It was so crowded at the top of the 5A-West last season that a four-way tie for the championship led to initial confusion about playoff seeding.
One play, as it turned out, kept Maumelle from adding to the chaos.
Hornets at a glance
COACH Kirk Horton
2017 RECORD 5-5, 4-3 5A-West
KEY RETURNERS Slotback/DE Evan Robinson (Sr., 6-2, 220), RB/S Darius Thompson (Sr., 5-10, 190), RB/OLB Antavious Henderson (Sr., 5-7, 160)
Aug. 31;Pea Ridge
Sept. 14;at Mills
Sept. 21;White Hall*
Sept. 27;vs. LR Parkview*^
Oct. 5;Pulaski Academy*
Oct. 12;at LR Fair*
Oct. 26;at LR Christian*
Nov. 2;at Watson Chapel*
^at War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock
Pulaski County Preview
The 10th in a series previewing Pulaski County high school football teams
Farmington used a two-point conversion in overtime to beat Maumelle 31-30 in Week 8, a loss that kept the Hornets from finishing 5-2 in the conference and tying Alma, Greenbrier, Harrison and Morrilton for the title.
Maumelle led 20-0 late in the first half, but an interception and a safety after a mishandled shotgun snap helped fuel Farmington's comeback.
"Kind of summed up some things that have held us back in the past -- handling adversity," said Kirk Horton, entering his second season as Maumelle's coach after previously serving as its defensive coordinator. "And we did a good job of it most of the year, I'd say. We won some games we weren't picked to win and some games that we were picked to get blown out in, we won.
"But in that game, some adversity showed up. We had some things not go our way, and we didn't respond very well."
Maumelle closed the season with a 35-31 comeback victory at Alma, amassing 446 total yards to finish 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the 5A-West. Maumelle also won at Greenbrier (21-18) in the conference opener.
"Normally, 4-3 will get you in," Horton said of the playoffs. "Everybody kind of beat up on each other."
Maumelle, which moves to the 5A-Central for the 2018-2020 cycle, returns 15 starters, including nine offensively.
The headliner is senior utility back Evan Robinson (6-2, 220 pounds), who has orally committed to Tennessee-Martin. Horton said Robinson is "very physical in the box" at tight end or H-back, but skilled enough to excel at wide receiver and as a Wildcat quarterback. Robinson has improved his quickness, Horton said, after losing 20 pounds in the offseason.
Horton said senior quarterback Xavion Morgan, who ran for 255 yards and two touchdowns against Alma, transferred to Little Rock McClellan in the offseason. Senior Tyler Maxwell (6-2, 190) is the projected starter at quarterback after transferring from Mayflower in the offseason.
"Tyler's a more traditional quarterback, but he's athletic enough to where you have to be accountable for him as well," Horton said. "He's got a big arm."
Horton said Maxwell will lead a Spread attack that features four returning starters up front -- junior left tackle Justin Ruffin (6-3, 200); senior center Mason Andrews (6-1, 225); senior right guard Malik Williams (6-2, 225); and senior right tackle Chel-c Hardin (6-3, 290) -- and "gifted" running backs in senior Antavious Henderson (5-7, 160) and senior Darius Thompson (5-10, 190).
Horton said junior wide receiver Zyon Slade (5-7, 153) has 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash.
"Offensively, I feel great," Horton said. "We've got lots of weapons."
Defensive holdovers include Robinson at end and Thompson, an All-State safety.
"My biggest concern is those new additions defensively, getting that up and running and getting that continuity as quickly as possible," Horton said.
Sports on 08/09/2018
Print Headline: Hornets attempt to beat 'adversity'