5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

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Hootens.com Rankings
Class 5A, Week 14, 2017
Copyright Hooten Publishing, Inc.


1. Pulaski Academy (13-0)
2. LR McClellan (10-3)
3. Wynne (11-2)
4. Nettleton (11-2)
5. Alma (7-5)
6. Greenbrier (8-4)
7. Harrison (8-4)
8. Morrilton (8-4)
9. LR Christian (9-2)
10. Batesville (7-4)
11. Watson Chapel (8-3)
12. Sylvan Hills (6-5)
13. Valley View (6-5)
14. HS Lakeside (6-5)
15. White Hall (6-5)
16. Camden Fairview (4-7)
17. LR Parkview (4-6)
18. De Queen (5-5)
19. Farmington (4-6)
20. Maumelle (5-5)
21. Beebe (4-6)
22. Blytheville (3-7)
23. Magnolia (3-7)
24. Forrest City (3-7)
25. Vilonia (1-9)
26. Greene Co. Tech (3-7)
27. Mills (2-8)
28. Hot Springs (1-9)
29. Paragould (1-9)
30. Clarksville (1-9)
31. Hope (0-10)
32. LR Fair (0-10)

STATE TITLE GAME
No. 2 LR McClellan vs. No. 1 Pulaski Academy

Familiar foes battle in an all 5A Central showdown Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Pulaski Academy handled Little Rock McClellan 61-29 five weeks ago. LR McClellan led 7-6 late in the first quarter, but trailed 34-7 in the middle of the second quarter after failing to recover two onside kicks. Pulaski Academy has never lost a game under Coach Kevin Kelley when recovering at least two onside kicks. The Bruins also beat LR McClellan 22-18 last season and twice in 2015 (41-30 in regular season and 50-30 in 2015 state title game, although LR McClellan led by two points at halftime).
Pulaski Academy has won 25 straight games and hasn't lost to an in-state opponent since the 2013 semifinals. The title game tested Bruins play in their fourth straight championship game and ninth in 10 years. No team has won four straight state titles since Barton from 1986-1989. They have six state titles since Kevin Kelley took over as coach in 2003.
The unbeaten Bruins bested 13 opponents this fall by an average of 58-25, rallying behind an offense that puts up 579 yards weekly, including 456 yards passing. Senior quarterback Layne Hatcher, a three-time state wrestling champion, completed 19 of 25 passes for 364 yards and five TDs, and ran for another TD in last week's 22-point win at Nettleton. Hatcher, a four-year starter and the state's career-leading passer, has a 40-1 record as a starter. “I want him to follow through with his goals,” Kelley says, “and cap his career with another state championship.”
Explosive senior receivers Tra Johnson and Brett Lynch are the primary reasons Pulaski Academy doesn't need a dominant running attack. Johnson has 92 catches for 1,439 yards and 18 TDs, while Lynch has 67 catches for 1,134 yards and 19 TDs. Junior tight end/receiver Hudson Henry has 69 catches for 953 yards and 10 TDs, while classmate John David White has 38 receptions for 755 yards and eight TDs. Senior center Allen Amuimuia (6-2, 315), tackle Luke Jones (6-5, 295) and guard Ford Aguiar (5-10, 215) are key cogs up front.
The Bruin defense collects four tackles for loss, three sacks and forces two turnovers weekly. Senior tackle Isiah Woods (6-2, 275) has 49 tackles this fall, including five tackles for loss, six sacks and two fumble recoveries. Senior three-year middle linebacker Brooks Walton has 111 tackles, while outside linebacker Thomas Wheelis, a first-year starter, has 78 tackles, including eight tackles for loss. “He's exceeded expectations,” Kelley says. Senior safety Blake Thomas (64 tackles) “is a step sooner deciding plays than anybody else,” the coach says.
Former Bruin QB's Adam and Thomas Thrash both coached at Little Rock McClellan. Adam is currently a Pulaski Academy assistant. “Little Rock McClellan knows our signals and our playbook,” Kelley says. “But we've played them so many times recently that it's not a big factor anymore. We change up some of our calls and signals.”
LR McClellan qualified for the playoffs Week 10 with a two-point triumph over Little Rock Parkview, then won three straight road playoff games over 5A East tri-champions Batesville and Wynne and 5A West champion Alma by a total of 20 points. The Crimson Lions held Wynne standout running back Ta'Von Hicks to 51 yards in last week's 22-14 triumph. LR McClellan returns six three-year starters on defense, including senior linebacker Tommy Crumpton and free safety Andre Campbell. Senior Bennie Kemp shifted from QB to middle linebacker/safety two weeks ago.
Senior Tyrese Lair (5-7, 160) took over for Kemp in the quarterfinals, tallying 358 all-purpose yards in a 60-52 decision at Alma, including a 75-yard kickoff return for a TD. Lair (4.5 speed) ran 19 times for 110 yards and threw a TD pass against Wynne. “We've gotten a Herculean effort from the smallest guy on the field,” LR McClellan coach Maurice Moody says. “A lot of people question why he didn't play quarterback all season, but he's so small and I'm afraid he wouldn't have lasted all season.” Lair and his twin brother Kyreek Lair started every game the past two seasons at cornerback.
The Crimson Lions have played all their games away from McClellan this season due to field conditions, including the Week 10 victory over LR Parkview at War Memorial Stadium, where they plan to practice multiple times this week. “Playing on Saturday is very beneficial for us,” Moody says. “We'll be able to work on onside kicks and fine tune our running game.”

LAST WEEK
Hootens.com correctly predicted one of two semifinal games. For the season, hootens.com has predicted 178 of 216 games (82 percent).

WEEK 14 PREDICTIONS (favored team in CAPS followed by point spread)
LR McClellan vs. PULASKI ACADEMY (11)

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