OFFENSE rules in Class 3A championship.
Booneville Coach Scott Hyatt spoke with his contemporary from Rison earlier this week to get his thoughts on today’s Class 3A state championship opponent, Osceola.
Clay Totty, whose Wildcats lost 37-28 at Osceola in last Saturday’s Class 3A semifinals, was brutally honest with Hyatt when it came to the Seminoles’ high-powered offense that averages 44.3 points per game.
“Coach Totty said field position doesn’t mean anything to those guys,” Hyatt said. “They can score at any time.”
The Bearcats will get their shot at the Seminoles today at noon at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Booneville (14-0) has been the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s No. 1 team in Class 3A all season. The Bearcats are averaging 42.3 points per game and are playing in their first state championship game since 2013, when they defeated Warren in the Class 4A title game.
Senior fullback Carson Ray leads the Bearcats offensively, rushing for 1,595 yards and 30 touchdowns.
“Carson has been a great leader on and off the field,” Hyatt said. “He’s played the way we’ve expected him to. It means something to him.
“He wants to leave his mark on Booneville.”
Osceola Coach Robert Hooks said he’s been impressed with the Bearcats throughout the season.
“They’re a very strong and physical team,” Hooks said. “They have some speed. I think they have 2-3 guys as fast as anybody we have. It’s going to be a great challenge.”
Osceola (13-1) is making its first state championship game appearance since 1998. Hooks arrived in the Mississippi County town in 2017 after serving as an assistant at Bryant under Buck James and had high expectations early on for the Seminoles.
“I sold them a dream,” Hooks said. “I told them we have the talent, the athletes to be state champions. But talent without any work or discipline, you’ll be a loser. But if you have some self-discipline and/or leaders, you have a chance to be a state champion.
I didn’t think playing in a state championship would happen this fast. But I’m very, very excited and grateful to be here.”
The Seminoles are led by sophomore quarterback Kam
Turner (2,472 offensive yards, 38 touchdowns), senior wide receiver Jariq Scales (6 touchdowns) and junior wide receiver Greg Hooks (10 touchdowns).
Hyatt is aware of the Seminoles’ speed and is hopeful the Bearcats can keep the ball away from the Seminoles.
“We can’t match up with their speed,” Hyatt said. “If we ran a track meet, they would wear us down.
“We just have to play the style of ball we play. We have to control the ball and run the clock. If we can keep the ball, we can be successful.”
Booneville lost senior starting quarterback Brandon Ulmer to a knee injury in its season opener against Clarksville on Aug. 23. The injury didn’t deter the Bearcats, as they are undefeated with backup quarterback Ethan Schlinker (14 touchdown passes).
Booneville is attempting to win its first state title since 2013 and fourth overall (1986, 2000, 2013).
“It would be awesome [to win],” Hyatt said. “It’s what everybody works for.”
Meanwhile, Osceola hasn’t won a state title since 1997, when it defeated McGehee for the then-Class AAA championship.
“It would be big for the city,” Scales said. “It hasn’t been done in 21 years. It would follow you forever.”
Booneville senior fullback Carson Ray has rushed for 1,595 yards and 30 touchdowns heading into today’s Class 3A championship game against Osceola.