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RIVER VALLEY FOOTBALL: Greenwood, Pulaski Academy set to meet in much-anticipated 6A-West Conference showdown

by Leland Barclay | October 27, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
Greenwood wide receiver Grant Karnes (3) runs after a catch, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, during the first quarter of the Bulldogs' 24-0 win over Lake Hamilton at Smith-Robinson Stadium in Greenwood. Greenwood will host unbeaten Pulaski Academy on Friday in a game that will determine the 6A-West Conference championship. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

Greenwood hosts the most-anticipated game of the season on Friday night when the Bulldogs welcome Pulaski Academy to Smith-Robinson Stadium.

While Bryant hosted Cabot last week in just the 20th matchup between No. 1 and No. 2 in the regular season over the past 40 years, it was just a couple of weeks in the making after Cabot upset Conway three weeks ago.

Greenwood versus Pulaski Academy has been months in the making.

Since Pulaski Academy was elevated into Class 6A due to the Competitive Equity Factor in June, 2021, and the Bruins were placed into 6A-West along with Greenwood in December then shortly after when the conference schedules were released, Oct. 28 has been circled on everybody's calendar as the game of the year.

"It will be a special night in Greenwood," Greenwood coach Chris Young said. "Hopefully, we can keep up our end of the bargain. We haven't seen a game with kind of atmosphere in a long time. A lot of people have had this game circled and have been excited about it."

The two teams have combined for 20 state championships in the modern era of the playoffs, which began in 1968, with each winning 10.

Greenwood has dominated Class 6A over the past several years while Pulaski Academy has done the same in Class 5A.

The two last played each other in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs in 2009 with Pulaski Academy winning a low-scoring 21-14 game, which was in stark contrast to the 56-55 thriller that Greenwood won in the 2006 championship game.

The two programs have featured explosive high-flying offense and this year is no exception with Pulaski Academy averaging 53 points and 637 yards per game while Greenwood is averaging 46 points and 481 yards per outing.

"They want to throw the ball deep," Young said. "They want to deep-ball you."

Pulaski Academy, though, has been successful with an unorthodox manner with on-side kicks after every touchdown, never punting and going for two points after touchdowns.

"They're very unique," Young said. "No. 1, you have to field the onside kick. If you give them extra possessions, you're wasting a Friday night. No. 2, you have to win the fourth-down battle. No. 3, the two-point plays. They're not going to kick extra points, they're going to go for two. They kind of get in your head some."


In a rush

Southside won its second straight 7A-West game with another outstanding rushing performance.

Running back Isaac Gregory and quarterback Carter Zimmerman combined for 500 yards on the ground in a 55-44 win at Springdale Har-Ber on Friday.

Gregory rushed 29 times for 260 yards and for the second week in a row ran for five touchdowns.

Zimmerman added 17 carries for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

Gregory had 15 carries for 163 yards in the second half and scored on runs of 6, 20, 32 and 37 yards.

Zimmerman had 113 yards on nine totes in the final half. He had touchdown runs of 80 and 6 yards in the first half, and 1 yard in the second half.

"When somebody's got a dynamic runner at quarterback, it really puts a huge stress on the defense," Southside coach Kim Dameron said. "For us to have Carter in there and for him to make the runs that he made, and Isaac runs extremely hard."

Southside trailed 38-21 after Har-Ber scored on the opening drive of the second half, but the Mavericks' defense had four straight stops to key the rally.

"That was huge in the second half because we didn't stop anybody in the first half," Dameron said. "It was a good job by the staff and the players alike to make the adjustments that we needed to make, and for the players to make those adjustments on the flight on the field to put us in position to get the stops. Then the momentum by our offense was big."

Gregory and Zimmerman became the first 200-yard rushing duo for the Mavericks since Julius Jones ran 23 times for 237 yards and four scores and David Price added 16 carries for 202 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-29 win over Northside in the regular-season finale in 2010.


Playoffs begin

Subiaco Academy travels to Fountain Lake on Friday to begin the Class 3A 8-man playoffs.

The large-school division is not sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association like the Class 1A and 2A 8-man playoffs, but nonetheless is big for the Trojans.

Subiaco Academy has played for the state championship each of the past two seasons in 8-man but this year faces a tough challenge with the first-round game.

Fountain Lake won, 43-34, in the regular-season meeting between the two teams three weeks ago.

"One thing we didn't do in that game, we didn't tackle well," Subiaco Academy coach Adam Creek said. "We have to give a lot of the credit to Fountain Lake, their kids are hard to tackle. We were arm-tackling a lot. We've been working on getting a hat on people and to tackle. That will be big."

Subiaco Academy rallied with Anthony Gehrig scoring on an 18-yard run and Nick Gehrig scoring on a 29-yard pass to Chris Ramirez on consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34-34.

Fountain Lake's Juan Diggs ran for 127 yards and had 130 receiving yards for Fountain Lake. In Friday's 49-20 win over Cutter Morning Star in the regular season finale, Diggs scored five touchdowns. He caught two touchdown passes, ran for two scores and returned a fumble at the goal line for a touchdown, officially 99 yards.

"They've got a lot of weapons, and we've got to be able to get them on the ground when we get to them," Creek said. "It seems like every position they do well at."



The Golden Arrows will not have all of their weapons in the quiver to close the season.

Multi-faceted senior quarterback Maddox Noel suffered an injury two weeks against Greenland, did not play in the 21-20 loss to Mansfield on Friday and is lost for the season.

Noel finished with 782 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing and 781 yards and 12 touchdowns passing in seven games.

Without Noel, Lavaca's offense managed just 197 yards, 11 first downs and 2-of-9 third-down conversions against Mansfield.

Lavaca closes the season against Booneville and Charleston.

Print Headline: Showdown awaiting Bulldogs


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