Tigers Stay In The Hunt


Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Humphrey

PRAIRIE GROVE — Bat­tling for play­off seed­ing, Prairie Grove found it­self in a 14-14 tie with Gen­try in the se­cond quar­ter when se­nior lead­er­ship stepped to the fore­front.

Se­nior sig­nal caller Ethan Guen­ther (5 car­ries, 31 yards), who be­gan the sea­son as backup to Ethan Scates and start­ing tight end, guided the Tigers on an ur­gent mis­sion. Ethan Guen­ther snuck over from the one with less than two min­utes re­main­ing in the half to put Prairie Grove back in front. The con­ver­sion failed, but the Tigers main­tained a 20-14 half­time ad­van­tage — an emo­tional fac­tor dur­ing a tight game.

“Ethan Guen­ther has worked quar­ter­back off and on his whole ca­reer and he can play any po­si­tion on the field,” Prairie Grove coach Danny Ab­shier said ear­lier in the sea­son. “He is a very, pa­tient guy, who knows our of­fense as well as any­body. He has a very calm de­meanor. He has al­ways wanted to be a quar­ter­back.”

An in­jury to Scates in week two forced the Tigers to ad­just with Ethan Guen­ther tak­ing over at quar­ter­back and his brother, ju­nior Gra­ham Guen­ther, mov­ing to tight end.

En­ter­ing week eight Prairie Grove was fourth in league stand­ings but rose to a tie for third by virtue of a crit­i­cal 33-26 road win at Gen­try Fri­day.

That cou­pled with Lin­coln’s loss to Shiloh Chris­tian bumped the Tigers (4-4, 3-2) into equal stand­ing with the Wolves (6-2, 3-2) go­ing into week nine. The teams will meet in the reg­u­lar sea­son fi­nale in week 10 with po­ten­tial play­off seed­ing on the line should both win this week. Prairie Grove hosts Ber­ryville while Lin­coln vis­its Gen­try this week.

Prairie Grove got rush­ing touch­downs from quar­ter­back Ethan Guen­ther (5 car­ries, 31 yards), and sopho­more half­back Cade Grant (7 car­ries, 29 yards) to build a 20-14 half­time lead over a sopho­more-laden Pi­o­neer squad brim­ming with po­ten­tial.

The Tiger de­fense forced a Gen­try punt which re­sulted in ex­cel­lent field po­si­tion for the of­fense, which went in re­verse and wound up fac­ing first-and-27 from its own 40.

For Prairie Grove coach Danny Ab­shier the so­lu­tion was sim­ple: get the ball in the hands of a play­maker. The Tigers went ver­ti­cal with Ethan Guen­ther hit­ting James Mill­wood for a 44-yard gain to the Gen­try 16.

“James is a win­ner,” Ab­shier said. “We fig­ured that out, we use him more.”

Prairie Grove stretched its lead to 26-14 in the third quar­ter on an­other Ethan Guen­ther 2-yard run, then added an in­surance touch­down when Mill­wood (3 catches, 75 yards) hauled in an 11-yard touch­down pass from Ethan

Guen­ther. Cade Walker kicked the point-af­ter and the Tigers en­joyed a 33-14 ad­van­tage with 7:59 re­main­ing.

Se­nior full­back Gar­rett Hel­temes (14 car­ries, 133 yards) played an in­stru­men­tal role for Prairie Grove to es­tab­lish an early lead, an im­por­tant fac­tor on the road. He took a hand­off with the line of scrim­mage at the Tiger 28. Fol­low­ing the half­back lead blocker, Hel­temes ran off right tackle cross­ing the 30 and cut­ting in­side a down­field block by wide re­ceiver Jake Wat­son. Hel­temes was ini­tially hit at the 38, but dragged Gen­try tack­lers with him churn­ing his knees and main­tain­ing his bal­ance.

He stepped out of one tackle at the Tiger 47 and used that mo­men­tum to surge across the 50 be­fore fi­nally go­ing down at the Pi­o­neer 48.

Again run­ning off right tackle, Hel­temes gained 8 yards to Gen­try’s 36. From the Pi­o­neer 12, he lined up at full­back be­hind quar­ter­back Ethan Guen­ther. A man went in mo­tion and Hel­temes took the hand­off fol­low­ing him and a wall of block­ers on a right sweep. He saw an open­ing at the 10, raced through the hole, turned on the jets and beat all pur­suit to the right py­lon for a touch­down stand­ing up with 7:38 left in the first quar­ter.

Gen­try fought back be­hind the pass­ing of quar­ter­back Bran­don Atwood, who came in av­er­ag­ing 143 yards-pergame, and drove deep into Tiger ter­ri­tory. The Pi­o­neers lost the han­dle but Zach Jar­na­gan made a fum­ble re­cov­ery and ran in end zone from a yard out for a touch­down a the 5:16 mark of the first quar­ter.

Prairie Grove got a rush­ing touch­down by sopho­more half­back Cade Grant (7 car­ries, 29 yards) but Gen­try came back to knot the score at 14-14 on Jar­na­gan’s 1-yard run with 3:55 to go be­fore half­time.


Prairie Grove se­nior quar­ter­back Ethan Guen­ther sheds tack­lers with a stiff-arm and churn­ing knees. He ran six times for 31 yards and a pair of touch­downs dur­ing Fri­day’s 33-14 win by the Tigers.

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