Delay of game: Glen Rose playing after thawing out

By Wayne Bryan Published December 12, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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Harding Academy’s Kohl Blickenstaff pulls down Glen Rose running back Carlos Burton on a crucial third down late in the fourth quarter during last year’s 3A state football championship. The Glen Rose Beavers will play the Smackover Buckaroos at 7 p.m. Friday at Benton Harmony Grove High School in Haskell.

GLEN ROSE — Sunday in Philadelphia, the hometown Eagles and the Detroit Lions of the National Football League played football as 8 inches of snow — most of it in the first half — fell around them. Grounds crews used shovels and leaf blowers to clear off the yard lines in 10-yard increments, but play went on.

The rules are different for high school football in Arkansas. With the threat of ice and snow forecast for last Friday, the Arkansas Activities Association, the governing body for high school athletics, canceled nine games set for Friday and Saturday. That included three state finals scheduled in Little Rock and six semifinals around the state.

“The decision is based on a safety issue,” said Lance Taylor, executive director of the activities association. “We wanted to make sure everyone could travel to Little Rock or the semifinal locations without hazardous driving conditions.”

Taylor said the AAA made its decision after consulting several schools and officials at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the site of the state finals.

On Friday, a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow closed schools and caused major travel problems over much of the state.

Among the games that were delayed was the 3A semifinal between Glen Rose and Smackover, scheduled for last Friday night. Long before game time, the weather created travel problems, including through the hills and along the rural roads of Hot Spring and Saline counties.

“No doubt, we would rather play the game now,” Glen Rose head coach Mark Kehner said. “The season is long enough without a delay making it longer.”

Actually, the Beavers coach said he would have liked to play in some bad weather.

“We were ready to play, and some bad weather might have slowed some of Smackover’s speed,” Kehner said. “They are a very athletic team with a lot of quickness.”

However, the coach said, he and his team could accept the delay because all the games were shut down for the weekend.

“It was fair across the board,” Kehner said. “We had one bye week in the playoffs; it is like having another one.”

He said the delay would not have an impact on the health of his team.

“We are in good shape for Week 14 of the football season,” Kehner said. “It is not like we were waiting on one or two key players to heal. We are ready to go.”

The game will be played at 7 p.m. this Friday. While it is a home game for the Beavers, it will be played at Harmony Grove High School in nearby Haskell because of the condition of the Glen Rose’s field.

“There is no playing on our field,” coach Kehner said. “It was all tore up at the end of the season. We played at Harmony Grove last week against Green Forest, too. Our field is nasty now with no grass at all. We don’t want to turn any ankles at this stage of the game, so I am glad we can play at Harmony Grove.”

Kehner said the team has been practicing on the outfield of the baseball field at school.

The Beavers’ field at Glen Rose will be replanted and groomed for next season, but the coach said he hopes that someday his team will have an artificial-turf field.

“We would love to do something,” Kehner said. “But we don’t have a lot of businesses or industry in our district, so finding financial sponsors for a new field would be hard.”

The team has earned two conference titles and a state championship during the past five years. The Beavers were just a play away from the state 3A trophy last year, losing to Harding Academy in the closing seconds.

“If we keep winning, people will keep watching us play on grass,” Kehner said.

High school games in Oklahoma were also delayed a week because of the same winter-storm system.

The Arkansas Activities Association’s Taylor said the scheduled games deserved to be played under the best conditions possible.

“Playing in a state championship can be a lifetime dream,” he said in the announcement about rescheduling the games. “We want this to be something the athletes, coaches, parents and fans will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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