Class 5A Week 1 Rankings, Notes and Picks

Class 5A Week 1 Rankings, Notes and Picks

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Hootens.com Rankings
Class 5A, Week 1, 2017
Copyright Hooten Publishing, Inc.

1. Pulaski Academy
2. Wynne
3. Alma
4. Batesville
5. LR Christian
6. Harrison
7. HS Lakeside
8. Morrilton
9. Greenbrier
10. LR McClellan
11. White Hall
12. Sylvan Hills
13. Watson Chapel
14. Blytheville
15. Camden Fairview
16. Nettleton
17. Beebe
18. Valley View
19. Maumelle
20. Hot Springs
21. Vilonia
22. Magnolia
23. Forrest City
24. LR Parkview
25. Farmington
26. Mills
27. De Queen
28. Paragould
29. Hope
30. Clarksville
31. Greene Co. Tech
32. LR Fair

GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 2 Wynne at Marion

Wynne has won four of the past seven in the series, but the Yellowjackets haven't won in Marion since 2003. Wynne advanced to the state title game last fall for the second time in three seasons, but former coach Chris Hill left for Harding University in the winter. First-year coach Van Paschal installed his version of the Flexbone in the spring and summer, and the Yellowjackets switch to a 3-4 defense after a starting linebacker moved to Valley View. “It's been a fast whirlwind,” Paschal says. Senior guard Erik South (5-10, 305) missed most of the off-season with a knee injury, then hurt it again in early August, Paschal says. Senior fullback Ta'Von Hicks and quarterback Luke Chapman enjoyed a productive off-season. Hicks ran for 1,993 yards and 27 touchdowns last fall, while Chapman had more than 700 yards. Senior defensive end Logan Jessup (eight sacks in 11 games) returned to full strength in August after breaking his leg in November.

Marion relies on an undersized, but speedy, defensive front this fall. Senior all-conference defensive end Demont Chalmers made 38 stops a year ago. The Patriots averaged 37 points per game last fall, and scored at least six touchdowns in five conference games.

TV SHOW
Hooten's Arkansas Football airs 10:30 a.m. Saturday's on KATV (ABC Little Rock) Channel 7, covering the Razorbacks, high school teams and players to watch. Fountain Lake quarterback Stephen Turner receives the prestigious Arkansas Air Guard Scholar Athlete of the Week award on this Saturday's show.

LAST YEAR
Hootens.com correctly predicted 277 of 322 games (86 percent).

WEEK 1 PREDICTIONS (favored team in CAPS followed by point spread)
5A CENTRAL

LR MCCLELLAN (2) at Sheridan: LR McClellan beat Sheridan by 23 points in the 2015 opener (didn't play last year). The Lion's top linebacker transferred to LR Central in May. Sheridan first-year coach Lance Parker spent the summer teaching the Yellowjackets how to pass and catch. “We had guys catch more balls in one practice than they caught the past couple of years,” Parker says. Parker implemented his system in Sheridan's junior high and pee wee leagues.
LR Christian vs. WARREN (6) (Tue.): Defending Class 4A champion Warren faces a brutal non-conference schedule with LR Christian, Stuttgart and Watson Chapel. Junior athlete Jmalachi Kinnard switches from receiver to quarterback. LR Christian first-year coach Eric Cohu impressed opposing coaches in the summer with his organization. But the Warriors won just five games lat year and have only 11 seniors.
GREENBRIER (8) at Beebe: Greenbrier has won six of the past seven in the series, including 54-33 a year ago. The Panthers bank on defense early this fall, with four returnees in the secondary, including junior safety Seth Howard (68 tackles in 2016) and cornerback Logan Beaird. Beebe junior halfback Taylor Boyce ran for 614 yards and 13 TDs last season.
LR PARKVIEW (1) at Star City: LR Parkview running back Zach Smith (4.37 speed) impressed opponents in summer team camps. First-year coach Brad Bolding installed a 3-4 defense in the spring, after the Patriots gave six TDs or more eight times last year. Star City linemen Jax Gasaway (6-6, 265) and J.C. Masey (5-11, 215) performed well in summer team camps.
LR HALL (6) at LR Fair: LR Hall has just two wins in the past six seasons, while LR Fair is 3-37 in the past four years, including two forfeit victories.
JACKSONVILLE (3) at Mills: Jacksonville has beaten Mills by a combined 67 points the past three years. Mills goes to a Spread offense this fall. Senior guard Cortaz Floyd and defense end Braylen Cloird played well in the summer.
PULASKI ACADEMY (10) at Sand Springs, Okla.: Three-time defending state champ Pulaski Academy pounded the Sandites by 35 points last season. Bruin senior QB Layne Hatcher passed for 4,656 yards and 58 TDs a year ago.
Sylvan Hills at LR CATHOLIC (1): These former conference rivals were members of the former AAAA-Central from 1991-1995 and played non conference from 2002-2007. Sylvan Hills has 15 straight non conference victories, including last year’s 14-point triumph over the Rockets. The Bears moved all-conference receiver Ryan Lumpkin to QB in the summer.

5A EAST
WYNNE (6) at Marion:
Hootens.com Class 5A Game of the Week.
JONESBORO (11) vs. Batesville (Thurs., at ASU): Both expect to contend for state titles this year. Jonesboro has been to the semifinals five of the past six seasons (lost by four points in the quarterfinals a year ago), while Batesville has been seven straight times.
BLYTHEVILLE (10) at Osceola: Blytheville has beaten neighbor Osceola the past three seasons by a combined 113 points. Coach Ben Fisher won't name a starting QB until Sept. 1, after juniors Jahiem “Pee Wee” Carter and Jackson Howard split snaps in the summer and in the benefit scrimmage at Mountain Home.
WEST MEMPHIS (21) at Forrest City: West Memphis hasn't lost to Forrest City since 1996. Blue Devil senior Michael Troxler likely takes over at QB, allowing Amarius Stinnett to play more at receiver. Forrest City junior QB Randal Moore (1,786 yards) must carry the Mustangs early.
VILONIA (16) at Greene County Tech: Greene Co. Tech has 11 wins the past six seasons and the Eagles have lost 18 straight since beating Newport Week 2, 2015. They return 22 seniors this fall, including 16 with starting experience. Vilonia senior running backs Ben Duff and Isaiah Rocha combined for 843 yards a year ago.
Pocahontas at NETTLETON (7): Pocahontas' improved team speed surprised opponents in the summer. Two-way lineman Jake Hardage (6-6, 339) dominates opponents and owns an SEC offer from Mississippi State. Nettleton QB Deondre Henry passed for more than 1,300 yards last season.
Paragould at RIVERCREST (1): Paragould has won two of the past three in the series, including last year's 44-6 decision. But the Rams expect around 30 players this fall. Rivercrest junior QB Demilon Brown had almost 600 yards last fall.
SEARCY (3) at Valley View: This could be a shootout with solid QB's. Searcy senior Mason Schucker passed for 1,793 yards and 15 TDs last year, while Valley View senior Joseph Waleszonia passed for 960 yards and ran for 1,122 yards. Valley View's defense received a boost when senior Mason Burnett moved back to the district in June. Burnett had 90 tackles last year for Class 5A runner-up Wynne.

5A SOUTH
HS LAKESIDE (7) vs. Joe T. Robinson (Mon.):
Joe T. Robinson won the matchup by 23 points last year, but Hot Springs Lakeside returns six starters on offense, including running back Dupree Swanson (1,494 yards and 23 TDs). The Rams employ more runs this fall with speedy junior QB Taylor Gilham. Joe T. Robinson receiver Nathan Page (1,118 yards and 14 TDs in 2016), arguably the state's top recruit, played well in seven-on-sevens.
EL DORADO (8) at Camden Fairview: El Dorado linemen Denzel Walter (6-2, 305) and Terry Hampton (6-1, 265) were dominate in the spring. Camden Fairview should dress 30 seniors, including offensive guard Kameron Graham (5-11, 320), who bench presses 380 pounds.
De Queen at MENA (7): De Queen has won two straight in the series, including last year's four-point decision. The Leopards promoted assistant Stephen Sloan in the spring. Mena expects to dress more than 50 players, headlined by two-time all-conference running back Justin Dean (2,150 total yards and 25 TDs in 2016).
Hope at NASHVILLE (21): Nashville has won 10 of the past 11 against Hope, and the Scrappers dominated the Bobcats by 47 points a year ago. But Nashville has just seven seniors, including QB Tyler Hanson (2,551 yards in 2016) and running back Trent Harris (928 yards and 11 TDs in seven games last year).
Hot Springs at LAKE HAMILTON (5): The past three matchups have been decided by a total of 16 points. Hot Springs drilled 42 players in fall camp, while Lake Hamilton should dress twice as many. Hot Springs senior running back Kenneth Byrd returns for his third season (894 yards in 2016).
Dollarway at WATSON CHAPEL (28): This game was moved to Watson Chapel because Dollarway's field won't be ready. Watson Chapel has lost 11 of its past 14 games against teams outside the 5A South, but the Wildcats dumped Dollarway by 20 points last fall. Watson Chapel senior QB Jacobi Jackson rejoined the program in the summer after getting dismissed in October.
CROSSETT (1) at Magnolia: Crossett has won three of the past five in the series, but Magnolia escaped with a 14-point triumph a year ago. Magnolia cornerback Malik Dunn moved to Texarkana in the summer.
Dumas at WHITE HALL (3): White Hall snapped an 11-game losing streak last year with its 11-point win at Dumas. The Bulldogs rely on seniors Layne Hartsfield and Kyle Barber as leaders for an experienced defense that gave up 12 points or less in five games last season. Dumas didn't go through any team camps in the summer. “We want to be fresh and chomping to hit someone else,” Coach Max Pennington says.

5A WEST
ALMA (7) at Van Buren (Tue.):
Alma goes for its seventh straight win over Van Buren in the “Battle of the Bone.” Airedale senior QB Garrison Jensen played well in the summer after averaging almost 6 yards per carry in 2016.
Clarksville at LAMAR (1): Clarksville's five-point triumph over Lamar last year was its second victory in three years. Lamar had dominated the meetings of Highway 64, winning by a combined 84-26 the previous two years. Clarksville installed the Single Wing in the spring/summer.
PRAIRIE GROVE (6) at Farmington: Farmington has won six of the past 11 in the series. Prairie Grove has 25 wins the past two seasons. Senior tight end Demarkus Cooper played well in the summer, and could line up at receiver and wingback this season.
GREENBRIER (8) at Beebe: Greenbrier has won six of the past seven in the series, including 54-33 a year ago. The Panthers bank on defense early this fall, with four returnees in the secondary, including junior safety Seth Howard (68 tackles in 2016) and cornerback Logan Beaird. Beebe junior halfback Taylor Boyce ran for 614 yards and 13 TDs last season.
HARRISON (7) at Mountain Home: Harrison has won four straight over the Bombers and eight of the past 11. The Goblins return starters at 14 positions, including all-state QB Noah Ditmanson (772 yards and 16 TDs) and linebacker Mason Martin (88 tackles). Mountain Home coach David Joyce resigned in late May after leading the Bombers to a third-place finish in the 6A East.
NORTH LR (35) at Maumelle: Kirk Horton promoted from assistant to Maumelle's head coach in June. Hornet senior all-state linebacker Spencer Simpson made 90 tackles a year ago. North Little Rock breaks in a new QB and running backs this fall, after winning 12 games in 2016 and playing for the first state title in school history.
RUSSELLVILLE (7) at Morrilton: Russellville has won nine of the past 11 in the series. The Cyclones spent the spring learning new schemes from first-year coach Jeff Weaver and new defensive coordinator Todd Wood. Morrilton returns four offensive linemen, including tackle Garnett Russell (6-5, 315) and center Joseph Canady (5-8, 215).
VILONIA (16) at Greene County Tech: Greene Co. Tech has 11 wins the past six seasons and the Eagles have lost 18 straight since beating Newport Week 2, 2015. They return 22 seniors this fall, including 16 with starting experience. Vilonia senior running backs Ben Duff and Isaiah Rocha combined for 843 yards a year ago.

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