Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Rex’s Rankings: After two weeks

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

We’ve made it through two of the 11 weeks on the regular-season schedule in this strangest of all years. We continue to watch the virus numbers on a week-to-week basis and hope for a full season.

There were no shocking upsets last week.

Bryant was as impressive as ever in a 57-17 victory over Marion.

North Little Rock began the J.R. Eldridge era with a 41-28 victory over Springdale Har-Ber.

The Chris Young era at Greenwood, meanwhile, began with a 42-3 victory over Fort Smith Southside.

Coaching changes don’t seem to have slowed down either North Little Rock or Greenwood.

Here are the rankings after two weeks of the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Greenwood
  6. Cabot
  7. Bentonville West
  8. Little Rock Christian
  9. Little Rock Parkview
  10. Shiloh Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Cabot
  5. Bentonville West

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. Little Rock Parkview
  3. Van Buren
  4. Lake Hamilton
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Harrison
  4. Wynne
  5. Texarkana

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Nashville
  5. Crossett

CLASS 3A

  1. Harding Academy
  2. Prescott
  3. Hoxie
  4. Newport
  5. Booneville

CLASS 2A

  1. Fordyce
  2. Gurdon
  3. Magnet Cove
  4. Junction City
  5. Des Arc

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Rex’s Rankings: After one week

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Well, we got the first week in.

It’s going to be week-to-week in this year of the virus.

If you go to a game, keep your masks on and stay socially distanced. If you don’t, the governor will pull the plug.

What did we learn?

We learned that Bryant is again going to be something special. We had Benton ranked first in Class 6A coming into the game, but the Hornets made the Panthers look like a Class 2A squad en route to a 48-7 victory. Bryant is 13-0-1 in the Salt Bowl since 2006. Buck James is 5-0 as a coach in the series.

Pulaski Academy won a 48-34 against Joe T. Robinson in a shootout between the defending Class 5A and Class 4A state champions. Both teams are going to be good again.

And keep an eye on Conway in Class 7A. The Wampus Cats were impressive in a 38-21 victory over a quality Fayetteville squad.

Here are the updated rankings after one week of the regular season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Greenwood
  6. Cabot
  7. West Memphis
  8. Conway
  9. Little Rock Christian
  10. Shiloh Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Cabot
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. West Memphis
  3. Jonesboro
  4. Little Rock Parkview
  5. Benton

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Harrison
  4. Wynne
  5. Texarkana

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Joe T. Robinson
  3. Warren
  4. Ozark
  5. Arkadelphia

CLASS 3A

  1. Harding Academy
  2. Prescott
  3. Newport
  4. Hoxie
  5. Rison

CLASS 2A

  1. Fordyce
  2. Gurdon
  3. Magnet Cove
  4. Junction City
  5. McCrory

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Rex’s Rankings: The season begins

Friday, August 28th, 2020

It’s going to be an adventure with the pandemic still raging. Coaches and players are taking it week to week.

And so will we as the high school season begins with games this weekend.

In a year like no other, here are our rankings going into the season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Benton
  5. Pulaski Academy
  6. Greenwood
  7. Bentonville West
  8. Cabot
  9. West Memphis
  10. Little Rock Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. North Little Rock
  3. Bentonville
  4. Bentonville West
  5. Cabot

CLASS 6A

  1. Benton
  2. Greenwood
  3. West Memphis
  4. Jonesboro
  5. Little Rock Parkview

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Harrison
  4. Texarkana
  5. Wynne

CLASS 4A

  1. Joe T. Robinson
  2. Shiloh Christian
  3. Nashville
  4. Warren
  5. Ozark

CLASS 3A

  1. Harding Academy
  2. Prescott
  3. Osceola
  4. Rison
  5. Newport

CLASS 2A

  1. Junction City
  2. Gurdon
  3. Fordyce
  4. Foreman
  5. Magnet Cove

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College football: The final edition

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

This will be the final time we pick college football outcomes this season.

We went 5-1 last Saturday to improve our record to 76-22 for the season.

In a state obsessed by the Hog, there hasn’t been enough media attention devoted to the fact that this has been a very good season for most college programs in the state.

Arkansas State won its fourth consecutive game last Saturday, will likely beat South Alabama this week to finish the regular season 8-4 and will head to a bowl game for a ninth consecutive year.

UCA wrapped up a share of the Southland Conference title with a win over Incarnate Word last Friday night in San Antonio, finished the regular season 9-3 and is headed to the FCS playoffs.

UAPB had its first winning season since 2012. The 6-5 record in Cedric Thomas’ second year as head coach represented a marked improvement over last year’s 2-9 campaign.

Ouachita had an undefeated regular season for a second consecutive year, won its third consecutive Great American Conference title, made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a third consecutive year and finished 11-1.

Harding made it to the NCAA Division II playoffs for a fourth consecutive year and finished 10-2.

Henderson finished the regular season 9-2 and will play in a bowl game at Texarkana on Dec. 7.

Southern Arkansas finished the regular season 8-3 and will play in a bowl game in Corsicana, Texas, on Dec. 7.

Hendrix, the state’s only NCAA Division III program, finished 7-3.

Lyon, the state’s only NAIA program, also finished 7-3.

Here are the picks for this week’s games:

Missouri 29, Arkansas 27 — This is actually a winnable game for Arkansas as this worst of Razorback seasons comes to a merciful conclusion. Missouri is 5-6 overall and 2-5 in the Southeastern Conference with five consecutive losses. Those losses have been by scores of 21-14 to Vanderbilt (yes, Vanderbilt!), 29-7 to Kentucky, 27-0 to Georgia, 23-6 to Florida and 24-20 to Tennessee. Expect Arkansas’ players to compete hard for Barry Lunney Jr. And there will even be a decent crowd at War Memorial Stadium on Friday to show support for Lunney if it’s not raining hard. It’s time to get this season over with and focus on the coaching search.

Arkansas State 31, South Alabama 21 — It wasn’t easy, but the Red Wolves held on for a 38-33 victory over Georgia Southern last Saturday in Jonesboro. Things looked bad on that Thursday night in October when ASU fell to 3-4 following a 37-20 loss at home to Louisiana-Lafayette. But the Red Wolves have responded with wins over Texas State (38-14), Louisiana-Monroe (48-41), Coastal Carolina (28-27) and Georgia Southern. With former UCA head coach Steve Campbell at the helm, South Alabama has struggled to a 1-10 record. The lone victory was by a score of 37-14 over Jackson State from the SWAC way back on Sept. 7. The losses have been by scores of 35-21 to Nebraska, 42-6 to Memphis, 35-3 to Alabama-Birmingham, 30-17 to Louisiana-Monroe, 20-17 to Georgia Southern, 37-13 to Troy, 30-3 to Appalachian State, 30-28 to Texas State, 37-27 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 28-15 to Georgia State. Don’t expect many fans to be on hand for a Friday afternoon game in Mobile.

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Rex’s Rankings: The end is near

Monday, November 25th, 2019

It’s not the end of the high school football season, but you can see it from here.

There’s a slate of playoff games this Friday, and then I’ll be camped out at War Memorial Stadium the first two weekends in December to watch the six state championship games.

This is, however, our final ranking of the season. I like to let the teams do all the talking on the field once we reach this point.

There will still be upsets, but here’s what I’m predicting right now for those six title games:

Class 7A — It will be the game we’ve been hoping for; undefeated Bryant against undefeated Bentonville.

Class 6A — Greenwood and Benton will play in a rematch of their regular-season game, which saw the Panthers upset Greenwood.

Class 5A — It will be a rematch of the best game of the regular season; Pulaski Academy vs. Little Rock Christian.

Class 4A — This will be a rematch not only of a great game during the regular season but also of last year’s championship bout; Arkadelphia vs. Joe T. Robinson.

Class 3A — Prescott vs. Rison.

Class 2A — Junction City vs. Hazen

Here are the updated rankings:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. Little Rock Christian
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Benton
  6. Greenwood
  7. Searcy
  8. North Little Rock
  9. Shiloh Christian
  10. Bentonville West

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Bentonville West
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Benton
  2. Greenwood
  3. Searcy
  4. West Memphis
  5. Lake Hamilton

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. Morrilton
  4. White Hall
  5. Harrison

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Arkadelphia
  3. Robinson
  4. Nashville
  5. Ozark

CLASS 3A

  1. Rison
  2. Prescott
  3. Osceola
  4. Harding Academy
  5. McGehee

CLASS 2A

  1. Junction City
  2. Des Arc
  3. Hazen
  4. Fordyce
  5. Gurdon

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College football: Week 13

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

The question as the University of Arkansas football team heads to Baton Rouge to take on the No. 1 team in the nation this week is this: Just how bad will it be?

The expectation of Arkansas fans in this first game of the post-Chad Morris era is that the team will play harder for Barry Lunney Jr. than it did for Morris. That’s really all they can hope for at this point.

My real hope is that people will show up at War Memorial Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving to support Lunney, an Arkansan through and through. On a day when many Americans take off work and watch college football, we don’t want a CBS national telecast to show thousands of empty seats. It’s time to show some Arkansas pride.

A large crowd for what I believe is a winnable game against Missouri would not only show support for the interim head coach but would also be a nice tribute to the legacy of his father, Barry Lunney Sr., who was a high school coaching legend. If the weather is decent, I believe there will be an additional 10,000 to 15,000 people at War Memorial Stadium who wouldn’t have attended had Morris still been the coach.

Lunney Sr. went 248-90-1 during 28 seasons as a high school head coach. He led Fort Smith Southside to state titles in 1991, 1992, 1997 and 2002 and then won state championships at Bentonville in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014. He retired from coaching following the 2014 season.

Lunney Jr. has fond memories of attending Razorback games with a grandfather who lettered at the school from 1946-49. Lunney Jr. lettered as a Razorback from 1992-95, starting 40 games at quarterback. He was a captain on the 1995 squad that played in the SEC championship game for the first time in school history.

Lunney Jr. also played baseball at Arkansas. He spent one season playing minor league baseball in the Minnesota Twins’ organization. He then decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, coaching for two seasons as a graduate assistant at Arkansas and then going to Tulsa. That was followed by two seasons at San Jose State before a return home to serve as offensive coordinator for his father at Bentonville from 2005-13. He became a Razorback assistant coach in 2014.

Playing off the fact that the day of the game against Missouri is the traditional first day of the Christmas shopping season known as Black Friday, central Arkansas civic leaders have proclaimed it Red Friday. They say the tailgating scene will be better than ever with food trucks, games and live music. Complimentary shuttles will operate between the River Market District and the stadium. They’re also promoting events that evening in the River Market District, where those ages 21 and over can now carry alcoholic beverages on the street from 5 p.m. until midnight.

In an attempt to convince fans from across the state to spend a couple of nights in Little Rock, there’s also a coordinated effort to promote Christmas shopping on Saturday, dining options throughout the city that night and brunch on Sunday.

We were a perfect 5-0 on the picks last week, making the record 71-21 for the season.

Here are the picks for Week 13 of the college football season:

LSU 49, Arkansas 19 — Let’s be honest. The Tigers can pretty much name the score in this one. It’s probably a matter of how long LSU head coach Ed Orgeron chooses to play his starting quarterback, Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy favorite is averaging 368.7 passing yards per game for LSU (10-0, 6-0). In last Saturday’s 58-37 win at Ole Miss (4-7, 2-5), Burrow threw for 489 yards and five touchdowns.

Arkansas State 30, Georgia Southern 28 — The Red Wolves played a sloppy game for most of the afternoon last Saturday in Jonesboro and then came alive on a late drive led by redshirt freshman quarterback Layne Hatcher to beat Coastal Carolina by a point, 28-27. With a record of 6-4 overall (4-2 in Sun Belt Conference play), the Red Wolves are bowl eligible for a ninth consecutive season. Hatcher passed 21 yards to Kirk Merritt with 32 seconds left for the winning touchdown. Hatcher was 24 of 35 passing for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Expect another close game in Jonesboro this Saturday afternoon. Georgia Southern is 6-4 with wins of 26-18 over Maine, 20-17 in two overtimes over South Alabama, 30-27 in three overtimes over Coastal Carolina, 41-7 over New Mexico State, 24-21 over a ranked Appalachian State team and 51-29 over Louisiana-Monroe. The losses have been by scores of 55-3 to LSU, 35-32 to what has turned out to be a very good Minnesota team, 37-24 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 49-28 to Troy.

UCA 34, Incarnate Word 26 — The Bears remained in a tie for the Southland Conference lead with a 30-7 victory over Stephen F. Austin last Saturday afternoon in Conway. UCA is 8-3 overall and 6-2 in conference play. The Bears are tied with Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls State for the conference lead. In the win over Stephen F. Austin, UCA rushed for a season-high 263 yards. The Bears can earn at least a share of the conference crown with a win Friday night (that’s right, it’s a rare Friday night college game) in San Antonio against an Incarnate Word team that’s 5-6 overall and 4-4 in conference following four consecutive losses. The Incarnate Word victories have come by scores of 66-44 over Texas Southern, 31-24 over Abilene Christian, 38-36 over Houston Baptist, 27-21 over Southeastern Louisiana and 35-17 over Lamar. The losses have been by scores of 35-7 to Texas-San Antonio, 45-6 to Sam Houston State, 44-41 to Northwestern State of Louisiana, 27-23 to Nicholls State, 31-24 to Stephen F. Austin and 41-28 to New Mexico State.

UAPB 25, Texas Southern 10 — The Golden Lions have several things in their favor going into the final game of the season. They’re home, they’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game and their opponent is 0-10. A victory in Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon would give the Golden Lions a final record of 6-5, a vast improvement over last year’s 2-9 campaign. UAPB hasn’t had a winning season since 2012 when the school finished 10-2 and beat Jackson State in overtime in the SWAC championship game. The Golden Lions went 13-53 during the next six seasons. The Texas Southern losses have been by scores of 44-23 to Prairie View A&M, 63-44 to Incarnate Word, 77-6 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 68-31 to Houston Baptist, 35-28 to Alabama A&M, 23-20 to Missouri S&T, 28-21 to Southern University, 35-14 to Mississippi Valley State, 55-20 to Grambling and 27-21 to Alabama State.

Ouachita 31, Lindenwood 23 — It was a Battle of the Ravine for the ages. Henderson came in 9-1 and ranked No. 20 in the country in NCAA Division II. Ouachita came in 10-0 and ranked No. 5. Henderson jumped out to a 14-0 lead before an overflow crowd at Cliff Harris Stadium and was driving to make it 21-0 when Ouachita senior Keandre Evans from Junction City came up with an interception that turned the tide. Ouachita was trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter when Henderson recovered a fumble at the Ouachita 41. The Reddies covered that distance in eight plays to take a 21-17 lead with just 1:44 remaining in the game. Ouachita then drove 74 yards with the clock running out. The winning score came on a one-yard run by senior Brockton Brown from Sheridan with 33 seconds remaining and no time outs left. With the 24-21 victory, Ouachita won its third consecutive undisputed Great American Conference title. It’s the second consecutive undefeated regular season for Ouachita, which extended its conference winning streak to 27 games. The Tigers are back home at Cliff Harris Stadium on Saturday afternoon against a Lindenwood team from the St. Louis area that’s 8-3. The Lions started 1-3 before running off seven consecutive victories over McKendree, Truman State, Saginaw Valley State, Quincy, the University of Indianapolis, Missouri S&T and Southwest Baptist.

Northwest Missouri State 35, Harding 32 — The headline on the GAC preview story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Aug. 25 was “GAC opener might decide who stands tall in end.” That was the case as Ouachita beat Harding by a final score of 16-14 on Sept. 5 with a late field goal by a true freshman. Ouachita finished the regular season 11-0, and Harding finished 10-1. Harding won its 10th consecutive game last Saturday by a final score of 49-14 over 3-8 Arkansas Tech. The Bisons led 21-0 at halftime and finished with 406 yards rushing. That’s the sixth consecutive game in which the Bisons have rushed for more than 400 yards. Harding will hit the road to take on traditional powerhouse Northwest Missouri State, which has won six Division II national championships. It’s the school’s 16th consecutive playoff appearance and its 24th overall. Northwest Missouri beat Harding 35-0 in the playoffs in 2012 and 2016. Expect it to be a lot closer this time around. ┬áThis is a talented Harding team. Northwest Missouri is also 10-1 with its lone loss having come by a final score of 24-17 to Nebraska-Kearney. Nine of its 10 victories have been by double-digit margins.

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Rex’s Rankings: The playoffs continue

Monday, November 18th, 2019

Let’s be honest about the first week of the high school playoffs: There aren’t many good games.

Too many top teams have byes, and too many high-seeded teams blow out lower seeds.

There were a couple of high-scoring games decided by one point last Friday night, but for the most part blowouts were the order of the day.

It gets a lot more interesting this week.

In Class 7A, I still think we’ll see a Bryant-Bentonville game decide the state championship. But upsets happen.

In Class 6A, I would love to see Benton and Greenwood play each other again.

By the same token, I would like to see a Little Rock Christian-Pulaski Academy rematch in Class 5A.

I don’t know if we’ll get those rematches or not. I do know that the game of the week is Pulaski Academy at Harrison and that Harrison has the talent to win the game.

Here are the rankings after one week of the playoffs:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. Little Rock Christian
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Harrison
  6. Benton
  7. Greenwood
  8. Searcy
  9. North Little Rock
  10. Shiloh Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Springdale Har-Ber
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Benton
  2. Greenwood
  3. Searcy
  4. Lake Hamilton
  5. West Memphis

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. Harrison
  4. Morrilton
  5. Wynne

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Arkadelphia
  3. Joe T. Robinson
  4. Nashville
  5. Warren

CLASS 3A

  1. Rison
  2. Prescott
  3. Osceola
  4. Harding Academy
  5. McGehee

CLASS 2A

  1. Junction City
  2. Foreman
  3. Des Arc
  4. Hazen
  5. Fordyce

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College football: Battle of the Ravine

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Tired of what’s going on in Fayetteville?

The perfect antidote to that long-running soap opera can be found in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon when one of the great traditions in American sports takes place.

The Battle of the Ravine should be on every Arkansan’s bucket list. It’s the only game in college football where the visitors walk to a road game. State troopers will halt traffic Saturday morning on U.S. Highway 67, and Henderson State University players will walk across to play at Ouachita Baptist University’s Cliff Harris Stadium.

The game will kick off at 1:05 p.m. At about 4 p.m., the troopers will stop traffic again, and the Reddies will walk back home.

It looks as if the weather will be perfect for college football with sunshine and temperatures in the high 50s.

Ouachita is 10-0 and ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II.

Henderson is 9-1 and ranked No. 20 in the country.

What’s always a big game is even bigger than usual. Sports Illustrated, in fact, already has a writer and photographer in Arkadelphia.

Those who have played in these games, coached in them, covered them as journalists or watched from the stands know that there are few things quite like this game between four-year schools that are within walking distance of each other.

After all these decades, the series is tied 43-43-6.

We were a mediocre 4-3 on the picks last week (having foolishly picked the Hogs against Western Kentucky) to make the record 66-21 for the season.

Let’s get to the picks for this 12th week of the college football season:

Ouachita 29, Henderson 23 — Ouachita has already secured a share of its third consecutive Great American Conference championship. The Tigers have won 26 consecutive GAC games, a streak that dates back more than two years. Henderson would like to end that streak and, in the process, earn a share of the conference title and a spot in the NCAA Division II playoffs. With a loss, a 9-2 Reddie team is most likely headed to a minor bowl game with Ouachita and Harding being the only playoff representatives. Ouachita has won the past three games in this rivalry, but Henderson has found new weapons after having fallen to an overall record of 12-12 the previous two seasons. Ouachita will attempt to get its rushing attack going early and limit the number of Henderson possessions with long, time-consuming drives. This game will rest on Henderson’s ability to stop the Ouachita ground game.

Arkansas State 31, Coastal Carolina 22 — The 5-4 Red Wolves have had two weeks to prepare for this game and are at home in Jonesboro on Saturday afternoon. ASU has won two consecutive games, 38-14 over Texas State on Oct. 26 and 48-41 over Louisiana-Monroe on Nov. 2. Coastal Carolina is 4-5 with an upset 12-7 victory over Kansas, a 46-7 win over Norfolk State, a 62-28 victory over Massachusetts and a 36-35 win over Troy. The losses have been by scores of 30-23 to Eastern Michigan, 56-37 to Appalachian State, 31-21 to Georgia State, 30-27 in three overtimes to Georgia Southern and 48-7 to Louisiana-Lafayette.

UCA 35, Stephen F. Austin 20 — The 7-3 Bears laid a huge egg in Conway last Saturday, falling 34-0 to Southeastern Louisiana. Quarterback Cole Kelley (remember him?) accounted for 312 yards and five touchdowns against a hapless Bear defense. It was the first time a Bear team had been shut out since 1995. No UCA team had been shut out in Conway since 1986. Still, though, the Bears are tied atop the Southland Conference standings with Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State and Sam Houston State. The good news is that a bad Stephen F. Austin team comes to Conway this Saturday afternoon. The Lumberjacks are 2-8 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The two wins were by scores of 24-17 over Lamar and 31-24 over Incarnate Word. The losses have been by scores of 56-16 to Baylor, 37-26 to Tarleton State (a Division II school), 45-38 to Southern Utah, 48-30 to Nicholls State, 31-20 to Sam Houston State, 31-24 to Abilene Christian, 33-10 to McNeese State and 47-30 to Southeastern Louisiana.

Harding 40, Arkansas Tech 25 — The Bisons lost their season opener 16-14 to Ouachita and have since run off nine consecutive victories. Still, they have to hope for a Henderson win over Ouachita to gain a share of the conference title. Since the conference was formed in 2011, Ouachita has won five titles, Henderson has won three and Harding has won one. The Bisons posted a 35-14 victory over 1-9 Southeastern Oklahoma last week as Harding rushed for 462 yards on 57 running plays. Tech fell to 3-7 with a 31-30 loss to 2-8 East Central Oklahoma. With a victory, Harding will ensure itself a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Southern Arkansas 39, UAM 24 — Both of these teams came to Arkadelphia and lost last Saturday. UAM fell 35-7 to Ouachita. Henderson scored in the final minute to beat Southern Arkansas by a score of 38-31. The Muleriders come in as the favorite with a 7-3 record, but the 5-5 Boll Weevils have been competitive in most games this season and are looking to secure their second consecutive winning season.

 

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Rex’s Rankings: The playoffs begin

Monday, November 11th, 2019

The regular season has ended, and it’s time for the high school football playoffs to begin in Arkansas.

These next five weeks should be fun.

In Class 7A, I think we’ll see Bryant and Bentonville in the finals at War Memorial Stadium. Teams that could get hot at the right time and make it to the final game are North Little Rock, Springdale Har-Ber and Conway.

In Class 6A, the state champion likely will be one of three teams — Benton, Greenwood or Searcy. If there’s a big upset along the way, either Lake Hamilton, West Memphis or Marion will be the team to pull the upset.

In Class 5A, everyone is looking forward to a Pulaski Academy-Little Rock Christian rematch. Harrison has the ability to mess up those plans with a victory over Pulaski Academy in the second round.

In Class 4A, I think the champion will be either Shiloh Christian or one of three teams from the same conference — Arkadelphia (which has won the past two state titles), Joe T. Robinson or Nashville.

Class 3A is wide open with Rison, Prescott, Osceola, Harding Academy, McGehee, Camden Harmony Grove and Booneville all capable of making deep runs.

Class 2A is also wide open with Junction City, Foreman, Des Arc, Hazen, Fordyce and Magnet Cove all having the talent needed to win a state title.

Here are the updated rankings as the playoffs begin:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. Little Rock Christian
  4. Pulaski Academy
  5. Harrison
  6. Benton
  7. Greenwood
  8. Searcy
  9. North Little Rock
  10. Shiloh Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Bentonville
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Springdale Har-Ber
  5. Conway

CLASS 6A

  1. Benton
  2. Greenwood
  3. Searcy
  4. Marion
  5. Lake Hamilton

CLASS 5A

  1. Little Rock Christian
  2. Pulaski Academy
  3. Harrison
  4. Valley View
  5. Maumelle

CLASS 4A

  1. Shiloh Christian
  2. Arkadelphia
  3. Joe T. Robinson
  4. Nashville
  5. Warren

CLASS 3A

  1. Rison
  2. Prescott
  3. Osceola
  4. Harding Academy
  5. McGehee

CLASS 2A

  1. Junction City
  2. Foreman
  3. Des Arc
  4. Hazen
  5. Fordyce

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College football: Week 11

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Arkansas’ opponent in Fayetteville this Saturday is Western Kentucky.

Is this the week that the Razorbacks finally get another victory?

If Arkansas loses, does that force the administration to fire Chad Morris before the weekend is over?

So many questions, so little interest.

The crowds keep getting smaller and smaller as Arkansans focus on other fall activities.

I’m far more focused, for example, on the other teams in the state. There’s a lot of good football being played out there. UCA is up to No. 6 in the FCS poll, and three of the state’s six Division II teams (Ouachita, Harding and Henderson) are nationally ranked.

A number of Arkansans actually went so far as to predict a Razorback victory last week over a struggling Mississippi State squad. Silly optimists.

I picked the Bulldogs, but even I didn’t believe it would be a 30-point margin. Each time you think the Arkansas program has hit rock bottom, the hole gets deeper.

At 2-7 overall and 0-6 in the Southeastern Conference, Arkansas has now lost 17 consecutive SEC games. Morris is 0-14 against SEC opponents. Morris-coached teams have lost by 30 or more points seven times since the start of the 2018 season.

Last Saturday, the Bulldogs had 640 yards of offense, including 460 rushing yards. Both were school records against SEC opponents.

Joe Moorhead is on the hot seat at Starkville. Too bad he can’t play Arkansas every week. He’s 2-0 against the Razorbacks, having won by a combined score of 106-30.

In the past three games, Arkansas has been outscored 153-41.

We were 6-2 on the picks last week, making the season record 62-18.

Here are the selections for Week 11 of the college football season:

Arkansas 41, Western Kentucky 39 — Yes, Western Kentucky lost to Central Arkansas by a final score of 35-28 in the season opener. But when you consider the depths to which the Arkansas program has fallen, you realize that this is indeed a game the Hogs could lose. Western Kentucky has a 5-4 record. The five wins have been by scores of 20-14 over Florida International, 20-13 over Alabama-Birmingham, 20-3 over Old Dominion, 17-8 over Army and 30-14 over Charlotte. In addition to the UCA loss, WKU has fallen 38-21 to Louisville, 26-23 to Marshall and 35-24 to Florida Atlantic.

UCA 30, Southeastern Louisiana 27 — The Bears remain alone atop the Southland Conference standings. They’re 7-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play following a 45-17 victory at Lamar (4-5, 2-4). UCA jumped to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, led 31-10 at the half and never looked back. Breylin Smith was 30 of 37 passing for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Tyler Hudson had six receptions for 120 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears host a decent Southeastern Louisiana squad in Conway this Saturday afternoon. The Lions are 5-3 overall and 4-2 in conference play. They’ve won two consecutive games and will give the Bears all they can handle. The five victories have been by scores of 35-14 over Jacksonville State, 45-34 over Lamar, 44-27 over Northwestern State of Louisiana, 52-13 over Houston Baptist and 47-30 over Stephen F. Austin. The three losses have been by scores of 40-29 to Ole Miss, 38-34 to McNeese and 27-21 to Incarnate Word. As you can see, Southeastern is just two scores away from being undefeated in the conference.

Prairie View A&M 24, UAPB 21 — The Golden Lions lost their second consecutive game to fall to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in SWAC play. Jackson State won 21-12 in Jackson to improve to 4-5 and 3-1. The Golden Lions just never could get their offense going. They had only 69 yards of offense in the first half and 299 yards for the game. UAPB goes on the road this week for an afternoon game against a Prairie View A&M team that’s 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the SWAC. The wins have been by scores of 44-23 over Texas Southern, 42-36 over Grambling and 51-0 over Virginia-Lynchburg. The losses have been by scores of 37-17 to Houston, 42-35 to Nicholls State, 45-41 to Alcorn State, 34-28 to Southern University and 38-35 to Jackson State. In a game that easily could go either way, we’ll give a slight advantage to the home team.

Ouachita 31, UAM 19 — Ouachita remains the only undefeated college team in the state at 9-0. The Tigers, ranked No. 5 nationally in NCAA Division II, have won 25 consecutive Great American Conference games and can earn at least a share of their third consecutive GAC title with a victory Saturday in Arkadelphia. Ouachita jumped out to a 21-0 lead and wound up beating a talented Southern Arkansas squad by a final score of 38-21 in the Murphy USA Classic at El Dorado last Saturday afternoon. SAU is 7-2. Ouachita had 314 rushing yards on 49 carries. Senior Brockton Brown from Sheridan led the way with 149 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the GAC with 17 rushing touchdowns. UAM is 5-4, has talent and will give the Tigers a battle at Cliff Harris Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Henderson 32, Southern Arkansas 26 — The Reddies improved to 8-1 last Saturday with a 27-20 victory at UAM. It was the fifth win in a row for Henderson following a one-point loss to Harding. The Boll Weevils gave the Reddies all they wanted, outgaining Henderson 438-375. The Reddies are home in Arkadelphia this week, but they can’t afford to be looking ahead to the following week’s Battle of the Ravine against Ouachita. If they do, the Muleriders will make them pay.

Harding 59, Southeastern Oklahoma 18 — The Bisons have won eight consecutive games since a 16-14 loss to Ouachita in the season opener at Arkadelphia. Harding beat 1-8 East Central Oklahoma by a final score of 56-20 last Saturday. Harding had 558 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground with 341 of those yards coming in the first half. Expect a similar rout this week as the Bisons go on the road to play 1-8 Southeastern Oklahoma.

Arkansas Tech 25, East Central Oklahoma 22 — After starting the season 0-6, the Wonder Boys have won three consecutive games. Tech defeated Southeastern Oklahoma by a final score of 38-20 in Russellville last Saturday as junior quarterback Carter Burcham threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns. The Wonder Boys should have enough momentum now to take care of East Central Oklahoma on the road in Ada this Saturday afternoon.

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