ARKADELPHIA quarterback looking for a repeat.
Cannon Turner will make his 41st start as Arkadelphia’s starting quarterback today against Joe T. Robinson (12-2) in the Class 4A state championship game.
This isn’t a senior quarterback playing his final high school football game, though.
As Turner prepared this week for the Badgers’ state title game against the Senators, the junior signal-caller reflected on his first season as a starting quarterback in 2016 when he was a freshman.
“I was very nervous,” Turner said. “I just tried to do what my coaches asked me to do. I was very young and I wanted to carry over everything I had learned through the program and try to continue to grow and just get better.”
Badgers Coach J.R. Eldridge was confident Turner could handle being the starting quarterback.
“We felt like physically he could handle it,” Eldridge said. “Then, we also felt like his competitive nature would allow him to handle varsity football. He did a great job for us. It paid off for his sophomore year. He’s a great leader for us, on and off the field, and he’s a great teammate to be around.”
Arkadelphia (9-5) went 5-6 in 2016 in Turner’s first season as a starter, but the Badgers lost at Pea Ridge in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
A year later, the Badgers enjoyed a 14-1 season that was capped with the program’s first state championship since 1997, defeating Warren 28-27. Turner earned the game’s MVP award as a sophomore after passing for 281 yards and 1 touchdown.
“We had a great senior class that led us to that,” Turner
said. “That was our goal all year, nothing short of that. It was a great accomplishment. It was great to do that for the community.”
In his third season as the
Badgers’ starter, Turner isn’t as nervous as he was two years ago.
Turner has completed 77 of 179 passes for 1,255 yards with 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 1,132 yards and 12 scores on 147 carries.
Turner’s attitude and competitiveness have impressed Eldridge.
“He’s one of the best competitors that I’ve ever been around,” Eldridge said. “He’s a real competitor. I saw that from him in the seventh grade. Our coaches saw that from him in the seventh grade.”
Arkadelphia started 0-5 this season, but has won nine consecutive, including defeating three No. 1 seeds on the road (Warren, Stuttgart and Shiloh Christian) to get back to War Memorial Stadium.
“We’ve been playing better as a unit,” Turner said. “We’ve been playing with a lot of energy. We kept coming back to work. We were making the plays we weren’t making the first five games.”
Turner said the Badgers have to match Robinson’s physicality and athleticism today.
“They’re very athletic on defense,” Turner said. “We have to play super violent and play fast.”
NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO Arkadelphia junior quarterback Cannon Turner has passed for 1,255 yards and 12 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,132 yards with 12 scores entering today’s Class 4A final against Joe T. Robinson.