Har-Ber restores the roar with shutout on defense

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Springdale Har-Ber students celebrate Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, before the start of the first half against Russellville at Wildcat Stadium in Springdale. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the game.

SPRINGDALE -- Friday the 13th marked a return to normalcy for Springdale Har-Ber.

Springdale defeated Russellville 49-0 in a game where its defense was dominant, especially in the first half when Russellville didn't manage a first down until late in the second quarter. That's quite a contrast from Aug. 29 when Har-Ber piled up over 600 yards of total offense, scored 68 points, and lost.

But that's what Pulaski Academy can do to teams. The Bruins are unconventional, a team that truly tries to just outscore people. They're greedy, in a football sense. They want the ball all the time, and they'll on-side kick after touchdowns just to get it back.

Pulaski Academy attempted an on-side kick a dozen times against Har-Ber and made one recovery that led to six points. The Bruins finished with 84 behind quarterback Braden Bratcher, who threw for 693 yards and eight touchdowns in one game.

But Friday was different, much different.

Har-Ber was so confident in its defense the Wildcats gambled on fourth down in its own territory in the second quarter and picked up a first down. The Har-Ber defense also contributed scores on interception returns for touchdowns by JuJuan Boyd and Cole Bowen.

"We wanted to make a statement," senior linebacker Gabriel Baker said. "We talked about that so much. Honestly, we had a chip on our shoulder and felt a little embarrassed about what happened against PA. That was good for us and tonight turned out really well."

The whipping pleased Har-Ber students in the Wood Shed, where teens dressed like cowboys and cowgirls broke into a rendition of the 1970s John Denver hit "Take Me Home, Country Road" in the fourth quarter.

That's exactly what Boyd did seconds later when he returned an interception into the end zone.

Boyd and J.B. Brown were inserted into the starting lineup Friday after not playing against Pulaski Academy.

"They bring great physicality, and they're football smart," Har-Ber defensive coordinator Travis Moreland said. "They're leaders for our defense, and they really rally the kids."

Every team has a Rudy, and the Har-Ber students led the rally call for Tanner Sisco, a senior reserve who saw action in the fourth quarter. Sisco was recognized, sort of, when he was one of the tacklers when the public address announcer said "several Wildcats in on the play."

So, the optimism Har-Ber displayed after winning an elite 7-on-7 tournament at Shiloh Christian has returned. But Har-Ber won't kick up its heels for long because Pine Bluff comes to town next week, and the Zebras will be faster and more explosive than the Cyclones, who've fizzled during an 0-2 start.

Friday was great night for Har-Ber, which began the process of putting an 84-68 loss behind it.

Preps Sports on 09/14/2019