Hornets with chance at his­tory

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Josh Briggs [email protected]­ton­courier.com

BRYANT — Re­cent times have been his­toric for the Bryant Hornets foot­ball pro­gram. With the first state ti­tle com­ing last year, tonight Bryant has a chance to re­write the his­tory books again — fin­ish un­de­feated in con­fer­ence ac­tion.

Com­ing in at 9-0 over­all and 6-0 in 7A Cen­tral play, the Hornets have won 13 straight and look to take down Con­way (7-2, 5-1) on the road in Week 10.

“It is a big game for both pro­grams,” said Head Coach Buck James. “Coach (Keith) Fim­ple just started that pro­gram two years ago and we have been here for four years. He is al­ready play­ing for a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship. It is a big game and it is their se­nior night.

“I think if you go 9-1 every­body is go­ing to won­der who beat you. They aren’t go­ing to care about the nine games you won. That’s what we have been preach­ing to our kids all week. We have to fin­ish the race.”

Bryant has not won a con­fer­ence ti­tle since 2013. Even with a loss tonight, the Hornets would be cocham­pi­ons, but would lose the No. 1 seed­ing in the 7A play­offs.

Con­way is rid­ing a fourgame win­ning streak with its most re­cent vic­tory com­ing against Lit­tle Rock Catholic in Week 9.

For Bryant, it faced its tough­est op­po­nent to date last week, de­feat­ing North Lit­tle Rock 35-21 at home — the first non-mercy rule game of the sea­son for the Hornets.

The Wam­pus Cats fell vic­tim to NLR on Oct. 4, los­ing 17-7 on the road.

Two sea­sons ago, Bryant fell be­hind big early against Con­way, but over­came the strug­gles in the sec­ond half to win and earn a first-round bye and No. 2 seed.

James said he hopes his team has worked hard enough to avoid a re­peat of that this time around.

“We hope we took care of that this week in prac­tice,” James said. “We hope our prac­tice reps and tempo will carry over to the game field. But we are deal­ing with 16to 18-year-old kids. Any­thing could hap­pen. I hope our kids are ready and we think we are ready. We prac­tice like we are ready and I an­tic­i­pate our guys go­ing out there play­ing hard.

“I don’t know if there is a magic for­mula or se­cret po­tion that you can spread out over young men to be able to get them to do what they are sup­posed to do ex­actly how they are sup­posed to do it every Fri­day night, but these guys have done a great job of pre­par­ing them­selves all year and un­der­stand­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions they’ve got for them­selves and what our staff has.”

Se­nior quar­ter­back Nick Mccuin leads the Cats un­der cen­ter, throw­ing for 1,445 yards and 10 touch­downs on 100 of 192 com­ple­tions.

He also has been picked off 10 times in 2019.

On the ground, sopho­more Manny Smith helps with a team-high 609 yards and seven rush­ing touch­downs on 61 car­ries.

Against Catholic in Week 9, Smith rushed over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time, go­ing for 102 and two scores on 14 touches in the win.

Ju­nior Ja­maal Bethune fol­lows with 484 yards and three scores on 76 touches for Con­way.

De­fen­sively, se­nior Reed Hughes has played a huge role for the Cats, lead­ing the team with 127 to­tal tack­les, with 86 com­ing via solo va­ri­ety. He is av­er­ag­ing 14.1 tack­les per game.

On the year, he has dropped 10 op­po­nents for loss while get­ting to the quar­ter­back once and forc­ing a fum­ble and in­ter­cep­tion each as well.

Se­nior Ter­rian Har­ris tar­gets the op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs, hav­ing col­lected 15 sacks on the year.

Kick­off is set for 7 p.m. at Con­way

RICK NA­TION/ Spe­cial to The Saline Courier

Bryant ju­nior Joseph Young, 6, catches a touch­down pass in last week’s 35-21 win over North Lit­tle Rock in Bryant. The Hornets hit the road to Con­way to face the Wam­pus Cats tonight to de­cide the 7A Cen­tral Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

RICK NA­TION/SPE­CIAL to The Saline Courier

Bryant Head Coach Buck James talks to his team after the Hornets de­feated North Lit­tle Rock 35-21 last week in Bryant. The Hornets will travel to Con­way to take on the Wam­pus Cats tonight at 7 p.m., with the vic­tor claim­ing the 7A Cen­tral No. 1 seed for the 7A state play­offs.

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