Tigers Stay In The Hunt
PRAIRIE GROVE SECURES ROAD WIN
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.