Friday, December 12, 2008

State Championship Reviews and Previews

Last week saw three state champions crowned, and three more will be crowned by the end of this weekend. Bentonville, Lake Hamilton, and Pulaski Academy won the 7A, 6A, and 5A titles, respectively. The 3A champ will be decided tonight, while 2A and 4A will battle it out tomorrow.

Bentonville jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they used a 17-0 halftime lead to catapult them to a 32-20 victory over Fort Smith Southside and their first state title under Head Coach Barry Lunney.

El Dorado struck first, but Lake Hamilton would score on 5 of their first 6 possessions to take a commanding 35-14 lead early in the second half. The Wildcats would claw back to cut it within 7 at 35-28 before Lake Hamilton would tack on a final touchdown for the 42-28 victory. It was Lake Hamilton's first state championship since 1992.

Pulaski Academy showed in the first half why their offense was the number one yardage offense in the country by gaining over 300 yards and a 35-12 halftime advantage. West Helena showed in the second half why they had the top defense in the state as they held the Bruins scoreless and under 100 yards. It wasn't quite enough as the Cougars cut it to 35-32 before the Bruins would run out the final 5:18 to end the game. This was Pulaski Academy's 2nd state title with their first coming in 2003 in the AAA classification (current 4A).

Shiloh Christian has been untested in 4A competition this season, but they will take on what is likely the fastest team they have seen since they defeated Warren in the 2005 quarterfinals, the Dollarway Cardinals. Shiloh's strength is on their offensive and defensive line. Dollarway's keys will be to get pressure and control the line of scrimmage on defense, and they must use their speed on offense with sweeps, screens, and quick hitters. They will also need to stretch the Shiloh secondary by using their speed and throwing deep. Shiloh will struggle early, but we think they come out on top. PREDICTION: Shiloh 35, Dollarway 22.

Fountain Lake boasts the seventh best rushing offense in the country and the ninth best scoring offense in the country, and they lead the state in both categories. Few teams have held them down with the one exception being Prescott, who lost to the Cobras in the quarterfinals, 22-21. Fountain Lake scored 88 points against 5A Lakeside earlier in the season. State Championship games are old hats for Charleston as they will play in their 3rd title game in 4 years. They are 0-for-2 thus far, and that trend will continue if they can't find a way to slow down Fountain Lake's Wing-T attack. Charleston has a great defense, but it won't be enough to charm the Cobras. PREDICTION: Fountain Lake 42, Charleston 28.

In 2A, it's Junction City, then it's everybody else. Des Arc looks to flex their muscles against the pre-season and all-season number one team, Junction City. Des Arc can score points, but the question will be how much they can hold back the Dragon offense. PREDICTION: Junction City 49, Des Arc 28.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2008 Round 3 Roundup

Playoff Week 3 was a wild one. All we can think to say is "WOW!" Two three-time defending state champions were eliminated in their quest for a fourth straight title. Two of the semi-final games were decided by an 8-7 score. What? The FINAL score was 8-7 in two different semi-final games. We thought that this was 2008 not 1908. In any case, here is a summary of last Friday's action.

7A Playoffs

Prediction: Bentonville 20, Russellville 7
Prediction: Har-Ber 31, Southside 27

Actual: Bentonville 27, Russellville 0
Actual: Southside 8, Har-Ber 7

6A Playoffs

Prediction: West Memphis 52, Lake Hamilton 35
Prediction: El Dorado 21, Watson Chapel 14

Actual: Lake Hamilton 34, West Memphis 28
Actual: El Dorado 48, Watson Chapel 22

5A Playoffs

Prediction: Pulaski Academy 57, Greenwood 56
Prediction: West Helena 42, Monticello 31

Actual: Pulaski Academy 54, Greenwood 24
Actual: West Helena 8, Monticello 7

4A Playoffs

Prediction -- Newport
Prediction -- Nashville
Prediction -- Osceola
Prediction -- Shiloh Christian

3A Playoffs
Prediction -- Cedarville
Prediction -- Mayflower
Prediction -- Lamar
Prediction -- Fountain Lake

2A Playoffs

Prediction -- Carlisle
Prediction -- Des Arc
Prediction -- Bearden
Prediction -- Junction City