Black­hawks do well on Na­tional Sign­ing Day

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - SPORTS - JOHN MCGEE Spe­cial to The TIMES

Na­tional Sign­ing Day was Wed­nes­day, Feb. 14. It is an event reg­u­lated by the Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (NCAA) and the foot­ball Black­hawks were a big part of it. Four se­nior play­ers signed schol­ar­ships and na­tional let­ters of in­tent to ex­tend their foot­ball ca­reers into col­lege.

An an­nual event since the 1980s, the NCAA de­cided to bring some or­der to a re­cruit­ing process that had grown in such scope and size to the point that it was be­com­ing chaotic. Play­ers may sign with col­leges af­ter that date and most will, but the best play­ers usu­ally sign on that first Wed­nes­day in Fe­bru­ary.

Drew Winn signed with Pitts­burg State in Pitts­burg, Kan. Winn, the last of three broth­ers (Day­ton and Dakota) who starred for the Black­hawks, set the sin­gle sea­son rush­ing record with 2,285 yards as well as the sin­gle sea­son scor­ing record by rack­ing up 32 touch­downs in 2017. He was named the North­west Arkansas Di­vi­sion II Player of the Year as well as mak­ing the Arkansas 4A All-State team.

Two for­mer Black­hawks will be head­ing for south Arkansas to­gether as Jakota Sains­bury and Hay­den Holt­grewe will be play­ing for Hen­der­son State. Holt­grewe was a three-year starter for Pea Ridge, catch­ing 83 passes this year for 1,271 yards while scor­ing 15 touch­downs. The elu­sive three­sport ath­lete was one of the top kick re­turn­ers in the state re­gard­less of clas­si­fi­ca­tion, and was a solid de­fender.

Sains­bury com­pleted most of his passes this sea­son, hit­ting 167 of 269 at­tempts to rack up 2,419 yards while scor­ing 28 touch­downs.His quar­ter­back rat­ing was con­sis­tently one of the best in the state through­out the sea­son. A part-time starter as as sopho­more, Sains­bury quar­ter­backed the team into the state fi­nals in 2016 and made it to the state semi-fi­nals in his other two sea­sons be­hind cen­ter.

The fourth se­nior to sign Wed­nes­day was Jor­dan Witcher, 6’2”, 180 pounds, who will be tak­ing his tal­ents to north­ern Mis­souri where he will play for Mis­souri Western. Although play­ing on a team with nu­mer­ous stars in place this past sea­son, Witcher still man­aged to catch 56 passes for 809 yards and scored 10 times. He was also a force on de­fense.

Hen­der­son State re­cruited heav­ily in the 4A-1 Con­fer­ence, pick­ing up three other play­ers to go with the Pea Ridge duo. Wil­liam Hawkins of Prairie Grove signed with Hen­der­son State as a 6’4”, 305-pound of­fen­sive line­man with Gravette’s 6’2”, 260-pound Bai­ley Soule sign­ing to play on the de­fen­sive side of the ball at Arkadel­phia. Jon Faulken­berry of Gen­try, a 6’1”, 190-pound mul­ti­tal­ented ath­lete, will be a Red­die with his for­mer con­fer­ence ri­vals. Faulken­berry car­ried his team last fall, pi­lot­ing them into the play­offs with his pass­ing and rush­ing tal­ents.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, Pea Ridge had the most signees in Ben­ton County, sur­pass­ing Ben­tonville’s two signees (Adam Brazel, Eas­ton Miller) and Ben­tonville West’s three ath­letes (Michael Toney, Hunter Swo­boda and Tyler Med­lock). Gravette had an­other player sign as Chris Chil­dress agreed to play for

Hen­drix Col­lege in the fall.

In all of north­west Arkansas, only Spring­dale Har-Ber had more signees that did Pea Ridge. The Wild­cats had four play­ers ink agree­ments. Spring­dale and

Fayet­teville had one foot­ball player sign with no play­ers from Rogers or Her­itage get­ting that dis­tinc­tion.

Though only a 4A school, the Black­hawks’ suc­cess over the past few sea­sons has led to greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for its stu­dent ath­letes, and the lo­cals have made Pea Ridge a rec­og­niz­able force to be reck­oned with no mat­ter the clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

TIMES pho­tograpsh by An­nette Beard

Black­hawk se­nior Drew Winn was cheered Wed­nes­day on by fam­ily as he signed his let­ter of in­tent to play foot­ball for Pitts­burg State Univer­sity, Pitts­burg, Kan. Fam­ily mem­bers were Dickie and Day­ton Winn, Lilly Walker, Will Walker and Kristi and Heath Walker.

Black­hawk se­nior Hay­den Holt­grewe signed a let­ter of in­tent to play foot­ball for Hen­der­son State Univer­sity, Arkadelkphia, Ark., as his mother Linda, fa­ther Chris and brother, Wy­att, looked on.

Black­hawk se­nior Jakota Sains­bury signed a let­ter of in­tent to play foot­ball for Hen­der­son State Univer­sity, Arkadelkphia, Ark., sur­rounded by his par­ents John ad Bobbi and broth­ers, John, Jor­dan and Jar­ran.

Black­hawk se­nior Jor­dan Witcher was ac­com­pa­nied by his fam­ily Ben and Melissa Witcher and broth­ers, Baron, 8, and Ai­son, 3, Wed­nes­day dur­ing a cel­e­bra­tion when he signed his let­ter of in­tent to play foot­ball for Mis­souri Western State Univer­sity, St. Joseph, Mo.

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