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El Dorado good when it matters

by Erick Taylor | September 5, 2021 at 2:01 a.m.

El Dorado wasn't trying to achieve perfection Thursday night against Camden Fairview. The Wildcats just wanted to be good enough when they had to be.

Coach Steven Jones said mission accomplished.

"Our defense made a couple of big plays when they had to and when they counted the most," he said of his team's 40-36 victory over Camden Fairview. "Right there at the end of the first half, we got a huge stop, and then, at the end of the game as well inside the 10-yard line. I thought those guys really played well considering the field position wasn't in their advantage all night."

What was in El Dorado's favor was the score by the time the final horn sounded.

Jones also wanted a solid outing on both sides of the ball from his team, especially after Camden Fairview's dominant showing at Arkadelphia a week earlier. The third-year coach got what he asked for and then some.

El Dorado finished with more than 400 yards of offense, powered by an effective night from quarterback Sharmon Rester. Defensively, the Wildcats accumulated seven sacks and had three guys record at least 10 tackles.

El Dorado led 40-21 late in the third quarter before the Cardinals made a closing push. Camden Fairview scored 15 consecutive points to pull within four and had a first and goal at the Wildcats' 7 with a little more than a minute to go but couldn't score.

"[Defense] had their backs against the wall but stood tall," Jones said. "The scoreboard didn't really reflect it, but the defense did a great job from the start. I thought Fairview may have had more yards in penalties [from El Dorado] than total yards on offense, but again, that's a testament to the effort our guys put in on that side of the ball. And the efficiency of our offense. ... I think that kind of set the tone, too.

"I thought we were very balanced, and not necessarily run/pass, but getting the ball out to our playmakers. We had four or five guys get at least three or four touches. That makes makes it tough to defend the field when you have that many guys out there that can go get it."

Rester did his part in distributing the ball to the Wildcats' skill guys. The senior, who connected on his first seven passes, threw for 247 yards with four touchdowns. He had a rushing score as well.

El Dorado had 154 yards on the ground, with Shadarioius Plummer carrying a team-high 12 times for 64 yards. Jackie Washington contributed 146 all-purpose yards with both a rushing and receiving touchdown.

There were a few things that weren't to Jones' liking, such as false-start infractions and pass-interference flags. But he wasn't overly concerned because he feels those types of mistakes are correctable.

"I was pleased with how aggressive we played," Jones said. "Some of the pass-interference calls, I just thought our guys were going up and making plays. I liked how we had a lot of energy all throughout the game, and I thought we were able to wear Fairview down in the end.

"All of it paid off for us. Any time you get momentum in nonconference play in the first game of the year on the road against a rival, it's huge for our program. Our kids worked their butt off all summer long, and it gives us a good feeling going into Cabot next week."

Streak ends

Valley View not only picked up a game on short notice but it also put a stop to a lengthy winning streak for a defending state champion in the process.

The Blazers got three touchdown runs and a touchdown pass from Carson Turley to knock off two-time reigning Class 3A titlist Harding Academy 31-30 on Friday night. The victory ended the Wildcats' 28-game winning streak over in-state competition.

Prior to the loss, the last time Harding Academy (1-1) had been beaten by a team from Arkansas was on Nov. 16, 2018, against Lamar in the second round of the postseason.

Valley View, which has reached the Class 5A playoffs in each of the past four seasons, was originally scheduled to face Gosnell, but that game was canceled Wednesday because of covid-19 quarantine protocols in the Pirates' program. Harding Academy had an open date and agreed to face the Blazers.

Doggone Pointers

There were no morsels to be gotten for Alma on Friday night.

Van Buren snagged every bite possible from the Airedales, who lost the Battle of the Bone rivalry game for the fourth year in a row.

The series started in 1923, and the teams have played every year since 1971. Van Buren holds a 40-30-5 overall lead after Friday's 31-20 victory. Alma, which made the short trip up U.S. 64 to face the Pointers, had won seven matchups in a row before Van Buren's 48-33 triumph in 2018 started its current string of wins.

The Airedales never led in their most recent encounter and trailed by 18 points at halftime. Alma trimmed that margin to 10 in the fourth quarter but didn't have enough to complete its comeback.

Covid-19 woes

There weren't many games affected by covid-19 during the first seven days of the 2021 high school football season.

All of that changed this past week.

At least 13 games were either canceled or postponed Friday for reasons pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic. There were a few teams that were able to find replacement opponents, such as Waldron taking on Gore (Okla.) after the Bulldogs' game with Mansfield was canceled.

Most of the games that were affected ended up being scrapped all together.

Epic comeback

Seven days after watching Pulaski Academy score 46 consecutive points to erase a seven-point deficit and pull away for a convincing victory, Joe T. Robinson mounted a rally of its own to cap a whirlwind night against Maumelle.

The Senators trailed 41-21 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 26 of the final 29 points to stage a 47-44 win in overtime.

The game was originally supposed to be played at Maumelle, but because the school is replacing the turf inside the stadium, it was moved to Robinson's Charlie George Stadium. That gave the Senators (1-1), who eventually lost to Pulaski Academy 60-27 last week, a second consecutive home game, and Robinson gave the home crowd something to cheer about.

Jack Cleveland capped his three-touchdown performance with a game-winning 10-yard score to Gkyson Wright in the extra period to provide the Senators with their first win of the year.

Shut out again

The first two weeks haven't been kind to Blytheville, Little Rock Southwest or Palestine-Wheatley.

Each of the three schools have lost two games. Making matters worse, neither has scored a point.

Blytheville, one of the favorites to win the 4A-3 Conference, has been outscored 63-0 in losses to Nettleton and Osceola. Southwest, which is in its second year of existence, lost to West Memphis and Little Rock Parkview by a combined 67-0. Palestine-Wheatley, winners of just three games over the past two seasons, has lost to Des Arc (52-0) and Marked Tree (34-0).

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