PREP FOOTBALL: With game on line, Wildcats turn to Taylor, who delivers

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Hector needed every one of its points last Friday night against Clarendon.

The Wildcats (2-1-1) won 31-30 and had their do-it-all quarterback Jackson Taylor to thank for 19 of those points.

Taylor, a 5-8 junior, is the Wildcats' starter at quarterback, but it was his rushing production that has earned him Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Player of the Week honors.

During the victory, Taylor completed 21 of 35 passes for 233 yards and rushed nine times for 43 yards. He rushed for two of Hector's four touchdowns, with running back Brent Casto accounting for the others.

Hector and Clarendon (2-1) traded scores late in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats trailed 30-28 and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, they turned to a familiar face -- Jackson Taylor.

Taylor has been Hector's kicker all season, making 12 of his 13 extra-point attempts, including all four against Clarendon. Taylor also assumed kicker responsibilities last season and went 28 for 28 on extra-point tries.

But Friday was the first time Taylor was called upon for a field-goal attempt. Hector had managed to not attempt one through its first three games. But against Clarendon, Taylor got two attempts.

Taylor missed his first try earlier in the game, but Hector Coach Trevor Cooper said he had no doubts about his second attempt, this time to win the game.

"The moment is never too big for him," Cooper said. "If there's a play that needs to be made, he's there.

Cooper said he had plenty of faith in Taylor because of what it takes to play both positions.

"He has a lot on his plate all the time," Cooper said. "To be a quarterback and a kicker, you have to have a short-term memory."

Taylor made a 22-yard field goal to win the game and give Hector a winning record for the first time this season.

"We have confidence in Jackson as a kicker," Cooper said. "We knew that if everything before the kick went to plan, he'd make it.

"It's a win that our kids and I will never forget."

The win put an end to a gauntlet of a nonconference slate for Hector. The Wildcats defeated Clarendon and defending Class 2A state champion McCrory (21-8), lost to Marked Tree (54-19) and tied Quitman (28-28) to enter their conference schedule above .500.

In those four games, Taylor has passed for 780 yards, rushed for 140yards and scored 10 touchdowns.

"This is the toughest nonconference [schedule] we've ever had," Cooper said. "We've had to play down to the wire in each game. Our kids are battle-tested. They've had to fight and claw for each game."

Taylor and the Wildcats will begin 2A-1 Conference play at home Friday against Johnson County Westside.