Archive for November, 2019

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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Rex’s Rankings: After 10 weeks

Monday, November 4th, 2019

We’ve reached the final week of the regular season.

This is that strange week when there are a lot of rivalry games with about half of the games played on Thursday night and about half of the games played on Friday night.

The big news last week might have been the fact that Bryant didn’t invoke the mercy rule. The No. 1 Hornets had to battle for more than three quarters to pull out a 35-21 victory over North Little Rock.

The upset of the week was Van Buren over Bentonville West. It’s the Battle of Bentonville this week as that city’s two high schools play each other. Bentonville remains just behind Bryant in the rankings following its 52-0 victory over Springdale.

Here are our updated rankings as the regular season winds down:

OVERALL

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

CLASS 7A

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

CLASS 6A

  1. Benton
  2. Greenwood
  3. Jonesboro
  4. Searcy
  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. Fordyce
  3. Foreman
  4. Des Arc
  5. Hazen

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