ARKADELPHIA quar­ter­back look­ing for a re­peat.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - Sports - JEREMY MUCK

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.