The Mounties (5-3, 2-3) had no answer for Bentonville High offense and Rogers coach Mike Loyd thought the Tigers’ defense was the most physical his team has played this season.
That combination led to a lop-sided 63-19 loss last Friday.
“Two sophomores couldn’t block their nose guard,” Loyd said. “He’s not the biggest kid, but he’s strong — about 240 — and they play great technique. I think Bentonville is as sound defensively as anybody I’ve seen since I left Florida.”
“They don’t make mistakes. They don’t misalign. We couldn’t handle them up front. That’s the first time I thought we just got beat up physically.”
It doesn’t get any easier as the Mounties travel to 7A-West co-leader Bentonville West on Friday.
Rogers had some success slowing down Bentonville on the ground and Loyd said he loaded the box to do that. The problem was the Mounties had no answer for the passing game as the Tigers rolled to a 49-7 halftime lead.
Senior wide receiver Hunter Hawkins didn’t play with a high ankle sprain and is questionable this week, Loyd said. Hawkins is the Mounties’ second leading receiver with 27 catches for 432 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Mason Ross also suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago, but played Friday and had one reception.
Sophomore quarterback Hunter Loyd threw for two touchdowns, but also threw an interception against Bentonville. He also ran for a score.
Cats likely to snap skid on Senior Night
Har-Ber, in the midst of a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2014, is looking to end that this week against Van Buren.
Friday is the Wildcats’ final regular season home game of the year, and there are plans to honor its senior class beforehand, a group that has experienced a state championship game, and won back-to-back 7A-West titles.
“They’re a special group to the history of Har-Ber football,” coach Chris Wood said. “Your goal was to try to be a part of a third (league title), but that’s not in the playing deck right now. But the ultimate goal is to win a state championship, and we’re still positioned to get to Little Rock and do that. These guys are real focused on it, and as a coach and a coaching staff, we want to get those guys to Little Rock.
“The road is not easy, and we understand that, but we believe if we play clean football, efficient football, and don’t turn the ball over we can play with any team in the state.”
This week, the losing skid likely comes to a close against a struggling Pointers club, which comes in 0-8 overall and 0-5 in the 7A-West. In the final two weeks of regular-season play, Har-Ber faces the two teams on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Gaining momentum toward the playoffs and remaining in a position to host a first-round playoff game are the priorities.
Last week against Fayetteville, running back Payton Copher carried the ball a season-high 22 times for a season-best 108 yards and a touchdown, becoming Har-Ber’s first 100-yard rusher of the season. The team’s 161 rushing yards were good for second best in a game in conference play.
Defensively, Bryton Cook recovered a fumble and scored early in the second half, and came away with an interception of Darius Bowers in the loss at Fayetteville. He will be a game-time decision (knee) Friday, Wood said. Look for his story in Friday’s NWADG.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
Battle of the Bulldogs: Edition 115
Chickens released in the high school lobby. Purple marshmallows on the field. And something about diesel gasoline killing the natural grass.
“That’s as legend would have it,” Springdale coach Zak Clark said with a laugh recalling the Fayetteville-Springdale rivalry during his playing days. “There was always something to add to the excitement.”
Clark has spent time on both sides of the rivalry (Springdale leads 71-42-1) as a player and offensive coordinator at Fayetteville and now in his third season heading Springdale. Growing up, there was nothing better for him than when the two met. Friday night at Harmon Field, the 115th edition of the rivalry is written with playoff seeding implications in the balance.
“Before the split it was the best rivalry in the state,” Clark said. “There was just something about that game, and it was a special rivalry. The two towns, and it was bitter enemies, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of it.”
Fayetteville enters on a three-game winning streak, knocking off Springdale Har-Ber last week, pushing its once four-game losing streak further into the rearview. Springdale, in Week 8, ended a three-game skid with a dominant effort against Van Buren, crushing the Pointers 42-7.
Quarterback Layne Hutchins threw for a season-high 332 yards and four scores and Springdale finished the night with two 100-yard receivers (Alex Thompson, Kamond Robinson) for the first time since Week 6 last season at Bentonville West. Springdale’s defense also bounced back, limiting the Pointers to 2-of-10 on third down and 0-of-2 on fourth down.
“We responded well, so that’s encouraging,” Clark said, “More than anything I was worried going into the week about where we were at. I think our guys responded, and came out and played really well.
“We got here Monday, first thing we do is have a team meeting in the afternoon, and winning cures a lot,” he continued. “There was a different pep in their step, and everybody’s having a good time.”
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
The end result was another lop-sided loss, but War Eagles coach Tony Travis found some positives following the 59-21 defeat at Bentonville West.
“We just never got stops,” Travis said. “But we played with a lot more focus than we did in the first half against Fayetteville. We moved the ball better against West and I think that has everything to do about the mentality we entered the game with.”
Heritage (1-7, 1-4 7A-West) continues a brutal stretch of the schedule when it takes on 7A-West co-leader Bentonville High (6-2, 5-0) on Friday. The Tigers rolled past Rogers High 63-19 last week.
Senior quarterback Trey Kitterman is continuing to deal with a shoulder problem, but played despite taking another shot last Friday, Travis said.
But junior Zach Brown came on at quarterback and threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Senior running back Dylan Qualls topped 100 yards rushing again and continues to lead the 7A-West Conference in that category.
“Zach came in and had another touchdown called back,” Travis said. “Zach Gall showed the speed that we saw early on a 70-yard touchdown. He’s been dealing with a groin issue and I told him he really looked fast again.”
Qualls’ season rushing total of 918 yards through eight weeks, surpassed his season total of 866 and he’s done it with 62 fewer carries. The senior is averaging more than 7 yards a carry. He’s also scored five touchdowns.
There are some distractions Bentonville must avoid this week as the Tigers prepare for their game against Rogers Heritage.
It is Senior Night, so those playing their last regular-season home game will be honored before Friday’s game. Talk is also rising about next week’s game, when Bentonville will play Bentonville West with the 7A-West championship and a No. 1 seed in the Class 7A state playoffs on the line.
“It’s something we talked to our kids about, and they’re only distractions if you allow them to be a distraction,” Bentonville coach Jody Grant said. “I think it’s a choice you make. We’re a one-week-at-a-time team, and there’s no way we’re changing now.
“Yes, it’s Senior Night and yes, there will be some emotions. There’s still a football game to be played, and this is something we’ve worked hard for all week. There’s still a game to be played, and I tell you senior nights are a lot more fun when you win the game.”
The Tigers will try to build off last week’s impressive 63-19 victory over Rogers High, where Bentonville scored not only on offense, but on defense and special teams. Eugene Crawford returned an interception 27 yards for one score, and Preston Campbell had a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“We played good from the start,” Grant said. “I was pleased with the way we operated on both sides of the football, and in special teams.
“Our first-team defense — as a unit, I don’t think it gave up a first down until we started sprinkling in some of the other guys. Obviously, our offense operated real clean, and we even did some good things on special teams.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
West’s game Friday night at Rogers High won’t have a bearing on next week’s game, when the Wolverines meet Bentonville for the outright 7A-West Conference championship and the No. 1 for the Class 7A state playoffs.
But don’t tell West coach Bryan Pratt that his team is playing a meaningless game this week.
“A lot of people have already talked about the bye week and what’s coming up next week when we’re playing for the conference championship,” Pratt said. “To us, this game means a whole lot, and it’s the next game.
“The whole philosophy of our team is to be 1-0 each week. This week is the most important week to us, and we’re trying to get our kids focused and ready for it. Hopefully we can go out and take care of business like we did last week and get better each week.”
The Wolverines had their best offensive performances of the season, compiling 37 first downs and 658 yards total offense in a 59-21 victory over Rogers Heritage. West, however, couldn’t invoke the sportsmanship rule and force the clock until the final 3 minutes of the game.
“We didn’t play our best football last week,” Pratt said. “Offensively, we played really well, but I thought we fell off a little bit defensively. Our coaches weren’t very happy about that.
“After a big win against Springdale Har-Ber and playing the way we did, you knew our players would be down a little bit. It’s hard to keep that momentum every week. Ask Clemson and those guys who get beat when they aren’t supposed to get beat.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
Here is a look at area offensive stat leaders through Week 8. For errors, contact Scottie Bordelon on Twitter at @NWAScottie.