COURIER NEWS (Russellville)
Alma’s Reyn Beckham (14), Tres Rowland (9) and JR Edwards (42) look to stop Russellville’s Jalen Curtis during the Sept. 20 game at Cyclone Stadium. Alma hosts Clarksville to open 5A West Conference play on Friday.
photo by TAMMY HOBSON
Mountainburg’s Trey Allen carries the ball before he’s brought down at the Bulldog 15 during the Sept. 20 win at Decatur. The Dragons host Johnson County Westside Friday for the first 2A-4 Conference game at home since October 2012.
photo by GEORGE “CLAY” MITCHELL
Cedarville’s Kendall Pittman, who led the ground game with 102 yards and a touchdown, looks for extra room at Glen Wisely Stadium on Sept. 20. The Pirates open 3A-4 Conference play at Atkins on Friday.
Conference play begins for Van Buren, Alma and Cedarville, while the Dragons look to build momentum after their first win of the season.
Van Buren hosts two-time defending state champion Fayetteville at Blakemore Field for the 7A West opener. Alma has hit a two-game skid with losses to Class 6A Greenwood and Russellville, and will host 5A West foe Clarksville (1-2) at Airedale Stadium in the league opener for both teams.
Cedarville’s seniors have a 3-0 start since the team began 0-3 back in 2011. The Pirates are back on the road, this time in Pope County to take on the Atkins Red Devils, who have won two of the last three contests, to open 3A-4 Conference play.
“You can throw records out the door starting with conference because everyon is 0-0,” said Alma coach Doug Loughridge.
Fayetteville at Van Buren
The Pointers know Friday will be a showdown.
“It will be a challenge for us,” said coach Brooks Coatney. “We plan to work hard and have a good week of practice.
“We just have to come out, execute our scheme and execute in all three phases of the game.”
In last week’s 49-13 win at Little Rock Fair, Brad Eversole was 15-of-25 passing for 128 yards and one touchdown during the rain-soaked contest. Eversole also had 103 yards on eight totes and three more scores.
Tyrone Joseph added 90 yards rushing with a TD while sophomore Ethan Hudspeth added 58 yards and another score. Senior Andrew Martin had four catches for 45 yards and the touchdown as Eversole threw to seven different targets. The Pointers gained 408 yards of offense.
“I think we did a good job controlling the ball,” Coatney added. “The defense got several stops and created turnovers.”
The Purple Bulldogs escaped with a 27-22 decision at Muskogee last week.
Last season, Fayetteville won 27-13 as the Pointers struggled to reach the end zone despite of being able to move the ball against the Bulldogs.
Clarksville at Alma
The Airedales are also looking to correct their woes after suffering a two-game skid since winning the annual Battle of the Bone at Van Buren during Week 1.
“We’re very proud of our kids’ efforts coming out of non-conference play,” said Alma coach Doug Loughridge. “We have played the No. 1 and the No. 5 teams in 6A and we came out healthy. We have learned a lot about our team in the last couple of weeks. This allows us to focus on the things we we need to get corrected going into conference.”
Alma averages 3.91yards per play after the first three games, but has given up 5.6 yards per play.
Evan Burris leads the running game as quarterback with 118 yards on 52 carries and one touchdown. He has completed 43 of 69 passes for four touchdowns, two interceptions and 499 yards.
Clarksville fell to Dardanelle last week 22-15, while Alma was toppled by Russellville 17-15.
“We are expecting a strong running game from Clarksville,” Loughridge said. “They are very-well coached. Coach (Michael) Banning and I have coached against each other a lot times and he always has his teams ready and prepared. (The Panthers) have been successful running the ball and I don’t expect any change.
“Defensively, (the Panthers) fly to the football and are very good tacklers. They are sound with their scheme and make you earn every yard. We are expecting a great Friday night football game.”
Last season, Alma scored quickly and often as the Airedales built a 35-0 lead with 6:11 remaining in the third quarter to win 35-7. Gage Jensen was 20-of-28 passing for 274 yards and four touchdowns.
Cedarville at Atkins
Cedarville is expecting its four starting linebackers to return this week. Two missed homecoming last week due to an illness, the other two were sidelined because of rules infraction at the school.
“Atkins is doing really well. (The Red Devils) run the spread like we do, and from what I understand, they can score a lot of points,” said Cedarville coach Mark Shelton.
Atkins overcame a 13-12 deficit with 3:32 remaining in the game to beat Two Rivers 26-13.
Two Rivers stalled Atkins’ offense in the first half, and the Red Devils didn’t reach the scoreboard until 23 seconds remaining in the first half. Atkins capitalized on a pair of turnovers in the second half to grab the win. Both turnovers came deep in Red Devil territory.
Senior Alex Spradlin completed 21 of 27 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
The Pirates defeated Waldron 33-26 as the Bulldogs pounded Cedarville for 342 yards on the ground.
“I don’t know if we really stopped (the Bulldogs), but we found a way to get them,” coach Shelton added. “We never play well against Waldron. (The Bulldogs) just got after us.”
Casey Sanders intercepted a pass late in the game to hold off any Waldron rally.
Dylan Shelton completed 5 of 10 passes for 85 yards. He also had 10 carries for 33 yards and two TDs. Corey Fincher had 99 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Kendall Pittman had 102 yards on six carries and one score.
Last season, Cedarville rallied from a 21-7 deficit to take a 28-21 lead in the third quarter, but the Red Devils came away with the 46-31 win.
Dylan Shelton finished that came 18-of-29 passing for 223 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The contest was marred by 23 penalties for 203 yards and the ejection of a Cedarville player and assistant coach.
Johnson County Westside
The Dragons (1-2) got their first win with a road game in Decatur (1-2) and will host the Rebels (1-2) on Friday.
It will be Mountainburg’s first regular-season game at home in the past 11 months since it faced Western Yell County back on Oct. 19, 2012. The Dragons did host Des Arc in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs last season.
Mountainburg is 1-1 in the 2A-4 race and is locked in an early three-way tie for fourth with Westside and Decatur.
The Rebels are coming off a 37-6 loss to Union Christian (2-1) last week.
Mountainburg halted its four-game skid (dating back to the 26-20 playoff loss to Des Arc last season), with a 20-0 shutout at Decatur.
“We made great strides defensively last week,” said coach Tom Harrell. “I think we are finally getting some things figured out defensively. We are concentrating on being more consistent offensively and improving the passing game.”
In the last two games, quarterback Josh Skattebo has thrown 10 of 20 passes for 142 yards with one touchdown. The team is 12 of 26 passes for 188 yards.
Sophomores Samuel Copeland and Caleb Stephenson lead the running game. Stephenson has 128 yards on 30 carries and one score. Copeland has 22 carries for 115 yards and two scores. Skattebo has 77 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
Senior Will Vaught leads the receiver corps with 88 yards on three catches and one touchdown.
Last season, the Dragons defeated Westside 54-28. Mountainburg led with two early scores with its opening possession and returned an interception for another score. The Dragons led 34-14 at the break.