Division II Notebook:
Saints host huge nonconference foe
The Saints will host one of the program’s biggest nonconference games in several years Friday when Little Rock Christian comes into Champions Stadium.
Shiloh Christian (1-0) opened the season with a 50-18 win against Elkins last week, in a game that was marred with several ejections for both teams.
Saints coach Jeff Conaway said after reviewing film of the altercation that none of his players left the bench area.
“Our kids came off the field like they have been coached to do,” Conaway said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a group of guys handle something like this better than they did.”
Little Rock Christian knocked off defending Class 4A state champion Warren 43-28 in its opener as Arkansas basketball signee Justice Hill passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more. The Warriors trailed 20-7 before scoring 30 points in the second half.
Conaway joked that the Saints will have their hands full trying to contain Hill and the explosive Warriors’ offense.
“He’s a great player,” Conaway said of Hill. “I think he should just focus on one sport, basketball.”
Conaway said the Saints will likely be without senior Jaret Russ, who injured an ankle in Friday’s game. Russ scored three touchdowns before leaving the game with the injury.
— Chip Souza • @NWAChip
Wolves add excitement to home opener
Lincoln will take the field with a 1-0 record when the Wolves host Keys, Okla., in its home opener on Friday.
It’s a special event for Lincoln, which replaced its grass field with an artificial surface and built an indoor field house for football during the offseason. Workers spent Labor Day on Monday replacing the goal posts on the artificial turf at Wolf Pack Stadium. The Wolves will move this week into a new field house that includes separate locker rooms for the varsity and junior varsity teams, coaches’ offices, and a room with washing machines and dryers.
“We want our kids to have nice things and this is something they’ve been waiting on for five years now,” Lincoln coach Don Harrison said. “Any time you’re 1-0 it makes you feel better and that win just adds to the excitement in playing on our new field turf.”
Lincoln beat Westville 18-7 on the road after losing to the Oklahoma team the previous two years. Senior Braden Umberson led the way with seven catches and two interceptions for the Wolves.
“Braden went up in double coverage and made a play for a touchdown that put the game away,” Harrison said. “He had a really good game and, overall, on defense, we tackled well. That’s something we’ve emphasized, not only doing it correctly but in doing it safely.”
First of two meetings with Dragons
Conference play arrives early in the 2A-4 Conference Friday when Hackett plays at Mountainburg in the first of two meetings between the teams.
Hackett and Mountainburg began playing twice last season after Fort Smith’s Union Christian left the conference to join a private-school league in Oklahoma. Hackett has won the last four meetings, although the Hornets needed a late 2-point conversion to beat Mountainburg 26-25 in 2015.
“Mountainburg lost a lot of guys from last year, but they’re a good-looking team,” Hackett coach Lonnie Hester said. “They’re big and physical and we have to be disciplined with our assignments. We can’t be chasing fakes all night.”
Hackett posted a 40-0 shutout over Pocola, Okla., to begin the season while Mountainburg opened with a 26-12 victory over Cedarville. Brady Hester, the coach’s son, completed 10 of 12 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Hornets. Cooper Shipman rushed for 103 yards and Pacey McBride caught two touchdown passes and intercepted two passes.
Jesse Quick rushed for 127 yards and one touchdown to lead Mountainburg past Cedarville.
Blackhawks respond to challenge
Coaches challenge their players all the time, and the Blackhawks responded better than anyone could have expected in Week 1.
Pea Ridge is rewarded with a week off after the Blackhawks won two games in five days, starting with a 50-30 victory over Hamburg at the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic in Conway. Pea Ridge made another road trip to Booneville on Friday and won 29-19 after falling behind 19-0 after one quarter.
The two victories, coupled with a loss by Warren, moved Pea Ridge from No. 2 to No. 1 in the Class 4A rankings. The Blackhawks will play their next two games at home against Farmington and Gentry.
“When we put this schedule together, we wanted to challenge our kids,” Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal said. “We’re a little beat up right now after two games against really good opponents. But they accepted the challenge and it can’t do anything but help us down the road.”
Senior running back Drew Winn rushed for 324 yards combined in the two games and scored seven touchdowns.
— Rick Fires • @NWARick