Today's Paper Arkansas News Legislature Newsletters Core Values Sports Public Notices Archive Obits Puzzles Opinion Story Ideas


August 21, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

CLASS 6A | Leland Barclay



Loaded 6A-West a challenge for all


Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette

The road to Little Rock and War Memorial Stadium for the state championship game just got a lot rougher and bumpier in the 6A-West.

The new Classification and Competitive Equity Factor passed last year by the Arkansas Activities Association, which uses a points system to determine if private schools are determined to be dominant, elevated Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian to Class 6A and into the 6A-West.

Greenbrier was also elevated due to increased enrollment to Class 6A and placed in the 6A-West.

The addition of those three schools as well in what is now a nine-team alignment makes for not only a tougher but also longer grind.

"I think the AAA calls it competitive equity, but I'm not sure they've made it competitive," Greenwood coach Chris Young said. "It seems like they stuck them all in our conference, but we're excited. It's a challenge. We like playing great football teams and they're going to get that opportunity this year."

Pulaski Academy has won 10 state championships in all, including seven of the last eight in Class 5A.

Little Rock Christian won the state championship four years ago and has played in three championship games in the last five years.

Greenbrier also makes the move up and lost to Pulaski Academy in the semifinals last year.

"You look back at last year and they are three of the final four teams in Class 5A in the state," Young said. "Top to bottom, it's going to be really, really good."

All three of the new teams are also known for having high-powered wide-open offenses.

"We've always been in a conference with great offenses and you add PA, Little Rock Christian and Greenbrier in and you thought it was good in the past just wait until this year," Young said. "Those are three great programs and three great coaches."

The conference schedule starts two weeks early on Sept. 9 with the nine-team alignment but will definitely reach the crescendo the final two weeks of the season when Greenwood, which also has won 10 state championships overall, meets Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian.

Van Buren, Siloam Springs, Russellville, Lake Hamilton, and Mountain Home all remain in the conference while last year's conference champion, Benton, was shifted to the 6A-East.

"It's a very, very tough conference," Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig said. "I can't imagine there's a tougher conference out there. It's going to be a huge challenge for our kids. We're just going to strap up our boots and go to work."

Greenwood, Little Rock Christian and Mountain Home are the only schools returning experienced quarterbacks in the quarterback-centric conference with Hunter Houston returning at Greenwood, Walker White at Little Rock Christian and Brady Barnett at Mountain Home.

"It's a great conference for quarterbacks," Craig said.

Pulaski Academy junior Kel Busby did receive quite a bit of playing time in a mop-up role while Van Buren junior Bryce Perkins started the first four games of the season before suffering a season-ending injury.

"That was tough to bounce back from," Van Buren coach Moe Henry said. "We had gotten to the part of our schedule that was going to be tough regardless if we had everybody in deck anyway. We just happened to have our play caller go down when we got to the juggernaut of the schedule."

Greenbrier and Siloam Springs will likely turn to sophomores to guide their offenses while Russellville and Lake Hamilton will play inexperienced juniors at the position.




2021 RECORD 4-6, 1-6 6A-West

COACH Moe Henry

RETURNING STARTERS 6 offense, 5 defense

KEY PLAYERS WR Malachi Henry (Sr., 6-1, 175), QB Bryce Perkins (Jr., 6-2, 175), WR Andrew Hammond (Sr., 6-0, 160), LB Grant King (Sr., 5-10, 205), OL Sam Shepherd (Sr., 6-3, 285), WR Tobey Sayaxomphou (Sr., 6-0, 170).

THE SKINNY Van Buren won its first four games last year before quarterback Bryce Perkins and receiver Andrew Hammond suffered season-ending injuries. ... The Pointers scored just 11 touchdowns in their final six games. ... Malachi Henry is one of the state's top playmakers, catching 60 passes for 1,152 yards and 14 touchdowns last year but will miss the first few games of the season after arthroscopic knee surgery in early August. ... The Pointers averaged just 102 yards per game rushing last season. ... Van Buren won four straight games against rival Alma. ... Van Buren doesn't play at home until the fourth playing date of the season and has just four home games.

THAT'S WHAT HE SAID "The big thing is Bryce being back and healthy but before we lost him we lost Andrew Hammond, who was being very productive. It was a matter of getting our quarterback situation going that could help with the flow of our offense. We ended up putting Malachi in the backfield at quarterback to run some offense so that takes away our top two receivers. Our defense didn't do a great job of helping during that period. It was tough." -- Moe Henry


Aug. 23; at Alma#;Oct. 7; at Russellville*

Sept. 2; at FS Southside;Oct. 14; Pulaski Academy*

Sept. 16; Greenbrier*;Oct. 21; at LR Christian*

Sept. 23; at Greenwood*;Oct. 27; Mountain Home*

Sept. 30; Lake Hamilton*;Nov. 4; at Siloam Springs*

* -- Denotes 6A-West Conference game

All kickoffs 7 p.m. unless noted

# -- 7:30 p.m. kickoff



2021 RECORD 9-4, 5-2 6A-West

COACH Chris Young

RETURNING STARTERS 5 offense, 3 defense

KEY PLAYERS QB Hunter Houston (Sr., 6-2, 202), WR Aiden Kennon (Sr., 6-1, 185), RB Jake Glover (Sr., 5-5, 145), OL Hayden Webb (Sr., 6-0, 298), OL Cooper Young (Sr., 6-4, 230), LB Evan Williams (Sr., 6-1, 190).

THE SKINNY Greenwood played in its second straight state championship game last year, losing to El Dorado, and appeared in its seventh straight semifinal. ... The Bulldogs return plenty of offensive firepower with returning starters Hunter Houston at quarterback, receivers Aiden Kennon, L.J. Robins, and Grant Karnes and running backs Javon Williamson and Jake Glover, both who suffered broken legs last year. ... Greenwood's offense scored 506 points last year and averaged 460 yards per game. ... The Bulldogs finish the regular season with games against Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian, two teams elevated from Class 5A due to the Competitive Equity Factor. ... The Bulldogs motto this season is the Latin term Tabula Rasa, which means a blank or clean slate.

THAT'S WHAT HE SAID "We lost some tough ball games last year. There is a lot of unfinished business and these guys feel like they have something to prove. It's exciting when you've got a quarterback and skilled kids around him. It gives you an opportunity to be pretty good." -- Chris Young


Aug. 26; at Stillwater, Okla.:Sept. 30; at Greenbrier*

Sept. 2; FS Northside;Oct. 14; Lake Hamilton*

Sept. 9; Mountain Home*;Oct. 21; at Russellville*

Sept. 16; at Siloam Springs*;Oct. 27; Pulaski Academy*

Sept. 23; Van Buren*;Nov. 4; at LR Christian*

* -- Denotes 6A-West Conference game

All kickoffs 7 p.m. unless noted



2021 RECORD 1-9, 0-7 6A-West

COACH Brandon Craig

RETURNING STARTERS 4 offense, 8 defense

KEY PLAYERS QB Jackson Still (Soph., 5-10, 158), RB Jed Derwin (Jr., 5-8, 195), WR Jonathon Graves (Sr., 6-5, 172), WR/CB Nick Driscoll (Sr., 5-11, 147), LB Stone Stephens (Sr., 6-0, 193), OL Saul Urena (Jr., 5-11, 215), OL Justin Burton (Jr., 5-7, 248).

THE SKINNY The Panthers are looking to bounce back from a 1-9 season in 2021, where they lost three games by four points or less. ... The Panthers missed the postseason in 2021 for the first time under Craig. ... Sophomore Jackson Still takes the helm at quarterback after leading the freshman team to a 5-5 record in the rugged Northwest Arkansas Conference. ... Still is one of several sophomores expected to play a lot this season. ... The Panthers return several offensive skill players in wide receivers Jonathon Graves and Nick Driscoll and running back Jed Derwin. ... Linebacker Stone Stephens heads up the Panthers' defense. ... Siloam Springs hosts Alma on Sept. 2 and travels to Greenbrier Sept. 9. The Panthers and Airedales have not played in football since 2014, while Siloam Springs and Greenbrier haven't played since 2011. ... Private schools Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy moved from Class 5A to Class 6A via the competitive equity rule.

THAT'S WHAT HE SAID "We are going to be young this year. We've got a lot of sophomores that are going to play for us. But I see those guys have stepped up. They've had good summers, and they're starting show signs of grasping everything we're trying to get across to them. We're excited about having them, even though we know it's going to be a learning curve and it's going to be really fast for them. They're going to have to play."


Aug. 26;at Rogers Heritage;Sept. 30;Russellville*

Sept. 2;Alma;Oct. 7;at Pulaski Academy*

Sept. 9;at Greenbrier;Oct. 14;LR Christian*

Sept. 16;Greenwood*;Oct. 21;at Mountain Home*

Sept. 23;at Lake Hamilton*;Nov. 4;Van Buren*

* -- Denotes 6A-West Conference game

All kickoffs 7 p.m. unless noted




SCHOOL Van Buren

POSITION Quarterback

CLASS Junior




THE DIGITS Perkins completed 59-of-97 passes for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 71 yards and three touchdowns before suffering a season-ending injury in the first quarter of the fifth game of the season against Russellville.




I BINGE WATCH Stranger Things

I'M TERRIFIED OF Drowning, the dark and heights


I DRIVE a Ford Explorer


WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT FOOTBALL IS the team and the environment

IN 10 YEARS I WILL be coaching

Print Headline: CLASS 6A PREVIEWS


Sponsor Content