The Blackhawks had about 15 seconds to enjoy their season opening 50-30 win against Hamburg on Monday in Conway before shifting their focus to Friday’s game at Booneville.
Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal said preparations for the 4A-4 Conference favorite Bearcats were part of his team’s preparation since summer practice started.
“Most of the preparation has already taken place,” Neal, who is 14-2 as the head coach at Pea Ridge. “We knew playing these two games, there was hardly going to be any practice, or normal practice.”
The Blackhawks did not get back home from Conway until the early hours of Tuesday morning, and used Wednesday to work out the soreness from the Monday game before getting a light practice in Thursday. The team will leave early Friday for the long trip to Booneville.
“Now it’s just a matter of polishing up and getting over the bumps and bruises,” Neal said.
The Pea Ridge rolled to a 41-22 win last year at home against Booneville, but the Bearcats are a much improved team this year as those sophomores last season now have a year under their belts.
— Chip Souza • @NWAChip
Tigers coach Greg Kendrick celebrated his 50th career victory Tuesday night when Charleston claimed a 29-23 victory at Dardanelle, but it was looking bleak with under 4 minutes remaining.
Dardanelle already owned a 23-21 lead when a bad snap on a punt attempt gave Dardanelle the ball on the Charleston 16. The Sand Lizards quickly picked up 9 yards on a quarterback keeper by Elyas Carter on their first play, and a touchdown would have left the Tigers in a bad situation.
“I asked coach (Matt) Stewart, our defensive coordinator, if we could stop them,” Kendrick said. “He said ‘Yes, you better believe we can stop them.’ I love his confidence level and what he brings to our kids and the way our kids play for him.
“We got some breaks. You know, good teams create their own breaks.”
The break Charleston needed came when Dardanelle tried a screen pass on third-and-4 from the 10, and defensive lineman Dain Young picked up the interception, giving the Tigers the ball on their 21 with 2:14 remaining. Charleston covered the distance in 13 plays, capped by Brayden Caudle’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Jaxson Furr with 8 seconds left to play.
“We practice that every Wednesday,” Kendrick said. “We have 1:25 on the clock with no timeouts, and we put the ball on the 5. The kids executed it to perfection.”
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
Two-way players are a huge part of Prairie Grove’s success. Keeping the best athletes off the sidelines — and on the field — gives the Tigers their best chance to win, but the coaching staff isn’t always on the same page in that regard.
“We would really like to platoon if we can,” said Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier. “And (defensive coordinator Craig) Laird is more mindful of that than I am. I’m, obviously, old school where somebody never comes out of the game — they play the whole entire game.”
Two-way players made a huge impact in the Tigers’ 36-13 win at Farmington on Tuesday. That included quarterback/linebacker JD Elder, running back/safety Anthony Johnson, tight end/defensive end Demarkus Cooper and receiver/cornerback Collin Cooper, among others.
Johnson rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries and caught three passes for 23 yards. He also made several plays on defense and the only time he missed many plays was when he came out for a series due to cramping legs.
“With 38 on a team, the depth is not there for us this year,” Abshier said. “We may have to do it a lot more than we’d like to, so we may have to get in a lot better shape because there was some cramping going on out there.”
Prairie Grove’s coaches don’t want to play their top players every snap, but when the game is on the line, they’re sure to have they’re best 11 on the field.
— Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy