Archive for October, 2013

Nov. 21: A celebration of Arkansas’ food culture

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

WHO: Those who love Arkansas food and the state’s unique food culture.

WHAT: A gala to celebrate Arkansas foodways.

WHERE: The Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21.

WHY: To raise money for the Arkansas exhibit at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Tickets are $125 each. Food and wine stations will feature special pairings of Arkansas fare with Presqu’ile wines. Presqu’ile is a California vineyard with Arkansas roots. For more information, call (501) 661-9911 or email morris.leslie@sbcglobal.net.

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On Saturday, Arkansas food expert Kat Robinson, whose latest book is “Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley,” will speak at the SoFAB Institute’s new culinary library and archive in New Orleans.

Thanks, Kat, for spreading the great story of Arkansas cuisine to the Crescent City and beyond.

The library and archive officially opened Wednesday.

Here’s how the Times-Picayune in New Orleans described the facility: “For the past eight years, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum has collected menus, cookbooks and pamphlets from food companies and much more. The library opens with almost 12,000 cookbooks, SoFAB president Liz Williams said. The books will not circulate; the collection is intended for research. … Williams said that other libraries — including the Schlesinger Library at Harvard, which has a large culinary collection — have sent their cookbooks here, and libraries are happy to know of a place that wants them. Other books were donated in honor of relatives who collected them by people who inherited cookbooks. Ken Smith, the former chef of Upperline, donated his huge cookbook collection when he left the restaurant business. SoFAB started collecting books a few months before Hurricane Katrina, and between 600 and 700 were lost in storage at Southern University of New Orleans. Afterward, publishers sent box after box of generous donations.”

Williams also put out a call for regular folks across the South to send in cookbooks.

Arkansas answered that call better than the other Southern states. Though Williams is a New Orleans native, I think she has a soft spot for those of us from Arkansas. That’s one reason Kat is on the program for the library’s first Saturday and probably why Liz Williams asked me to be on the SoFAB Institute board.

“We are going to have a wonderful resource for home cooks, culinary students, scholars and researchers here in New Orleans,” Williams told the New Orleans newspaper. “And it will continue to grow with new books, old books, pamphlets, postcards, papers, all kind of ephemera. We consider ourselves a repository and not a regular library. You can find that old book that most libraries would have sent to deaccession because they need the space. If you want to do historical research, this is the place you can put your hands on those older books and pamphlets.”

Let me back up and give you a bit of background.

Then, let me tell you about the event of the year for Arkansas foodies, which will be held Nov. 21 at the Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock.

SoFAB is the parent organization of the New Orleans-based Southern Food and Beverage Museum.

It’s the brainchild of Williams, whose bachelor’s degree and law degree are from LSU. Here’s how the organization’s website (www.southernfood.org) describes her: “Always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world, Liz Williams was lucky to be born into a family of Sicilian heritage in New Orleans. She grew up eating in two great food traditions. She is a founder and president of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. Much of her research and writing centers on the legal and policy issues related to food and foodways. Besides establishing this new museum, which opened in June 2008, she consults on issues of nonprofit management and governance as well as public-private partnerships, intellectual property and publishing.”

As president and CEO of the University of New Orleans Foundation for five years, Williams played a key role in the opening of the D-Day Museum (now the World War II Museum) and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum opened its doors less than three years after Katrina as the city was struggling to recover. It found a space in the Riverwalk Marketplace, an indoor mall of mostly small shops that had grown up in an area that had been developed for the 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair. Though based in Louisiana, the museum was designed to celebrate the diverse food of the entire region. The museum was viewed as a place that would host exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings. It would showcase the food and drink of the South. Partners would be other local and regional museums, restaurants and academic institutions.

The museum’s exhibits would focus on:

— The food and drink of the South

— The ethnicities that have contributed to Southern food and drink traditions

— The farmers, fishermen, hunters and gatherers who have produced the South’s food through the decades

— The processors, inventors, chefs and business owners who run restaurants and stock stores with Southern products

— The home cooks and families who have passed down recipes and food traditions for generations

There was one big problem. The Riverwalk already was in decline, drawing fewer visitors with each passing month.

In 2011, the Howard Hughes Corp. bought the mall and decided to undertake the first major redevelopment of the Riverwalk since it opened in 1986. The new owners decided to transform the Riverwalk into an outlet mall designed to attract the thousands of cruise ship passengers coming and going to the nearby ship terminals.

“We are part of a movement across the city where retailers are discovering the city,” Howard Hughes Corp. senior vice president of development Mark Bulmash told WWL-TV. “About two and a half years ago, we had a lot of resistance from retailers. There was a lot of work involved.”

The company let the existing leases run out and closed the Riverwalk for interior demolition. Earlier this month, the names of more than five dozen retailers that are headed to the outlet mall next summer were released.

Rather than letting panic set in, Williams saw an opportunity to move the museum into one of the city’s historic structures, the Dryades Market.

The building at 1504 O.C. Haley Blvd. will be converted into a new Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Plans for the building include the Leah Chase Gallery, the Museum of the American Cocktail and the Gallery of the States. There will be a demonstration kitchen, a museum shop and a full-service restaurant and bar. The second phase of the complex will include additional galleries, a children’s gallery and a rooftop garden.

The Dryades Market opened in 1849. Three years later, the market was expanded by the city. The original building was demolished in 1857 to make way for an expanded market that included updated equipment. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, the city of New Orleans paid for improvements that included brick and iron columns. Electrical lighting was added in 1903, and the market became a popular spot for political rallies and other meetings. In 1911, that building was demolished and replaced with a $60,000 structure that included a refrigeration plant. It was renovated in 1932-33 at a cost of $125,000. The building was turned over to a private owner in the 1970s.

Randy Ensminger — a Little Rock businessman who is a foodie of the first order — has been on the SoFAB board for a number of years. The Nov. 21 gala was his idea. Randy is developing a gorgeous piece of property along the Little Red River near Heber Springs known as Primrose Creek. He loves Arkansas as much as anyone I know. He wanted to not only raise money for the Arkansas exhibit in the Gallery of the States at New Orleans but also begin an event that fellow foodies would love. He hopes to make it an annual affair, something that will be near the top of the social calendar each fall.

The exhibits in the Gallery of the States — which will be created by curators from each Southern state — will explore and celebrate the food items, recipes, people, brands, dishes, agriculture, industry, cooking techniques and history that make each state different. I’ve never felt that Arkansas has received its due as a great food state. The food focus in the South has always been on Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida and some of the other Southern states. Talented young producers, chefs and food bloggers are changing that.

We’re entering a golden age of Arkansas food and drink.

“Arkansas has an opportunity to showcase it culinary heritage with a permanent exhibit at the museum,” Ensminger says. “The Arkansas exhibit will allow our state to take its rightful place alongside other Southern states long known for outstanding food and beverage producers, products and purveyors.”

In addition to celebrating Arkansas’ culinary culture, the permanent exhibit will be designed to encourage visitors to the museum to travel to Arkansas and experience our state’s food.

We have something special going on here. It’s time to let the rest of the nation know.

 

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College football: Week 10

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Could it possibly be Week 10 already?

Yes, we’re approaching the first weekend in November.

Remember what Frank Broyles used to say: “They always remember what you do in November.”

Granted, there’s not much to look forward to if the Razorbacks are the only college football team you follow, but five of the six NCAA Division II teams in the state go into November with winning records.

Back on Oct. 19, it was upset Saturday in the Southeastern Conference.

Last Saturday was more like blowout Saturday in the SEC. At least Arkansas wasn’t playing and getting blown out.

We went 6-0 on the picks last week, making the record 13-0 during the past two weeks.

Though we had picked Louisiana-Lafayette to win, it still was disappointing to watch Arkansas State play so poorly at home in a nationally televised game last Tuesday night. The Red Wolves have a chance to turn things around on Saturday night in Mobile against a relatively new South Alabama program.

UCA rewarded us with a victory in Conway against Stephen F. Austin. It was sad to see quarterback Wynrick Smothers’ senior season end early due to an injury, but the Bears are now 2-0 under the leadership of quarterback Ryan Howard. He has been impressive.

We picked UAPB to beat Mississippi Valley State by a score of 21-18, and the Golden Lions rewarded our pick with a 38-18 victory. So we got half the score right. It was nice to see Monte Coleman’s team pick up its first W in what had been a miserable season to that point.

We picked Henderson to beat Harding by a score of 39-30 and again got half of it right. The undefeated Reddies, now ranked No. 4 nationally in NCAA Division II, won by a score of 45-30.

We almost nailed the Ouachita-Arkansas Tech game in Russellville. We called it 35-25 in favor of Ouachita. The final score was 34-24 as the Tigers went to 6-1, ensuring the school’s sixth consecutive winning season. Ouachita is the only college program in the state — at any level — with six consecutive winning seasons. Congratulations to head coach Todd Knight and his staff. Ouachita has a smaller enrollment and a smaller athletic budget than any of its opponents and yet has won twice as many games as it has lost (38-19) since the start of the 2008 season.

The margin was much closer than we had expected, but UAM still managed to win its homecoming game with a 22-19 decision over winless Southern Nazarene. The Weevils are 5-3, a vast improvement over last year’s 1-10 record.

We’re now 57-10 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 10:

Auburn 40, Arkansas 30 — It’s the return of Gus Malzahn to northwest Arkansas. Auburn, with its 7-1 record, has been the most improved team in the SEC this fall. In last week’s 45-10 nonconference victory over Florida Atlantic, the Tigers had 628 yards of offense, with 440 of that coming in the first half. For those who think of a Malzahn offense as a passing offense, consider the fact that Auburn leads the SEC in rushing. The Tigers had 422 yards on the ground last Saturday. Malzahn is smart enough to adjust to the talent that’s on hand. He showed us that last year at Arkansas State. Something tells us that Arkansas hangs around for at least three quarters of this home game. No 52-0 blowouts this time.

Arkansas State 37, South Alabama 28 — The 3-4 Red Wolves need to get back on track, and they have a chance to do so against South Alabama. The game will be played in the same Mobile stadium where the Red Wolves won their bowl game last season, so they will be familiar with the surroundings. South Alabama also is 3-4. The wins have come by scores of 41-39 over Tulane, 31-24 over Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad and 38-21 over Kent State. The losses have been by scores of 22-21 to Southern Utah, 31-24 to Tennessee, 34-33 to Troy and 33-21 to Texas State. To win on the road, ASU will have to play much better than it did in the 23-7 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Red Wolves were held to fewer than 200 yards of offense for the first time in five years and had their lowest scoring output in Jonesboro in six seasons.

UCA 41, Northwestern State 27 — As noted, the Bears are 2-0 with Ryan Howard at quarterback. There’s no reason to pick against them now. In the 66-31 win over Stephen F. Austin, Howard threw for 403 yards and four touchdowns. UCA had 681 yards of offense and scored 38 of its points in the third quarter. The Bears are 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the Southland Conference. Northwestern State of Louisiana is 3-5. The Demons won’t be able to hang with the Bears even though the game is being played in Natchitoches (which is a much better city for eating meat pies than watching great college football).

Henderson 51, UAM 21 — Henderson’s toughest test to this point in the season came on the road at Harding, and the Reddies were up to the task. The Reddie offense made its presence known with a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Junior quarterback Kevin Rodgers were 19 of 26 passing for 368 yards and four touchdowns. Henderson lost its all-time leading receiver, Robert Jordan, to a broken leg. Jordan finished his career with 2,186 receiving yards. The loss shouldn’t matter against a Boll Weevil squad that, while improved from 2012, still needed three interceptions and two special teams touchdowns to avoid the upset against Southern Nazarene. Henderson’s tougher tests will come in its final two games against Southern Arkansas and Ouachita as the Reddies attempt to go undefeated in the regular season for a second consecutive year.

Ouachita 39, Southern Arkansas 38 — This should be the game of the week in the Great American Conference. Ouachita could still earn a second conference championship in three seasons by winning its final three games against SAU, UAM and Henderson. The Muleriders certainly have the talent to knock off the Tigers in the homecoming game at Magnolia. SAU beat Ouachita in Arkadelphia last year, 44-28. The Muleriders were picked near the top of the conference in preseason but have been a bit of a disappointment so far at 4-3. They’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game. Ouachita overcame four turnovers for its double-digit victory at Russellville last Saturday. Wide receiver Jalen Jones from Conway had 10 receptions for 103 yards. Meanwhile, a veteran Tiger defense held Tech to just 57 yards rushing.

East Central Oklahoma 27, Arkansas Tech 19 — The 3-5 Wonder Boys go on the road to Ada, Okla., to take on an East Central team that’s 4-3 following a 24-21 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma. The two squads appear evenly matched with a slight edge going to the home team.

Harding 43, Southeastern Oklahoma 26 — With two losses already, the Bisons probably won’t earn a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs. But if Harding wins its final three games against Southeastern Oklahoma, East Central Oklahoma and Arkansas Tech, it will have an 8-2 record and likely receive a bid to that new bowl game in Texarkana. The Bisons lead Division II in rushing and that spells trouble for a 2-6 Southeastern Oklahoma team that lost last week by a score of 25-21 to a Northwestern Oklahoma squad that had come into the game with an 0-7 record.

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Rex’s Rankings: Two weeks until the playoffs

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Greenwood dodged a bullet Friday night.

Camden Fairview did not.

The Bulldogs kicked a field goal with two seconds remaining to keep their winning streak (46 games) alive with a 45-42 victory over Fort Smith Southside.

We’ll keep Greenwood ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 in Class 6A. A tough road test comes Friday when the Bulldogs visit Conway. This promises to be the game of the week in high school football. We have Conway ranked No. 6 overall. The Wampus Cats are 7-1, having lost only to No. 3 Cabot.

Central Arkansas is making a better showing in the rankings this year with Cabot, Conway and North Little Rock all capable of getting hot in the playoffs and winning a Class 7A state championship (though my money is still on either Fayetteville or Bentonville).

In Class 5A, the defending state champion from Camden Fairview proved mortal as the Cardinals lost to Hope, 17-12. We’ll keep Fairview at No. 2 in Class 5A, though, just behind Pulaski Academy.

Hope’s victory ended Fairview’s winning streak at 21 games. Its conference winning streak had been 30 games.

That Interstate 30 corridor is strong this year (at least until you get to Texarkana, where the Razorbacks are weak). Consider the towns as you head toward the southwest — Bryant, Benton, Glen Rose, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Gurdon, Prescott and Hope all have good to excellent teams. Maybe we should call it the Football Corridor.

Speaking of Arkadelphia, its 49-7 victory Friday over an Ashdown team that had come into the game with a 6-1 record may just have been the most impressive performance of the evening. Even the Class 7A-centric Democrat-Gazette has now conceded that this is one Class 4A team that belongs in the overall Top 10. A Week 10 showdown at home against Malvern looms. That should be the game of the year in Class 4A. Malvern is 7-1, having only lost by six points at Hot Springs Lakeside. Malvern faces 5-3 Nashville this week. Arkadelphia travels to 1-7 Bauxite.

Let’s get to the rankings following eight weeks of the regular season:

Overall

1. Fayetteville

2. Greenwood

3. Cabot

4. Pulaski Academy

5. Bentonville

6. Conway

7. North Little Rock

8. Arkadelphia

9. Camden Fairview

10. Fort Smith Southside

Class 7A

1. Fayetteville

2. Cabot

3. Bentonville

4. Conway

5. North Little Rock

Class 6A

1. Greenwood

2. Jonesboro

3. Lake Hamilton

4. El Dorado

5. Russellville

Class 5A

1. Pulaski Academy

2. Camden Fairview

3. White Hall

4. Batesville

5. Morrilton

Class 4A

1. Arkadelphia

2. Booneville

3. Pine Bluff Dollarway

4. Valley View

5. Malvern

Class 3A

1. Charleston

2. Harding Academy

3. Little Rock Episcopal

4. Glen Rose

5. Smackover

Class 2A

1. Junction City

2. Carlisle

3. Bearden

4. East Poinsett County

5. Dierks

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College football: Week 9

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I was glued to the radio Saturday night, hoping that UCA could score late, come from behind and defeat Lamar down in Beaumont, Texas.

I always root for Arkansas teams against out-of-state foes.

But there was another motive. I was 6-0 on the picks to that point on the day and wanted to go 7-0.

I had picked the Bears to win by a score of 28-24.

They actually won 26-24 with a late touchdown.

I guess I was overly optimistic, though, in picking Alabama to defeat Arkansas by a score of 45-10. Those 10 points for the Hogs were nowhere to be found.

It marked the second season in a row for Arkansas to fail to score against Alabama. Nick Saban preaches perfection, and his team came close with no turnovers and no penalties. This is what a college football team should be.

As for the Razorbacks:

— They have been held scoreless for seven consecutive quarters.

— Since scoring on the opening drive against South Carolina, they have been outscored 104-0.

— They have their first five-game losing streak since 1997, which was Danny Ford’s final season as head coach.

— They’re 4-16 all time against No. 1 teams. This is the fifth consecutive season to lose to a No. 1 — three times to Alabama, once to Florida and once to LSU.

— Their defense has not had a single takeaway in three of the four Southeastern Conference games thus far this season.

At least it’s a bye week.

And none of those jokes please about Las Vegas having established Bye as a five-point favorite against the Hogs.

We’re sending out the predictions early this week since Arkansas State has a Tuesday night game.

College football isn’t meant to be played on Tuesday nights, by the way. Just the thought of Tuesday night college football makes me a little ill. I’m a traditionalist.

Oh well.

As noted, we were 7-0 last week, making the record 51-10 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 9 of the college football season:

Louisiana-Lafayette 35, Arkansas State 31 — The Red Wolves have won eight consecutive Sun Belt Conference games since losing the conference opener to Western Kentucky last season. ASU, in fact, has won 16 of its past 17 Sun Belt contests and captured back-to-back conference championships. But these 3-3 Red Wolves have yet to put together a complete game. After losses to Arkansas and Kansas State to start the season, Louisiana-Lafayette has run off four consecutive victories — 70-7 over Nicholls State, 35-30 over Akron, 48-24 over Texas State and 37-20 over Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad. The Ragin’ Cajuns lead the Sun Belt in scoring offense and rushing offense. Mark Hudspeth has gone 14-4 in conference games since becoming Louisiana-Lafayette’s head coach, and many think he will be the next head coach at Mississippi State. Expect a high-scoring affair tonight in Jonesboro.

UCA 27, Stephen F. Austin 24 — Both UCA and Stephen F. Austin have been up and down thus far in the 2013 season. Playing its first game of the season without quarterback Wynrick Smothers, the Bears moved to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play with the victory at Lamar. New quarterback Ryan Howard threw the winning touchdown pass with 3:41 remaining in the game. Howard was 26 of 40 passing for 281 yards and three touchdowns. Stephen F. Austin is 3-4. The wins have come by scores of 50-13 over McMurry, 52-38 over Montana State and 55-41 over Nicholls State. The losses have been by scores of 50-40 to Weber State, 61-13 to Texas Tech, 56-48 to Prairie View A&M and 56-14 to Southeastern Louisiana. Give the Bears a slight edge since they’re playing at home Saturday afternoon.

UAPB 21, Mississippi Valley State 18 — We picked UAPB to win a couple of weeks ago and came to regret it. The defending SWAC champions now stand at 0-7. The most recent loss came last Saturday afternoon by a score of 29-21 to Southern University in the homecoming game at Pine Bluff. The Golden Lions are still missing five key contributors due to eligibility issues. But the margins have been closer in recent weeks, and this might just be the week to secure that first victory against a Mississippi Valley State team that’s 1-6. The lone victory was against an Alabama A&M team that’s now 2-5. The losses have been to Florida A&M, Delta State (an NCAA Division II program), Alcorn State, Southern University, Jackson State and Prairie View A&M.

Henderson 39, Harding 30 — It’s the biggest game to this point in the season in the Great American Conference. Henderson is 7-0 and ranked No. 5 nationally in Division II. The Reddies’ latest victory was a 45-14 decision over Arkansas Tech in the Boomtown Classic at El Dorado. Reddie quarterback Kevin Rodgers was 19 of 31 passing for 358 yards and three touchdowns. Harding, which is 5-1 and has won five consecutive games, might just be able to keep this one close in Searcy. The Bisons knocked Ouachita from the ranks of the unbeaten last Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia in perhaps the most exciting college game played in the state so far this year. The lead changed hands twice in the final two minutes. Ouachita had gone ahead 33-30 with 1:56 left, but Keenan Kellett of Harding passed 74 yards to Donatella Luckett for the win. It was one of only three pass completions all day for a Harding team that leads Division II in rushing. The Bisons will keep the ball on the ground again Saturday and try to limit Henderson’s possessions.

Ouachita 35, Arkansas Tech 25 — Ouachita tries to bounce back from its first loss of the season as the Tigers go on the road to face Arkansas Tech in the Wonder Boys’ homecoming game at Russellville. Tech is 3-4 in its first season under head coach Raymond Monica. Ouachita must win to keep its postseason hopes alive.

UAM 47, Southern Nazarene 26 — The Boll Weevils play a weak foe at home for a second consecutive week. UAM improved its record to 4-3 with a 41-27 victory over an NAIA school from Illinois, Lindenwood-Belleville. Cody Trimble passed for 290 yards and four touchdowns for the Weevils. This week’s opponent, Southern Nazarene, is now a GAC member but has yet to win a game. Southern is finding the transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II most difficult.

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Rex’s Rankings: Three weeks to go

Monday, October 21st, 2013

There are only three weeks left in the high school football regular season.

The playoffs this year are going to be fun.

Fayetteville stays at No. 1 overall following a convincing 35-14 win over Rogers. The Purple Dogs have captured the past two Class 7A state championships. Others have Bentonville, despite two early losses, rated above Fayetteville. Indeed, Bentonville is strong.

But this I know: To be The Man, you have to beat The Man.

Cabot, Conway and North Little Rock could all still provide a playoff challenge out of central Arkansas.

And let’s not forget Springdale Har-Ber and Fort Smith Southside. Both teams have the potential to get hot in the playoffs.

In Class 6A, I don’t see anyone upsetting the University of Greenwood. I just don’t.

In Class 5A, Pulaski Academy and Camden Fairview could meet in the semifinals at Camden. That might be the “real” state championship.

In Class 4A, Arkadelphia continues to play well (64-22 over a decent Pulaski Robinson team on Friday night), but Ashdown and Malvern still loom on the regular-season schedule.

All of our Top 5 teams in Class 3A are capable of getting hot at the right time and making it to Little Rock for the state championship game.

Ditto for Class 2A.

Here are the updated rankings:

Overall

1. Fayetteville

2. Greenwood

3. Cabot

4. Pulaski Academy

5. Camden Fairview

6. Bentonville

7. Conway

8. Arkadelphia

9. Springdale Har-Ber

10. North Little Rock

Class 7A

1. Fayetteville

2. Cabot

3.  Bentonville

4. Conway

5. Springdale Har-Ber

Class 6A

1. Greenwood

2. Pine Bluff

3. Jonesboro

4. Benton

5. Lake Hamilton

Class 5A

1. Pulaski Academy

2. Camden Fairview

3. White Hall

4. Batesville

5. Morrilton

Class 4A

1. Arkadelphia

2. Booneville

3. Pine Bluff Dollarway

4. Valley View

5. Malvern

Class 3A

1. Charleston

2. Harding Academy

3. Barton

4. Glen Rose

5. Smackover

Class 2A

1. Junction City

2. Carlisle

3. Bearden

4. East Poinsett County

5. Dierks

 

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College football: Week 8

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I haven’t talked to too many people in Arkansas who are looking forward to this week’s Arkansas-Alabama game.

How could they given the 52-7 debacle in Fayetteville last Saturday?

To review:

— South Carolina led 43:25 to 16:35 in time of possession.

— South Carolina led 537 to 248 in total offense.

— South Carolina had 32 first downs. Arkansas had seven.

— South Carolina ran 89 plays. Arkansas ran just 37, a number that’s hard to believe given today’s style of college football.

— Brandon Allen was just four of 12 passing for 30 yards. Connor Shaw for South Carolina went 19 of 28 for 219 yards and three touchdowns.

It was Bret Bielema’s worst loss as a head coach, a record that might only last until this Saturday (though Nick Saban is less likely than Steve Superior to run up the score on a downtrodden opponent).

Are you looking for a silver lining?

Well, Arkansas leads the series against South Carolina, 13-9. Steve Spurrier is 4-5 at South Carolina against Arkansas (he was 3-0 against the Hogs at Florida).

It’s not just the Razorbacks who are losing games. This is not shaping up to be the kind of year that last year was in college football in this state. If you take the Hogs out of the equation, 2012 might have been the greatest college football year in the state’s history.

Arkansas State won a conference championship and a bowl game.

UCA won a conference championship and earned a playoff bid.

UAPB won a conference championship.

Henderson won a conference championship, went 10-0 in the regular season and made the playoffs.

Harding went 9-1 in the regular season and made the playoffs.

Southern Arkansas went 8-2 in the regular season and went to a bowl game.

This year is different.

As we reach the middle of October, there are only three of the 12 college football teams in Arkansas with winning records (and two of them are in Arkadelphia).

Henderson is 6-0, Ouachita is 5-0 and Harding is 4-1.

Ouachita and Harding play Saturday afternoon in Arkadelphia in the biggest game to this point of the season in the Great American Conference.

We were 6-2 on the picks last week, making the record 44-10 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 8 of the college football season:

Alabama 45, Arkansas 10 — Frankly, there’s not much to say here. This is a fragile Razorback team. And this is an Alabama team that believes it will win each time it takes the field. At best, Razorback fans can hope that their team plays hard. Last year’s team, under the clueless John L. Smith, often showed signs of throwing in the towel. Losing isn’t a disgrace in the SEC. Quitting is.

UCA 28, Lamar 24 — These are dark times, relatively speaking, at UCA. The Bears evened their record at 3-3 last Saturday in Conway against a bad Division II team, Nebraska-Kearney. But they lost senior quarterback Wynrick Smothers to a broken ankle in that 31-0 victory. Smothers was the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year last season when he threw 31 touchdown passes. The quarterbacking responsibilities now fall on junior Ryan Howard and sophomore Taylor Reed (who led El Dorado to state championships and started for Memphis as a freshman). UCA will be smelling the chemical fumes of Beaumont, Texas, this Saturday as the Bears play Lamar. The home team also comes in with a 3-3 record. The Lamar victories have been by scores of 75-0 over Panhandle State, 53-0 over Bacone College and 27-17 over Grambling State. The losses have been by scores of 27-14 to Louisiana Tech, 59-3 to Oklahoma State and 14-3 to Sam Houston State. Something tells me the Bears will rally in the face of adversity.

Southern University 30, UAPB 21 — Something had to give last Saturday in Pine Bluff. UAPB and Texas Southern came into the game with 0-5 records. UAPB lost, 41-28. This has shaped up to be a college football season to forget in Jefferson County, where at least the high school football is good. Quarterback Ben Anderson did have a decent game for the Golden Lions. He was 26 of 45 passing for 316 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 86 yards and three touchdowns. It’s homecoming weekend at UAPB, an event that always fills the stands. Southern is 3-3. The losses have been by scores of 62-13 to Houston, 55-14 to Northwestern State of Louisiana and 19-14 to Jackson State. The victories have been by scores of 62-59 over Prairie View A&M in two overtimes, 17-7 over Mississippi Valley State and 20-17 over Alabama A&M in two overtimes.

Harding 34, Ouachita 31 — This should be one heck of a college football game. I’m glad I’m going to be at A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia on Saturday afternoon to see it. The winner becomes the top challenger to Henderson (though it appears the Reddies are on the way to being undefeated in the regular season for a second consecutive year) and could well be headed to the postseason. Ouachita was 6-0 when it hosted Harding last year, and the Bisons won. Now, a 5-0 Tiger team (that’s much healthier than the injury-riddled squad of a year ago) will try to get done what it couldn’t accomplish last year. I like to call this the Battle for the Old Wooden Collection Plate since these are the only two church-related schools in the state playing Division II football. Ouachita went to 5-0 at home last Saturday with a 45-21 homecoming win over Northwestern Oklahoma. Senior tailback Chris Rycraw out of Bryant rushed for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns in that game. After being upset by Southwestern Oklahoma in the first game of the season, Harding has run off four consecutive victories. The Bisons defeated UAM, 63-30, last weekend in Searcy. Harding, an option team, leads NCAA Division II in rushing yardage and had 337 rushing yards against the Boll Weevils in the first half alone. Harding finished with 474 yards on the ground. Junior quarterback Keenan Kellett scored four rushing touchdowns. Can a Tiger defense that returned 10 starters from last year slow the Bison rushing attack?

Henderson 50, Arkansas Tech 26 — The Reddies are up to No. 5 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association Division II poll. They take their show on the road this week to El Dorado to face Arkansas Tech in the Boomtown Classic. The Reddies beat Southwestern Oklahoma in Arkadelphia by a score of 45-17 last Saturday. Henderson had 458 yards of offense as junior quarterback Kevin Rodgers was 29 of 40 passing for 378 yards and four touchdowns. Arkansas Tech fell behind Southern Arkansas by a score of 13-0 and then came back to shock the Muleriders, 14-13. Tech is 3-3. Wonder Boy quarterback Luke Halpin was 22 of 32 passing for 274 yards and two touchdowns.

Southern Arkansas 42, Southern Nazarene 22 — The Muleriders are 3-3 and have been a bit of a disappointment so far after having been picked in the preseason to finish among the top three teams in the conference. But they should have no problem on the road in Oklahoma on Saturday against an 0-6 Southern Nazarene team that’s having a hard time making the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

UAM 49, Lindenwood University-Belleville  29 — Speaking of the NAIA, UAM gets a break from GAC play with a nonconference game against an NAIA team out of Illinois. It’s a good time for a breather after the whipping the Weevils sustained at Harding.

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Rex’s Rankings: Six weeks in the books

Monday, October 14th, 2013

It appeared that Fayetteville, our No. 1 team, was going to lose on Friday night.

That would have made another set of Bulldogs — the Greenwood Bulldogs — No. 1.

But the Purple Dogs were able to get it done.

Championship teams find a way to do those kinds of things when trailing late on the road.

Dre Greenlaw returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown with 1:49 remaining, allowing Fayetteville to sneak past Rogers Heritage in Rogers by a score of 28-27.

Fayetteville is 6-0 for the first time since 2006.

Bentonville, Fort Smith Southside and Springdale Har-Ber all remain capable of bringing the Class 7A state championship to that part of the state, though.

For Greenwood of Class 6A, it was a 44th consecutive victory despite the starting quarterback being out. Reid Wheeler filled in for an injured Jabe Burgess, and Greenwood rolled to a 34-10 victory over Little Rock Catholic at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

It’s going to be an interesting final four weeks of the regular season.

Here are the rankings after six weeks of play:

Overall

1. Fayetteville

2. Greenwood

3. Cabot

4. Pulaski Academy

5. Camden Fairview

6. Bentonville

7. Fort Smith Southside

8. Conway

9. Arkadelphia

10. Springdale Har-Ber

Class 7A

1. Fayetteville

2. Cabot

3. Bentonville

4. Fort Smith Southside

5. Conway

Class 6A

1. Greenwood

2. Lake Hamilton

3. Pine Bluff

4. Russellville

5. Benton

Class 5A

1. Pulaski Academy

2. Camden Fairview

3. Wynne

4. White Hall

5. Watson Chapel

Class 4A

1. Arkadelphia

2. Booneville

3. Pine Bluff Dollarway

4. Valley View

5. Malvern

Class 3A

1. Charleston

2. Harding Academy

3. Barton

4. Glen Rose

5. Smackover

Class 2A

1. Junction City

2. Carlisle

3. Bearden

4. East Poinsett County

5. Dierks

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Rush Harding: The coach’s son

Friday, October 11th, 2013

Rush Harding is the son of a coach and proud of it.

Harding, the chief executive officer of the Little Rock-based investment banking firm Crews & Associates Inc., grew up at Clarendon, a historic east Arkansas city on the banks of the lower White River.

Clarendon, which is located near where the Cache River flows into the White River, was first settled in the late 1700s by French hunters and trappers. They recognized the bounty that came from those two slow-moving rivers and the surrounding bottomland hardwood forests. Clarendon’s importance increased in the 1820s when the builders of the Military Road from Memphis to Little Rock chose it as the White River crossing point. A ferry was operating there on a regular basis by 1828.

When Monroe County was created out of parts of Arkansas and Phillips counties in November 1829 by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature, Clarendon was chosen as the county seat. It remains so to this day. The town became an important port for cotton and other commodities. A factory was established to produce buttons from the millions of mussel shells found in the rivers. The hardwood forests were harvested for lumber. Some of that wood was used to make baseball bats for a time in the early 1900s at the Moss Brothers Bat Co.

Rush Harding still loves Clarendon. That love is evident to anyone who has ever visited with him.

As a boy, Harding thrived there. He hunted, fished, swam and played multiple sports. An upscale restaurant that the Harding family will open New Year’s Eve in Little Rock will be named Cache in honor of the area where Harding spent his boyhood.

“I thought Clarendon was the Garden of Eden,” Harding says as he sits in his office high atop the First Security Building in downtown Little Rock’s River Market District. “We were Methodists and never missed church. And I never missed an athletic event in town. If I wasn’t playing in it, I was attending it with my dad.”

Harding’s father, a legendary coach who went by the name of Buddy, was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of the almost four decades he worked with high school athletes. The elder Harding, whose football teams were 151-57 at Clarendon, also built the school into a track powerhouse.

The seventh-grade teams were called the Alley Cats. The junior high teams were the Cubs. The high school teams were the Lions.

His father’s work ethic was transferred to Rush Harding, who hasn’t missed a day of work for being sick in the past 37 years. Harding also has been active in the community. He’s a past president of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and continues to serve on the Hall of Fame board. He also has served on the University of Central Arkansas Board of Trustees and on the board of the Arkansas Arts Center.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will honor Harding when it holds its annual fall salute on Thursday, Oct. 24. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Jack Stephens Center on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

This will be the fifth consecutive year for the Hall of Fame to put on a fall salute. Past honorees are Conway businessman Stephen L. Strange Sr., former University of Arkansas basketball star Joe Kleine, former University of Arkansas football star Jim Lindsey and former University of Arkansas track and field coach John McDonnell.

“My dad coached through my ninth-grade year, and then the principal’s job came open,” Harding says. “He had wanted to coach me all the way through high school, but the increased salary was important to our family. My mom was the guidance counselor and the home economics teacher. With two teachers in the family, you just couldn’t turn down a big pay increase.”

Clarendon went 5-5 in football during Harding’s sophomore and junior seasons.

Ronnie Kerr, who later would become a head coach at the college level at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, came to town in the fall of 1971 for Harding’s senior year. With Kerr as the coach and Harding as the quarterback, Clarendon compiled an 8-2-2 record. The only losses were in the first game to Augusta, which was coached by east Arkansas icon Curtis King (a 1980 Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee), and in the final game to Walnut Ridge in the semifinals of the state playoffs. The tie games were against Brinkley and Carlisle.

“We tied Brinkley 7-7, and I threw two touchdown passes,” Harding says. “I threw an interception to Brinkley’s Jerry Eckwood, which he took all the way for a touchdown. I threw the other touchdown pass to Gary Cook on our team.”

Eckwood went on to become a football star at the University of Arkansas.

Cook went on to play a major role in Harding’s life.

“Gary wanted to go to West Point and play football for Army,” Harding says. “He talked me into going to West Point with him. People told us that it would be unheard of for two boys from the same school to get appointments to the U.S. Military Academy, but we did. That was Gary’s dream, not mine, but I decided to go along.”

During the summer prior to his senior year, Harding was elected governor of Arkansas Boys State, a one-week program in civics that’s sponsored by the American Legion. A year later, he would hand the gavel over to the new Boys State governor, a high school student from Hope named Mike Huckabee.

During their senior year, Harding and Cook were the co-valedictorians at Clarendon High School.

In late May, three days after the graduation ceremony, Harding received word that Cook, who lived near the small community of Monroe, had drowned. He had been swimming in a rice irrigation ditch. It was Coach Ronnie Kerr who took Harding to the scene of the accident that awful day.

Heartbroken, Harding reported to the U.S. Military Academy on June 15 for the start of a grueling summer as a plebe.

“I had wanted to go to UCA, not West Point,” Harding says. “But people I respected said that I had received a coveted appointment and needed to follow through. I decided to prove that I could do it. They would haze the plebes in those days, but I stuck it out. I reported for football but frankly was too slow to play at that level. The coaches suggested that I join the sprint football team.”

Army has a rich football tradition with three national championships, three Heisman Trophy winners and 26 Hall of Famers. The sprint football team, which has been around since 1957, has a tradition of its own.

Few Arkansans even know there is such a sport. What’s known now as the Collegiate Sprint Football League was started in 1934 by George Little of Rutgers. The league’s seven charter members were Cornell, Lafayette, Rutgers, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Villanova and Yale. Yale and Lafayette disbanded their programs at the start of World War II. Play was halted for all schools from 1943-45 due to the war.

In 1946, the U.S. Naval Academy joined the conference and dominated play until the Black Knights came along 11 years later. In its first six years in the league, Army put together a 32-3-1 record and won four titles. After a losing season in 1963, the Black Knights won 17 of their next 18 games. Army had 21 consecutive victories between 1972, when Harding played, and 1975.

The rules of sprint football are largely the same as those for varsity football. Four days prior to a game, though, all sprint football players must weigh in at 172 pounds or less. They must weigh in again two days before a game. Scouting opponents is forbidden, and practice cannot start until three weeks before the first game.

Harding enjoyed playing sprint football. His heart, however, wasn’t in finishing school at West Point without Cook and then serving as an Army officer.

“I started my sophomore year that next summer, but I was miserable,” Harding says. “I didn’t want to become a career military officer. I had spent some time in Conway with friends and decided that I wanted to be a real college student and do the kinds of things most college students do. So I resigned my commission at West Point and enrolled in college at Conway.”

The Bear football team had an outstanding quarterback named Sam Coleman coming in. Harding knew he would never start at quarterback in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. He decided instead to join the basketball team, which was coached by Don Nixon, who was inducted earlier this year into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

“I mainly sat by Coach Nixon and kept the shot charts,” Harding says. “I wasn’t eligible the first semester. I did play a bit during the next semester. It was a great experience for me. I got to be around guys like James Dickey, Joe Couch and John Hutchcraft.”

After playing basketball during the 1973-74 season, Harding decided to concentrate on his studies. He graduated in 1976, having majored in math and English. The son of a coach, Harding had once thought he too would teach and coach. He had, after all, grown up around coaches and sports. His Thanksgivings were spent attending Clarendon’s rivalry games against Holly Grove. His summer memories were of attending the annual coaches’ clinic and the all-star football practices in early August with his father.

“My father knew how to connect with young people,” Harding says. “To be honest with you, I was kind of scared of Daddy, but I always knew he loved me. My mom was the nurturer and the encourager. My dad was the boss. No one in Clarendon ever challenged his authority. Yeah, he was the boss.”

Harding’s father had lined up a job for him teaching and coaching at Forrest City at a salary of $8,400 a year.

“I just couldn’t make the math work in my head,” Harding says. “I didn’t know how I could live on that. I was in Little Rock one night and a guy asked me what I would do with $12,000. I thought he meant $12,000 a year and told him that would be wonderful. He said, ‘I’m talking about $12,000 a month selling bonds.’ I decided to give it a try. They would pay me $450 a month plus commissions. I asked my dad for a loan of $300 to rent an apartment, and he wouldn’t do it. I had to go to the bank and get the loan.”

Few people have ever outworked Rush Harding, the overachiever who had been Boys State governor, an Eagle Scout and the high school valedictorian. He joined T.J. Raney & Sons Inc. of Little Rock and, through hard work, soon was experiencing financial success.

“I had never taken a business class,” Harding says. “Things just worked out. When Bob Raney Sr. died in 1979, seven of us left the company and went out on our own.”

Adron Crews, John Bailey, Rick Chitwood, Jim Jones, James Lake, Rob Owens and Harding formed Crews & Associates.

Adron Crews died in May 1996 while on a business trip to New Orleans. In 2000, Crews & Associates became a wholly owned subsidiary of First Security Bancorp.

When Rush Harding was a boy, his father would take him on his birthday in late July to Spaulding Sporting Goods in downtown Little Rock to buy baseball bats from Lee Rogers. Harding has vivid memories of visiting with Rogers, who had starred in multiple sports at the University of Alabama and settled in Little Rock after having pitched for Doc Prothro’s Little Rock Travelers. Rogers was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.

Not only birthdays revolved around sports for Rush Harding. So did the other days of the year.

Sports have remained important in Harding’s life. In 1986, Harding’s father retired from school administration. Rush Harding’s parents moved to Little Rock so they could watch Rush’s sons, Buddy and Payne, grow up and participate in sports.

“Team sports have been a top influence on me, and that’s because of the relationships I’ve had with teammates and coaches,” Rush Harding says. “One of the best compliments I ever received came from J.B. Grimes, who was a year behind me at Clarendon and went on to be a college football coach. I wasn’t the greatest athlete to ever come through that school, but J.B. once said to me: ‘You were a leader. You led our team.’ Participation in sports made me a better husband, a better friend and a better employer. In a sense, I’m still kind of a quarterback. I like to have a positive impact on the young people who work here. I do a lot of coaching down here at this office each day.”

Harding’s son Buddy recently had a son of his own. The baby’s name: Rush Harding V.

The grandfather isn’t quite ready to slow down.

“I got certified to teach several years back because I figured that I would get out of the business by this age,” says the man who will be honored later this month by the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. “I later decided to stick with this. We have about 250 employees who are my teammates. I didn’t take that job my dad got me at Forrest City all those years ago, but I’m still teaching and coaching. It’s just not in a classroom or on the sideline.”

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College football: Week 7

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

It was ugly, wasn’t it?

Arkansas lost for a ninth consecutive time to Florida. As much as Razorback fans would like for the situation to be otherwise, the Arkansas program has just never been close to the level of Florida since joining the Southeastern Conference more than two decades ago.

The Hogs are 0-4 in games played at Gainesville and never had much of a chance last Saturday as Brandon Allen was a paltry 17 of 42 passing for 165 yards. Meanwhile, the Arkansas defense has yet to come up with a turnover in two SEC games.

When did Arkansas last beat Florida?

Try the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. That’s so long ago that a guy named David Bazzel (hint, hint, he turns 50 Sunday) was playing for the Razorbacks.

Bright spots?

Well, Zach Hocker is eight for eight on field goal attempts this fall.

Big Dan Skipper, who’s just a freshman, blocked his second field goal of the season.

Those are at least a couple of positive aspects of the game.

Is it time for Razorback fans to panic?

Not really. The new coaching staff has to play with the hand it was dealt, and only the most delusional of fans thought this team would win seven or more games.

For a second consecutive week, we go to the words of Kane Webb, the Arkansas native and former sports journalist who now toils up in Kentucky as the editor of Louisville magazine. Kane has watched the first six games and thinks The Program will be OK, given time.

“The big fella knows how to coach the offensive line,” he says of Bret Bielema. “Let him recruit some SEC-caliber linemen, and we’ll see what Bielema can really do at Arkansas.

“When Jeff Long made his hire, I yawned. Bielema? The guy from Wisconsin? Boring. Sounds like a Northerner hiring a Northerner. I didn’t see anything to get excited about. But the more we see and hear of Bielema, especially in his press conferences immediately following games, the more there is to like. When Bobby Petrino lost, he did a slow boil, pointing out execution mistakes like a professor burning at the idiocy of his pupils. You expected him to lash out: ‘If they would only do what I tell them we would win every game. The morons!’ Petrino was way too smart for his own good when it came to offense — and PR.

“Houston Nutt? Once the salesman shtick wore thin — about midway through year two — he just seemed flat-out defensive and insecure.

“Bielema, on the other hand, is … fine. As if he were prepared for this. As if he knew this would be a tough year. As if he understands that all these games are teaching moments for his players, who he and the staff are still getting to know, after all.

“This season won’t be easy, and Razorback fans won’t be happy. But it will be fine. This might be the first time in a long time in which fans can look down the road — and recognize the driver.”

We were 5-2 on the picks last week, making the record 38-8 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 7:

South Carolina 34, Arkansas 24 — This South Carolina team, which is 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC, has had some of its own problems. It barely held off a woeful Kentucky team last week, 35-28. South Carolina has 14 consecutive home wins, the third longest streak of its kind in the country behind Michigan and Georgia. But this game isn’t in the Palmetto State. It’s in Fayetteville. And that means Arkansas has a chance.

Arkansas State 42, Idaho 33 — Paul Petrino brings his 1-5 Idaho squad to Jonesboro on Saturday to face an Arkansas State team that’s 2-3 in its first year under Bryan Harsin. The Red Wolves had an open date last week and needed it following losses of 31-7 to Memphis and 41-19 to Missouri. It’s the first time in three seasons that ASU has lost back-to-back games. ASU should run up some points Saturday against a team that gave up 731 yards in a 61-14 loss to Fresno State. The Vandals’ only victory has come against Temple.

UCA 47, Nebraska-Kearney 20 — UCA was embarrassed at home last weekend in a 59-28 loss to McNeese State. Like ASU, the Bears find themselves 2-3 overall after having come into the season with high expectations.  The loss to McNeese ended a 13-game home winning streak for the Bears, who had last lost in Conway in November 2010. It was the first UCA loss at home since the purple-and-gray turf was installed in 2011. It was also the most points allowed by UCA in a home game in Clint Conque’s 14 seasons as head coach. UCA should have a chance to get well quickly Saturday afternoon in a nonconference game against a Nebraska-Kearney team that comes to Conway with a 1-4 record. Nebraska-Kearney is an NCAA Division II school.

UAPB 19, Texas Southern 17 — Something has to give Saturday night in Pine Bluff. UAPB is 0-5. Texas Southern is 0-5. UAPB, the defending SWAC champion, fell to 0-3 in conference play last Saturday with a 43-33 loss at Jackson State. It was a rematch of last year’s conference championship game. This is UAPB’s worst start since losing seven consecutive games in Monte Coleman’s first season in 2008. Texas Southern has lost its five games by scores of 37-13 to Prairie View A&M, 55-17 to Sam Houston State, 35-7 to Jackson State, 12-10 to Alabama A&M and 34-2 to Alabama State. Let’s give the advantage to the Golden Lions since they’re home.

Henderson 49, Southwestern Oklahoma 20 — There are only two undefeated college teams left in Arkansas, and they’re both in Arkadelphia. This is one of those fun Saturdays when you can park your car and see parts of two college games. Ouachita kicks off at 1 p.m. Henderson kicks off across the highway at 3 p.m. The Reddies, still ranked No. 8 in NCAA Division II, went to 5-0 last Saturday with a 42-0 victory at Northwestern Oklahoma. Henderson was held to a season-low 374 yards of offense, but it didn’t matter against 0-5 Northwestern as the Reddie defense pitched the shutout. It was the 17th consecutive regular-season victory for the Reddies. The 3-2 Southwestern Oklahoma team that comes to Arkadelphia on Saturday is much better than Northwestern, but the Bulldogs should prove no match for the Reddies.

Ouachita 40, Northwestern Oklahoma 13 — Ouachita went to 4-0 last Saturday with an impressive 31-14 road victory at Southwestern Oklahoma. Ouachita’s defense held Southwestern to just 133 total yards. Southwestern has a senior quarterback with more than 7,000 yards passing in his career, but the Tigers held him to 39 yards through the air. If Ouachita takes care of business against winless Northwestern, it will set the stage for a showdown against Harding the following week at Arkadelphia’s A.U. Williams Field.

Harding 35, UAM 21 — The is a vastly improved UAM team compared with the one that went 1-10 a year ago. The Boll Weevils are 3-2 following a 34-0 thrashing of Arkansas Tech in which three UAM quarterbacks saw action. The CBS Sports Network was in Magnolia last Thursday for a nationally televised game. Excitement was at a fever pitch on the Southern Arkansas campus, but Harding rolled in from Searcy and posted a 28-14 victory. Bison junior fullback Romo Westbrook had a career-high 21 carries for 171 yards. Harding, which has won three consecutive games after being upset by Southwestern Oklahoma in the opener, had 425 rushing yards in that game. The Bisons lead NCAA Division II in rushing.

Southern Arkansas 27, Arkansas Tech 16 — SAU fell to 3-2 with the loss to Harding and, in all reality, fell out of the running for the GAC title. Now, the Muleriders will try to run the table and get an invitation to that new bowl game in Texarkana. The quest starts Saturday in Russellville against an Arkansas Tech team that’s 2-3 in its first year under head coach Raymond Monica.

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Rex’s Rankings: Halfway home

Monday, October 7th, 2013

The high school football regular season is halfway finished.

This we know:

— The Bulldogs might not be in the state’s largest classification, but Greenwood could play with anyone. Coach Rick Jones’ crew extended its winning streak to 43 games on Friday night.

— Cabot is far better than anyone had expected. The Panthers are the best football team in central Arkansas, with Pulaski Academy and Conway right behind as far as the central part of the state is concerned.

— It’s going to be fun to watch Fayetteville, Bentonville, Fort Smith Southside and Springdale Har-Ber battle it out down the stretch. All are capable of winning a Class 7A state title. Throw in the fact that Springdale, Rogers and Rogers Heritage are improved. There’s some great football being played in northwest Arkansas.

— I sure hope I get to see Pulaski Academy play Camden Fairview in the playoffs.

— Can you believe that Arkadelphia, Ashdown, Malvern and Nashville are in the same conference? Those teams are a combined 17-3 going into this week’s games.

Let’s get to the rankings:

Overall

1. Fayetteville

2. Greenwood

3. Cabot

4. Pulaski Academy

5. Camden Fairview

6. Bentonville

7. Fort Smith Southside

8. Conway

9. Arkadelphia

10. Pine Bluff

Class 7A

1. Fayetteville

2. Cabot

3. Bentonville

4. Fort Smith Southside

5. Conway

Class 6A

1. Greenwood

2. Pine Bluff

3. Lake Hamilton

4. Jonesboro

5. Russellville

Class 5A

1. Pulaski Academy

2. Camden Fairview

3. Hope

4. Wynne

5. White Hall

Class 4A

1. Arkadelphia

2. Booneville

3. Pine Bluff Dollarway

4. Valley View

5. Ashdown

Class 3A

1. Charleston

2. Harding Academy

3. Barton

4. Glen Rose

5. Fordyce

Class 2A

1. Junction City

2. Carlisle

3. Bearden

4. East Poinsett County

5. Dierks

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