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PREP FOOTBALL REPORT: Bearcats leaders on and off field

by LELAND BARCLAY and HENRY APPLE NWA Democrat-Gazette | June 19, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Macro shot of American football ball background football tile / Getty Images

Dunn Daniel, Brooks Herrera and Peyton Tatum were recently recognized for being leaders off the field for the Booneville Bearcats.

The three were selected for Arkansas Boys State and spent a week in Conway and at the Arkansas state capital at Little Rock. Boys State is sponsored by the American Legion. Students are nominated by their teachers, counselors and principals based on leadership, character, scholarship, loyalty and service both in their schools and community.

"It was a cool experience to sit on the House floor," Herrera said. "You have to give a speech. I wasn't really thinking about it or anything. All of a sudden, I'm in it."

Herrera was elected as a delegate from his group to the State Senate and State House of Representatives where they build a mock government structure with eight congressional districts with four senators and 12 representatives.

"It was so much fun," Tatum said. "I met a lot of cool people there and learned a lot about elections and stuff."

Daniel carries a 4.2 grade point average.

Daniel, Herrera and Tatum are all returning starters for the Bearcats and are seniors. They also played for Booneville's baseball team that qualified for the state tournament. Daniel and Tatum were all-conference in baseball. Herrera was all-state.

Tatum is vying for the quarterback spot along with sophomore Jace Washburn, who guided Booneville to the junior high conference title last season.

"Both of them are competing," Booneville coach Doc Crowley said. "We're trying to solidify that spot and get those guys comfortable."

They'll try to fill the shoes left by the graduation of Randon Ray, the all-time leading rusher in Booneville history.

"Replacing Randon is a big task, but those guys are doing a good job," Crowley said. "That's the main thing, we're trying to get our quarterback comfortable and go from there."

Tatum has experience at quarterback but has been in the shadow of Ray his whole career at Booneville. He's been using the summer work to get used to engineering Booneville's run-fueled option offense that threw just 17 passes last season.

"I've played it all my life, I've just been behind Randon," Tatum said. "I haven't really started much so I want to get experience out of it."

He also definitely has the brains to play the position already scoring a 31 on his American College Test.

"He's a very smart kid," Crowley said. "It's his turn to do it, and I think he'll do a really good job. He's just got to work on ball security."

Herrera averaged 14 yards per carry last year with 30 carries for 420 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he also logged 24.5 tackles and had three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

Daniel had 38.5 tackles with one interception.

Tatum had 131 yards and a touchdown in backup duty last year at quarterback and had 31.5 tackles and an interception on defense. He threw a touchdown pass as a sophomore


Sorg out for 2022 season

Senior David Sorg will miss the upcoming football season after having surgery to repair his shoulder.

"He just had partial Tommy John surgery," Mavs Coach Kim Dameron said. "It wasn't a full tear or full reconstruction. Hopefully, he will get back in time for baseball season."

Sorg threw for 28 touchdown passes last season and for 2,849 yards, which was the fourth highest single-season total in Southside history. He completed 262 of 438 passes, which is the most ever thrown by a Southside quarterback in a season. He threw for 1,089 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore.

"He hurt it during baseball and we somewhat anticipated that it could be a possibility," Dameron said. "He didn't go through spring ball. We're wishing nothing but the best for David and hoping he heals quickly. He's more of a baseball guy than he is a football guy. Obviously, his future is going to be in baseball. We're hoping he stays on track and heals."

George Herrell and Carter Zimmerman took the snaps for the Mavericks during spring practice and into summer drills at quarterback.

Southside has a pair of linemen camps at Springdale Har-Ber remaining before returning to team workouts in July.


Panthers prep for new-look 5A-West

The Panthers continue to prepare for the new-look 5A-West.

"It's changed a lot," Coach Khris Buckner said. "It's still going to be highly competitive. Every game we play is going to be a dogfight. The last six years, we've had our set opponents. It will be exciting. You still have the upper echelon teams that historically is at the top."

Harrison and Alma are the veteran schools of the conference, but Clarksville is next to go with Farmington, which begins its ninth season in the league, and Pea Ridge, which has been in the league the last two seasons, along with newcomers Dardanelle, Prairie Grove and Shiloh Christian, who all elevated from Class 4A.

"It doesn't hurt our feelings losing Greenbrier and Vilonia," Buckner said. "We're getting three quality 4A schools. They're good additions to our conference."

Clarksville returns Arthur Alvarez, who will be one of the top running backs in the conference as a three-year starter. He ran for three touchdowns in the wild 54-49 loss at Pea Ridge last year.

"Arthur Alvarez is our dude in the backfield," Buckner said.

Matt Colvin, 6-3, 275, will be one of the top offensive linemen in the 5A-West.

"Has taken on the lead on the team," Buckner said. "He's getting a lot of attention. He's a really good player."


Wolves showing growth

Lincoln went through its final team camp of June at Charleston on Monday before the Arkansas Activities Association's two-week dead period.

"We got a lot of reps, and that's always a good thing," Lincoln coach Reed Mendoza said. "We got some guys some experience. We've had good numbers and participation. We've seen some growth."

Mendoza welcomes back three-sport standout Drew Moore at quarterback.

"Especially a kid that's smart and runs the offense well," Mendoza said. "He really commands us on the field. He gets us in the out and makes sure we're lined up correctly. He communicates well. He does all of those things for us. He's like having a coach out there."

As a sophomore last season, Moore completed 144-of-254 passes for 1,853 yards and 13 touchdowns. In a 68-47 loss to Hackett, Moore completed 25-of-42 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns.

"We were sophomore-heavy last year," Mendoza said. "We've had a good offseason. We had a good freshman group, too."

Lincoln will participate in one more team camp in July and 7-on-7 activities every Monday in July.


Bulldogs have QB battle

Springdale coach Brett Hobbs said his team's biggest need during summer workouts is having a quarterback step in to replace two-year starter Landon Phipps, now at Arkansas as a preferred walkon.

"We have a lot of returners coming back at the skill positions," Hobbs said. "We have three starters coming back on the offensive line and seven guys coming back on defense. But the one position we didn't have any experience in was at quarterback.

"I think during the offseason, the spring workouts and the summer, we have developed them and we have some that are going to push each other as far as who will be the quarterback this year."

Junior Cayden Aaserude missed all of last season with a broken collarbone, while sophomores Marcus Shepherd and Jack Pounders have stated their cases for the starting role. Shepherd was the starting quarterback at Lakeside Junior High last fall, while Pounders started at George Junior High.

It's a battle that may not have a winner determined until Springdale enters its fall camp.

"I think it's anybody's ball game right now," Hobbs said. "I think we have two different styles of quarterbacks. With Cayden Aaserude, he runs the ball well and runs the team well. Jack Pounders can throw the ball well and he's mature for a sophomore with good size."

-- Henry Apple


Second time around benefits Elks

Elkins coach Zach Watson said last summer was a learning experience for both himself and his team as he tried to implement a new system there.

The Elks now seek bigger rewards this year as they begin a second season under Watson.

"Our kids know so much more from where I was a year ago," Watson said. "We couldn't put in our whole offense or our entire defensive schemes. This year, it's been fun because we get to go more in-depth with them.

"Just the retention of knowledge and what we do have been so well with the kids that we've been able to add a lot more stuff in. It's been fun early on this summer."

Watson said he expects his team to be a little bit different this season, especially with two quality quarterbacks battling for the starting role. Junior Dizzy Dean and sophomore Landon Neal both have big arms, and the Elks plan to use that to their advantage.

"I think we will be able to stretch out the field a lot more vertically with them," Watson said. "So that will be a lot more fun."

Elkins has experienced a good increase in numbers during the offseason. The Elks finished with 42 players last season, and Watson said he has 56 taking part in summer workouts.

The Elks have used the first half of their summer workouts to take part in team camps. Elkins will wait until the completion of the athletic dead period to take part in 7-on-7 competitions.

-- Henry Apple

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