November 10, 2009
SPRINGDALE Flowers Earns Leadership Role
Bentonville linebacker Arthur Flowers didn’t just assume a leadership role this season - he earned it.
“It didn’t just happen because he was a senior,” Bentonville coach Barry Lunney said. “He earned it in offseason, in the weight room and in practice.”
Friday night, he earned the Northwest Arkansas Newspapers’ 7A-West Conference Player of the Week honor.
Flowers recorded 15 tackles, including two for lost yardage, and forced a fumble in Bentonville’s 17-0 whitewashing of No. 1 Springdale Har-Ber. The win also earned the Tigers a share of the conference championship, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and homefield advantage throughout postseason play.
Last year, Bentonville rode a defense with 10 seniors to the state championship. Flowers was the only returning starter off that unit this year for the Tigers.
“He grew into the role of leadership,” Lunney said. “There were a lot of new faces on defense. Everybody looked to him since day one. He carried himself very well.”
Friday, Flowers’ performance was critical as the Tigers squared off against Har-Ber for the conference championship. The victory earned Flowers and his senior teammates a third consecutive conference championship. The Tigers won the title outright last year and shared it in 2007.
Flowers started all 13 games during Bentonville’s championship run last year and all 10 games this season.
Flowers’ tackle stopped Har-Ber on a fourth-and-1 late in the game on Friday that sealed the win and the conference’s top playoff seed.
“The guys up front really did a good job,” Lunney said. “He filled his gap responsibility well. He played with a lot of passion. He read his keys exceptionally well. There was a lot on the line.”
Tigers Just Reload
Lunney said during the offseason that the reconstructed defense was a pleasant surprise.
“I felt like we had a chance to have a good defense,” Lunney said. “They worked real hard. To have a chance at winning a championship, you have to be good on defense.”
Bentonville recorded five shutouts this season, including three in its final four games.
Even though the Tigers lost at Fort Smith Southside, it was that game halfway through the season that showed glimpses of the greatness that awaited Bentonville’s defense.
“The offense really put thedefense in some bad situations at Southside, but we played well against Southside on defense,” Lunney said. “I was encouraged then. I didn’t think we played particularly well against Heritage (the next week), but from that point on it seemed like they played with a lot of confidence.”
During the final four games of the season, Bentonville’s defense allowed just 171 yards per game and only one touchdown.
Rogers Heritage was young and small on defense last year.
That’s not a good combination in the 7A-West.
“Last year, we were too small,” Heritage coach Perry Escalante said. “We had a good scheme and would play well for a half, but we’d just get worn down. We were giving away 40 or 50 pounds per man. A year of offseason and in the weight room has really helped.”
The difference is evident. Last year, Heritage gave up 427 points and 4,586 yards of offense. This year, the War Eagles yielded 199 points and 3,213 yards in the regular season.
“The major difference is that we’ve played really aggressive on defense,” Escalante said.
David Gates Stadium will again be active for the playoffs with Heritage hosting Little Rock Catholic for a first-round game Friday night.
Escalante admits he felt like hosting a playoff game was possible several weeks ago after his War Eagles defeated Springdale High, 64-45.
“I really started thinking about it after the Springdale game,” Escalante said. “I felt like we could win out, go 8-2 and put ourselves in position to have a playoff game at our place.”
Hosting a playoff game in just its second year of existence has to be the surprise of the state especially in the state’s largest classification and in the toughest conference.
“It is huge,” Escalante said.
“We’ve got kids in Rogers thatwant to move around. It’s a huge deal. Instead of moving to Bentonville, maybe they’ll move here.” First Round
Bentonville and Springdale Har-Ber shared the 7A-West crown this season, with Bentonville earning the top seed in the playoffs after Friday’s 17-0 win against Har-Ber. Both drew first-round byes in the playoffs.
Third-seed Heritage will host Little Rock Catholic, which already owns a pair of nonconference wins over Southside and Northside.
Fourth-seed Fayetteville will host Conway at Harmon Field.
Conway and Fayetteville were conference foes from 1972 through 1980, when Fort Smith Northside joined the conference after dropping down from the state’s largest classification.
Conway won four of nine meetings during that span.
Conway won a nonconference game in 1990, 29-0. Fayetteville won a first-round playoff game in 1996, 31-28.
Fifth-seed Southside will travel to Bryant, which defeated No. 1 Cabot, 35-7, two weeks ago to become the first team ever to mercy-rule the No. 1 in the state in the Associated Press poll.
Sixth-seed Springdale will travel to Russellville in a matchup between two of the oldest programs in the state. The two teams have combined to win 1,076 games in their histories.
This is also a game featuring former foes in the West before the Cyclones were forced to the Central conference three years ago. Springdale holds an 28-11-1 edge in the series, which dates back to the first game in 1931.
Remember When …
High school football games were part of the Armistice Day celebrations?
Armistice Day was an annual holiday that commemorated the symbolic end of World War I.
The holiday began in 1919 on the one-year anniversary of the signing of the armistice at an 11 o’clock meeting between the countries involved in the waron November 11, 1918 or “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
The date was celebrated all across the world annually. In 1938, it became a legal holiday in the United States with government offices closing. In 1954, the name was changed to Veteran’s Day to honor war veterans of World War II, and the Korean War.
High school and college football games that were played on or around November 11 of each year was proudly proclaimed as the annual Armistice Day game until the holiday’s name was changed. The annual game was generally the second biggest game of the season next to the annual Thanksgiving Day game, which was the annually played between the schools’ biggest rivals, and was a lot of the timeused for homecoming festivities as well. Teams often moved their game to Armistice Day with the cities celebrating the holiday with parades and dances. The local high school football game became an annual part of the celebration.
For example, the Armistice Day games of 1932 were played on Wednesday, November 11 with Bentonville defeating Rogers, 12-8, Springdale and Siloam Springs playing to a scoreless tie, and Van Buren downing Fayetteville, 7-0.
In 1954, the name of the holiday was officially changed to Veteran’s Day to honor war veterans of World War II and the Korean War in addition to the veterans of World War I. Today, we honor all of the veterans that have served our country in war.
Sports, Pages 10 on 11/10/2009