Class 6A Week 0 Rankings, Notes & Picks
Class 6A, Week 0, 2019
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3. West Memphis
4. El Dorado
8. Pine Bluff
9. Sylvan Hills
11. Siloam Springs
12. Lake Hamilton
14. Mountain Home
16. LR Hall
HOOTEN'S.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 2 Benton vs. Class 7A No. 1 Bryant
Defending Class 7A state champion Bryant has won 12 of the past 13 meetings against Saline County rival Benton. The schools tied in 2014 and Benton last toppled Bryant in 2005. Benton graduated four offensive line starters from last year's state runner-up team, but the Panthers are dangerous and deep at the skill positions. All-state receiver Gavin Wells (4.6 speed; 285-pound power clean) caught 57 passes for 654 yards as a junior. Look for the Panther quarterbacks Peyton Hudgins and Garrett Brown to share snaps in non-conference games. The athletic Hudgins slides to receiver when Brown enters at QB. Benton's strength on defense will be its defensive line, anchored by Dusty Walker, Caleb Coffman, Colin Yandell, Hayden Purdy and David Landers. Two-time all-state senior lineman Brett Barbaree (6-3, 240) enhances the defensive line rotation after moving from Fountain Lake.
Bryant returns 10 starters following the first state title in school history, but nine 2019 graduates signed college football scholarships. Arkansas baseball commit Austin Ledbetter returns at QB while senior RB and state wrestling champion Ahmad Adams (6-0, 235) succeeds Latavion Scott, the school's all-time leading rusher. Senior defensive end and top recruit Catrell Wallace (6-6, 210) owns scholarship offers from Arkansas, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Nebraska. Look for Bryant to deploy Wallace in pass coverage, as a pass rusher and even at safety in certain sets.
Hootens.com last week correctly 89 out of 107 games (83 percent) involving Class 6A schools.
WEEK 0 PREDICTIONS (favored teams in CAPS followed by point spread)
LR Central vs. WEST MEMPHIS (35): Central High leads this series 12-6 all time, including Class AAAAA state championship victories in 2003 and 2004. West Memphis rolled Central 35-0 in last year's opener, the first game for Central coach Kent Laster. West Memphis surges behind five transfers from Tennessee, including senior offensive lineman Chris Morris (6-4, 287) a four-star recruit, owns offers from Arkansas, Texas A&M Tennessee, Auburn and Alabama.
Blytheville at MARION (17): Marion has beaten Class 5A Blytheville two straight times, including 37-35 a year ago. Marion's eight victories last fall were its most since winning eight times in 2011. There's potential for an explosive Marion offense, behind junior QB Daedrick Cail, running backs Anthony Price and Kentreal Jones and big-play receivers Slade Webb and Cayden Hunt, but an all-conference receiver left the program this summer.
Mountain Home vs. SHERIDAN (21): Sheridan mauled Mountain Home 34-7 last fall. The Bombers have lost 12 consecutive games, and 20 of 21 outings, since a four-win 2017 campaign. Mountain Home welcomes back 14 starters this season, including all-conference performers Dylan Poush and Aidan Richey. Sheridan's strength this season should be on defense, where stalwarts Noah Cole and Harper Thornton squat more than 600 pounds. For more on Sheridan, watch Coach Lance Parker's preseason interview HERE.
Morrilton at SEARCY (6): Searcy downed Morrilton 46-26 in last year's opener. Searcy got a shot in the arm this summer when receiver Marlon Crockett (6-3, 200) joined the team after moving in from Texas. Crockett snagged 30 passes last year for 448 yards and six touchdowns. Look for Crockett to play some in the secondary, as well. Senior QB Bryce Dixon impressed onlookers in the summer with his decision making.
LR Catholic at JONESBORO (7): Jonesboro enters 2019 with optimism after winning its first playoff game since 2015 last season and pushing eventual state runner-up Benton in the quarterfinals. The Golden Hurricane return 15 starters, including three all-state performers. “I love our team,” Coach Randy Coleman says. “It's probably the best team we've had from top to bottom in a long time. Our guys are focused, driven and have great team chemistry.” Junior Brodie Williams (5-10, 160) emerged this summer at cornerback.
ARKADELPHIA (7) at Sylvan Hills: Sylvan Hills erased a 14-point deficit in a 16-14 win last August. Two-time defending Class 4A state champion Arkadelphia enters play on a 10-game winning streak and last season became the first school in state history to flip a 0-5 start into a state championship. Sylvan Hills surges into 2019 behind 12 returning starters from a team that was the first No. 6 seed in Class 6A to advance to the semifinals. It was the school's first semifinal visit since playing for the 2002 Class AAAA state title.
Hear more from Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow here.
Benton vs. BRYANT (14) (at War Memorial Stadium): See Hootens.com Game of the Week.
Mountain Home vs. SHERIDAN (21): Sheridan mauled Mountain Home 34-7 last fall. The Bombers have lost 12 consecutive games, and 20 of 21 outings, since a four-win 2017 campaign. Mountain Home welcomes back 14 starters this season, including all-conference performers Dylan Poush and Aidan Richey. Sheridan's strength this season should be on defense, where stalwarts Noah Cole and Harper Thornton squat more than 600 pounds. Hear more from Sheridan coach Lance Parker here.
CONWAY (10) at El Dorado: Conway outlasted El Dorado last season, winning 48-41 in double overtime. Class 7A Conway earned nine wins each of the past two seasons, including three wins last fall by a TD or less. Steven Jones succeeds Scott Reed at El Dorado after Reed's teams finished 106-45 with four state titles. Jones finished 25-3 in two seasons at Class 2A juggernaut Junction City, including a state runner-up finish in 2017 and a state title last season. The Wildcats shifted all-state QB Alex Hicks to running back in the spring, where he likely exceeds 20 touches per game this season. Watch Conway coach Keith Fimple's preseason interview HERE.
VAN BUREN (3) at Siloam Springs: Siloam Springs rallied for a 35-32 victory last season at Class 7A Van Buren. Siloam Springs banks on an experienced defense this season, with seven guys returning who have played 400 snaps or more in their varsity careers. “I'm a firm believer that you have to play solid defense if you want to have a chance to win,” second-year coach Brandon Craig says. Siloam Springs could dress more than 65 players this season.