played in the state, tee­ing it up with Ham­burg in the Kick­off Clas­sic in Conway Aug. 28. The Pea Ridge of­fense fired up their her­alded of­fense to rack up 50 points against a good Ham­burg team in the 50-30 vic­tory.

The state’s top-rated War­ren Lum­ber­jacks didn’t fare as well, fall­ing 43-28 to Lit­tle Rock Chris­tian in a game that could have been much worse for the de­fend­ing state cham­pi­ons. While War­ren did lead at the half, it was due to LRC hav­ing the ball near the War­ren end zone when turnovers al­lowed the Jacks to flip the field and score go­ing the other way. In the sec­ond half, LRC stopped their mis­takes and cruised by War­ren on their way to vic­tory.

An­other fac­tor in the loss may have been the fact that War­ren’s ros­ter is down to 40 play­ers this sea­son, low num­bers for the foot­ball pow­er­house from the south. It has ru­mored in the na­tional press that for the first time ever, foot­ball par­tic­i­pa­tion may be down in the United States, the first time that may have ever hap­pened.

Mean­while, an­other highly ranked and re­garded team, Lit­tle Rock Robin­son, may have won their opener but they were clearly out­played by Hot Springs Lake­side in an­other early opener. Mul­ti­ple turnovers gave Robin­son a big half­time lead, but they were out­gained in to­tal yardage and should have won the up­set.

Be­cause of a early press time due to the ap­proach­ing La­bor Day Week­end, I don’t know the re­sults of the Week No. 2 MaxPreps or Hooten’s Polls, but there is a good chance that Pea Ridge may be sit­ting atop one or the other. Not that it would af­fect the sea­son one way or an­other, but just for the his­tor­i­cal event it would be. Of course, the only poll that re­ally counts is the one that comes out the week after the state cham­pi­onship game in De­cem­ber. And it is a long, long, “loooong” time to De­cem­ber.

This past Fri­day, Gravette trav­eled to Ozark, Ber­ryville vis­ited De­catur, Gen­try hosted Lavaca, Huntsville in­vaded Green For­est, Elkins took on Shiloh with Lin­coln en­ter­tain­ing Westville.

Pea Ridge also played Fri­day against Booneville, hav­ing al­ready tak­ing down Ham­burg on the pre­vi­ous Mon­day. A lot of foot­ball writ­ers are cu­ri­ous as to how the Black­hawks fared against a tough two-game week, both road con­tests. Should the ’Hawks pre­vail again, I think a num­ber one rank­ing is in the off­ing, at least for now.

Prairie Grove took Farm­ing­ton apart last Tuesday in their “Bat­tle of the High­way” an­nual dustup. Ei­ther the Cards are down this year or the Tigers are bet­ter than ex­pected with the Prairie Grove vic­tory com­ing much eas­ier than ex­pected. I fully ex­pect the Card faith­ful to be clam­or­ing for the top rank­ing them­selves. As a mat­ter of fact, the Tigers did spend a lit­tle time atop the 4A state rank­ings last sea­son be­fore los­ing in the state semi­fi­nals.

In my picks for the games gone by, I think that Gravette’s loss of num­bers and Ozark’s resur­gent foot­ball program may have led to a Hill­billy vic­tory. Not that it would please me, I wish the Lions to win ev­ery game they play with the ex­cep­tion of the game with us. I once lived in Gravette, my grand­son plays in the Gravette sys­tem, and I have met a lot of fine peo­ple over there, so I wish them the best ev­ery sea­son. They are my sec­ond fa­vorite team in the 4A-1.

Huntsville likely whipped a de­pleted Green For­est team which doesn’t have a rosy out­look for the 2017 sea­son. They are happy over there in GF to have got­ten Pea Ridge off their sched­ule this sea­son. How­ever, the AAA has moved the Tigers into the 4A-1 for foot­ball for the 2018 and 2019 sea­sons, so the respite will be a brief one.

Lavaca’s Golden Ar­rows hoped to shoot up Gen­try last Fri­day, but I think the Pi­o­neers have enough skill po­si­tion play­ers to take down their 3A foe. Lavaca won last year in an up­set, but this is an­other year, and it is in Gen­try.

Ber­ryville has the good for­tune, maybe, of play­ing one of the weak­est teams in the state in their opener in De­catur. The 2A school has strug­gled to get enough boys to even have a team. When their coach of 2016 re­signed to be able to coach the cross coun­try team full time, I thought at the time that this may be it for foot­ball. De­catur won the state ti­tle in cross coun­try last fall with a part-time coach, and if the foot­ball beat­ings con­tinue it may die a nat­u­ral death

For the fi­nale, it will be Elkins vis­it­ing Shiloh. This game was sup­posed to be a blow out last year, but it wasn’t. Elkins could have won, and they only lost by a fairly small mar­gin. The new coach and sys­tem put in place at Elkins last year has revved up the Elkins’ for­tunes and they had a ban­ner year in 2016. If they have im­proved a lot this sea­son, they could take the pri­vate school­ers.

This Fri­day, the ’Hawks will be tak­ing a much needed week off, hav­ing al­ready played their first two games of the sea­son. The other seven con­fer­ence schools will be fully en­gaged.

Gen­try will get the nearly au­to­matic win when they en­ter­tain De­catur n the neigh­bor ri­valry. Huntsville plays at Farm­ing­ton, and the out­look doesn’t look all that good for the Ea­gles. Huntsville will be back play­ing in the 5A West next sea­son, and they will likely be the cel­lar dweller after the move.

A big test for the Lions at Gravette will be their host­ing of Booneville, the up and com­ing team from the 4A-4. The ’Hawks played the Bearcats last week so the two games may give us an in­di­ca­tion how the Pea Ridge/Gravette bat­tle may play out come week No. 6 of the sea­son. If Gravette is as de­pleted as some ob­servers have in­di­cated, the Lions may come up short.

Lin­coln is host­ing Keys, a weak program in Ok­la­homa. Maybe the Wolves can get in a vic­tory be­fore the con­fer­ence sea­son be­gins when the “W”s may be hard to get.

Lit­tle Rock Chris­tian is fresh off their con­quest of War­ren, and with a new head coach and new sys­tem, the War­riors seem to have turned a cor­ner down their in Capi­tol City. If Shiloh can pull off a win here, they may be a state con­tender again. Naw — it won’t hap­pen.

Fi­nally, we have Vian vis­it­ing Prairie Grove. The Tigers will be 2-0 with an­other easy win un­der their belts.

State MaxPreps 4A Top 25

1 2 3 4 War­ren

Pea Ridge Prairie Grove Robin­son (Lit­tle Rock) Nashville 0-0 Ash­down 0-0 Gos­nell 0-0 Ozark 0-0 Arkadel­phia 0-0 Shiloh Chris­tian 0-0 (Spring­dale) 11 Stuttgart 0-0 12 Dar­danelle 0-0 13 He­berSprings 0-0 14 Ham­burg 0-1 15 Mena 0-0 16 Malvern 0-0 17 Booneville 0-0 18 Gravette 0-0 19 Tru­mann 0-0 20 South­side 0-0

(Batesville)

5 6 7 8 9 10 0-0 1-0 0-0 1-0 35.3 0.0 30.7 13.2 21.1 0.0 14.7 12.5

14.1 14.0 12.0 8.4 8.0 7.8

7.4 6.8 4.9 3.6 2.9 2.5 0.5 0.2 -2.5 -2.8

0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

0.0 0.0 0.0 40.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

No. 60 John Bross 6’2” 260 lbs. No. 23 Hay­den Holt­grewe 6’1” 165 lbs. No. 15 Trevor Henry 5’6” 155 lbs. No. 11 Kenny Dorsey 5’9” 155 lbs. No. 73 Zack Humphries 6’3” 300 lbs.

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