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Pulaski Academy has won four consecutive Class 5A state championships.

The Bruins could make it five in a row Sunday and become the first team in the state's modern era to achieve the feat.

Standing in the way of the Bruins' goal is their 5A-Central Conference rival Little Rock Christian.

The two Little Rock private schools are separated by 5.7 miles in west Little Rock. They'll meet at War Memorial Stadium at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Class 5A state championship game.

Pulaski Academy senior tight end Hudson Henry, who has orally committed to the University of Arkansas, is hopeful that the Bruins can earn a fifth consecutive title and the school's eighth overall, all led by Coach Kevin Kelley.

"Everybody says that there's pressure," said Henry, who has caught 86 passes for 1,207 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. "Oh, gosh, winning five in a row, nobody's ever done that. We like to do things nobody's ever done. We never punt, we always go onside. We always do things that are unusual. That's part of our repertoire. We just do the impossible.

"Honestly, if we can win five, it would be an amazing feeling."

In the state's modern era of the football playoffs, which began in 1968, only two teams have won four state championships in a row -- Barton in 1986-1989 and Pulaski Academy, which began its current title run in 2014.

Along with Henry, senior wide receiver John David White, who leads the Bruins receivers with 77 receptions for 1,532 yards and 26 touchdowns, is wanting to win another state title at Pulaski Academy.

"That's all we've been thinking about," White said. "Ever since we've won our fourth, I've been thinking about winning our fifth. That's history. Everybody's name would be etched into the record book. It would be so much fun to say you're part of the five-peat.

"If we do win it, it's because we've worked hard and we did everything the coaches have been telling us to do."

Pulaski Academy defeated Wynne in the 2014 and 2016 title games and Little Rock McClellan in 2015 and 2017. It's the first time the Bruins will play Little Rock Christian in a state final, but the Bruins did defeat the Warriors 42-7 in the 2015 Class 5A semifinals in a driving rainstorm at Warrior Field.

Class 5A state championship

LR CHRISTIAN VS. PULASKI ACADEMY

WHEN 2 p.m. Sunday

WHERE War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock

TV AETN (KETS in Little Rock, KEMV in Mountain View, KETG in Arkadelphia, KAFT in Fayetteville, KTEJ in Jonesboro and KETZ in El Dorado)

RADIO KABZ-FM, 103.7, in Little Rock

INTERNET aaa.statbroadcast.com

Kelley has led Pulaski Academy to seven state championships since he became the Bruins' coach in 2003 and will coach his 10th title game today. He said he doesn't mind being the hunted instead of the hunter.

"Would you rather be on the other side chasing your first one or would you rather chase your fifth in a row?" Kelley told his team. "That's what we're looking at. I think they've embraced that. They know what's at stake. They know that Little Rock Christian is capable of winning their first one. But they don't want it to happen on their watch."

The Bruins won the teams' first meeting this season 56-14 on Sept. 28. They totaled 586 yards and were led by junior quarterback Braden Bratcher's three touchdowns, including two passing.

Little Rock Christian was without senior quarterback Justice Hill against Pulaski Academy because of a hamstring injury. Coach Eric Cohu acknowledged this week that the Warriors weren't at full strength against the Bruins earlier this season, but after the loss, he wanted his team to move on from it. Since the setback at Joe B. Hatcher Field, the Warriors have won eight consecutive games.

"Champions turn the page," Cohu said. "We immediately focused on the next thing, which was [Little Rock] Fair the next week. Week in and week out, we focused on the opponent.

"We're excited getting another opportunity at them [Pulaski Academy]."

Entering this season, the Bruins had to replace several key starters, including quarterback Layne Hatcher, who went 41-1 as a three-year starter, and wide receiver Tra Johnson, who had 37 touchdown catches in his career. But Bratcher (4,316 yards, 52 touchdowns), White and Henry have helped the Bruins not miss a beat in 2018.

"Last year, we called those guys [Hatcher and Johnson] coaches. They knew what they messed up on before we had to say anything to them," Kelley said. "This year, our coaches have had to teach a lot more because we had three returning starters on offense and defense. They've been ready to be coached.

"It's been fun. They're ready to run through the wall."

Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian are two of the state's highest-scoring offenses. The Bruins are averaging 51.3 points per game while the Warriors are at 48.9 points per game.

"It ought to be an outstanding ballgame," Kelley said. "If you were in Las Vegas and they wanted to have a favorite on this one, it would be tough to pick one."

Sports on 11/30/2018

Print Headline: Pulaski Academy seeking its fifth consecutive 5A title

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