PEARCY, Ark. – Lake Hamilton’s task is not enviable this Friday, but then neither is the Greenwood Bulldogs.
The top-ranked and unbeaten Bulldogs (9-0, 5-0) play at second-ranked Lake Hamilton (8-0, 5-0) for the 6A West championship and top seed going into next week’s playoffs.
Greenwood is a double-digit favorite, having never lost to the Wolves in four previous meetings. It appears an offensive shootout would be in the cards with the Bulldogs averaging more than 40 points per game. Lake Hamilton’s numbers have been similar, but the two teams are dramatically different when on the attack. Greenwood has won nine state titles since 2000.
“Greenwood is a very talented team, and they’ve been that way for several years,” said Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran. “Their head coach (Chris Young) does a great job of calling plays, and is always doing special things with his kids.”
Greenwood coach reloads at quarterback
Young reloaded at quarterback this season with senior L.D. Richmond, who can beat you with his arm, or his legs. Last week he completed 13 of 16 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns in a 50-29 win over Van Buren. Richmond has a stable of outstanding receivers in seniors Camden Carter, Jase Strozier, Peyton Carter and Luke Brewer. Senior Hunter Wilkerson is one of the better running backs in 6A. He had 178 yards and three touchdowns against Van Buren.
“Don’t forget their offensive line,” said Gilleran. “They’re big, and very good.
“We run the football, which should helps us out. We’ve got to be able to move the ball on them. I think we’ve got three pretty good backs (Owen Miller, Tevin Woodley and Kendrick Martin), too. Our quarterback (Grant Bearden) has been getting better every week. He passed for a season-best 118 yards against Benton last week. We’ll use some of that similar stuff this week.”
Wolves’ Gilleran expecting a shootout
Gilleran expects a shootout. He suspects the ball will be moving back-and-forth. Somewhere during the game Lake Hamilton must make some stops.
“Overall, we’ve got to play well; I like some of the matchups with what we do,” he said. “Greenwood likes to run a 3-4 on defense, but in past games with us they’ve used a 5-2 and 6-2. I don’t know what they’re going to do. We’re preparing for what they’ve done in the past. We’re going to try to do a better job of managing the game — things that are better for our kids.”
That’s even if that means being satisfied with three and four-yard runs all night.
You can bet the Wolves will have runs longer than four yards. Woodley is averaging 8.7 yards per carry with 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns. Miller is averaging 8.0 yards with 1,169 yards and 15 TDs. Sophomore Kendrick Martin has to play defense, so his carries are limited. He’s averaging 8.9 per tote with 492 yards and five TDs.
The kicking game will be a big factor according to Gilleran. Junior Alex Hurtz has been excellent this fall with 38 PATs and five field goals.
The key will be ball-control, scoring touchdowns, and getting some stops on defense. Don’t expect a low-scoring game.
This week’s regional schedule:
Hot Springs (3-3) at HS LAKESIDE (5-3) – It’s easy to vision a shootout in this game. However, the Trojans have not played in three weeks. Going with the Rams, 31-28.
ARKADELPHIA (6-0) at Malvern (4-5) – Badgers are a legitimate contender in 5A if they stay healthy. Arkadelphia wins this one, 28-13.
Fountain Lake (4-3) at ASHDOWN (6-3) – Expect the Panthers’ speed to be the determining factor in this matchup, 34-14.
NASHVILLE (6-2) at Bauxite (3-6) – Scrapper have never lost to Bauxite. The streak continues, 45-14.
CENTERPOINT (5-3) at Bismarck (3-6) – Sound the air raid alarm. Looking for both teams to fill the air with footballs. Knights continue impressive season, 40-21.
GURDON (7-1) at Cutter Morning Star (0-9) – Go-Devils looking ahead to a possible state championship. They roll, 54-6.
TEXARKANA (5-0) at De Queen (0-9) – See comment above. Razorbacks eye long run in 5A playoffs after beating Leopards, 45-0.
DIERKS (7-1) at Lafayette County (1-6) – Outlaws got a wakeup call last week, and roll this Friday, 28-6.
FOREMAN (3-5) at Mineral Springs (3-6) – Hornets can be dangerous on offense, but Gators’ defense wins this game, 26-20.
PRESCOTT (7-0) at Glen Rose (8-1) – Records can be deceiving. The Curley Wolves prevails, 34-14.