Panthers travel to Searcy
Siloam Springs has come away from several long road trips this season with victories, but the Panthers will have to do it one more time if they want to keep their football season alive.
Siloam Springs (5-5), the fifth seed out of the 6A-West, makes the 240-mile trek to Searcy on Friday for the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.
The Lions (8-2) finished in a three-way tie for second place in the 6A-East Conference with Marion and Jonesboro, but had to settle for the fourth seed after the tiebreakers were sorted out.
“We’re up against an 8-2 football team that’s had a really good
season,” said Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig. “They have a lot of confidence and they’re playing very good football right now, which is what you want to be doing going into the playoffs. They’ve got some talented kids. But I feel like we’re a team that still hasn’t reached our full potential yet, and I’m hoping Friday night we can do that.”
Searcy is not unfamiliar to Siloam Springs football. The Panthers lost a 49-48 thriller in the opening round of the 2012 playoffs at Searcy. Siloam Springs returned to Searcy in 2013 and walked out of Lion Stadium with a 26-21 victory.
Searcy’s only losses this season came to 6A-East champ West Memphis 56-21 and Jonesboro 41-17.
The Lions are a team that enjoys throwing the football as senior quarterback Peyton Wright has completed 210 of 368 passes for 2,797 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Searcy has a bevy of wide receivers in senior Tim Williams (51 catches, 845 yards, 12 touchdowns), junior Tanner Leonard (57-629, 6 TDs) and junior Dallas Loftis (48627, 2 TDs).
Senior Tony Young leads the Lions in rushing with 662 yards on 144 carries with 11 touchdowns, while Johnson Guthrie has 85 carries for 497 yards and seven scores.
“The quarterback is a good-looking kid,” Craig said. “They’re a run-and-shoot air raid-type team. They’re going to throw the ball all over the place. He’s got a good arm. He’s accurate. Two inside receivers are really active, inside explosive kids. Running back is one of those guys that can do a lot of things with the ball in space.
“Defensively they’re a 3-man front. They’re going to move around. They have
two inside linebackers that look a lot like ours — they’re thumpers. They’re pretty active defensively.”
Offensively, Siloam Springs will counter with its power running game led by senior Kaiden Thrailkill, who is among the state leaders in rushing with 268 carries for 1,443 yards and 16 touchdowns.
“He’s been steady for us all year long,” Craig said of Thrailkill. “He’s been the one guy that has been consistent with his production. A lot of that starts with the offensive line and what they’re doing and their consistency up there, the fact that they’ve jelled and gotten better together. We’re seeing a lot of great play out of them. … We’re really happy with what (Thrailkill’s) done and it’s going to take not only him but everybody we’ve got to play their best game Friday night.”
The Panthers led Russellville 10-0 in the second quarter last week before the Cyclones stormed back for a 30-16 win.
Siloam Springs had four trips to the red zone in the first half and only came away with 10 points.
“It’s one of those things where we haven’t learned how to finish yet,” Craig said. “We’re still trying to get across some points that you have to take care of the football in the red zone. You have to capitalize. You have to come away with something whether it’s a field goal or a touchdown, but we have to get something out of those trips. Unfortunately we haven’t done a great job of that this year.”
Senior quarterback Landon Ellis has completed 99 of 199 passes (49.7 percent) for 1,302 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Gage Weaver and Spenser Pippin each have 26 receptions to lead the team. Weaver has 364 yards receiving and Pippin 263. Primo Agbehi has 12 receptions for 358 yards, for an average of nearly 30 yards per catch.
Siloam Springs junior Tanner Broyles hauls in a 20-yard catch last Friday against Russellville.