photo by TAMMY HOBSON
Mountainburg’s Willis Vaught goes in for the 17-yard touchdown reception in the 28-18 non-conference loss to Pocola (Okla.) Friday night at Dragon Field. The Dragons host Rison for the first round of the Class 2A playoffs this week.
Football continues for at least one more week.
Alma is hosting its first playoff game in eight years and Mountainburg looks to turn around a two-game loss string to face Rison at home.
Beebe at Alma
Since the start of 5A West play this season, coach Doug Loughridge and the rest of the coaching staff have installed the idea that each game during the regular season is a playoff game.
It has paid off, as Alma went undefeated in 5A West play and will host the first round.
“We expect our guys to approach this week with a business-as-usual attitude. Our preparation for this week will be no different than preparing for any other opponent,” said Loughridge. “We’ll keep the same schedule and format for the week as we have in the regular season.”
Alma’s seniors are no strangers to post-season play, but this is the first time since 2005 the Airedales are at home. Alma began it’s current post-season run back in 2008 and is 2-5, all games played on the road.
If Alma continues to win, they’ll be home for the entire duration of the playoffs.
“Our seniors know that we are only guaranteed one game in the playoffs. Everything else is a bonus,” Loughridge said. “Our guys do a great job each week in their preparation and focus on the task at hand.”
Beebe (5-5) was towards the top of the 5A East, but dropped to the No. 4 seed after losses to Nettleton (5-5) and Batesville (9-1) by a combined 50 points in the final two weeks of the season. Batesville rushed for 370 yards against Beebe.
The Badgers utilize sophomore Tripp Smith, who has rushed for more than 1,700 yards this season.
“Beebe is a physical team that runs the ball right at you,” said Loughridge. The Badgers “have big, strong kids and their philosophy is to use a ball-control offense and to limit your possessions.
“They play sound physical defense. They run to the ball every well and are great tacklers. We are expecting a great Arkansas high school playoff atmosphere on Friday night.”
Last week Alma senior Malachi White ran for three touchdowns and finished with 28 carries for 144 yards. White has rushed for 906 yards this season and 13 TDs.
Alma’s offense gained 337 yards while the defense held Shiloh Christian to 228.
Senior and two-time all-state pick Alex Burris continues to pace defense as he made nine stops for 109 tackles on the season. Junior Curtis Lloyd had eight tackles, and seniors Brooks Langdon and Junior Edwards had seven and six stops on defense respectively. Edwards is second on the defensive list with 62 tackles this season.
Rison at Mountainburg
“Rison is an excellent football team, that finished third in the toughest conference in the state,” said coach Tom Harrell. The Wildcats “would have finished first in most any other conference.”
Mountainburg ended the regular season with a 28-18 loss to Pocola (Okla.) in a non-conference game. The game was tied 0-0 at halftime with 32 points scored in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Clayton Stephenson had two touchdown runs for Mountainburg. The first was a two-yard run with 9:37 remaining in the third. Stephenson also added another two-yard run in the fourth.
Freshman quarterback Quency Pixley threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Willis Vaught.
Pixley, saw some playing time back in Week 9, will have the start as senior Josh Skattebo is out for the duration of the season. Pixley, is the son of Bobby Pixley, who was a two-time all-state selection as quarterback for Harrell back in the 1990s.
Pixley helped the junior high finish the season 8-1. He has thrown for 15 touchdowns and rushed for four more. Through five games (where stats were provided) Pixley completed 33 of 54 passes for 570 yards.
“We are very fortunate to have this game at our place. We have to prepare well and play well,” Harrell said. “Rison’s offense is quick-hitting, unlike most of the other offenses we’ve seen this year.”
Rison, No. 8 in this week’s Hootens.com poll, has played four games that were decided on the final possession, and the Wildcats won at Strong, 30-24, and Hampton, 41-33, with four-quarter scoring drives.
Rison’s senior quarterback Nathan Wilson rushed for 97 yards and three scores to beat Hampton and became Rison’s career rushing attempts leader (324) for a quarterback. Wilson has rushed for 1,445 career yards. The Wildcats gave up 276 passing yards and three touchdown passes to Hampton.