Last Friday the Greenwood Bulldogs continued their five-year march through Class 6A football in Arkansas with another easy victory at Little Rock Hall, winning 42-0. Greenwood improved to 4-0 on the season, now 1-0 in league play.
The ‘Dogs have played in each of the last four state title games, winning the last two, and are currently ranked #1 in 6A and #2 overall behind Class 7A Bryant. Up next for Greenwood is El Dorado next Friday at Smith-Robinson Stadium.
The Hall Warriors entered Friday’s contest with a surprising 2-1 record. Head Coach Kipchoge VanHoose arrived three years ago hoping to turn around a once great program that has fallen on hard times. There are signs of improvement, but the jury is still out on his ultimate success.
Hall received the opening kick, but the offense was quickly stymied by Greenwood’s stout defense and were forced to punt. But the Warriors flexed their own defensive muscles early by forcing the Bulldogs to kick as well without picking up a first down. But the delay was only temporary.
Greenwood scored on its next five possessions, building a 35-0 lead at the half and putting the mercy rule in play for the last two periods. The game was played in just under two hours, allowing the ‘Dogs and their fans to get a head start on returning home to South Sebastian County.
Midway through the first quarter, Greenwood’s Jordan Hanna hit the Hall quarterback on a fourth down play, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs at their own 37. It took a while, but the visitors finally reached the end zone after 10 plays with the aid of a pass interference penalty.
Junior running back Hunter Wilkinson ran five times on the series, finally scoring from one yard out. Senior kicker Jackson Stewart added the extra point for a 7-0 GHS lead (4:08). But the offensive fun was just beginning.
Starting their next possession at the Hall 39, the Bulldogs needed just four plays to score again. QB Jace Presley threw twice to fellow senior Lazaro Angel, reaching the 22.
Presley then made a short toss to Caden Brown in the left flat and watched the junior receiver split a pair of defenders and take it to the house for the touchdown. The PAT made it 14-0 (:37).
But the Warriors found some success on the ground against the GHS defense, actually driving 55 yards into Bulldogs’ territory before turning the ball over on downs at the visitors’ 25 midway through the second stanza.
On first down Presley passed to L.D. Richmond for 10 yards to the 35. Two snaps later senior running back Aaron Ligon caught a screen pass to the Hall 41. Presley then threw to Lazaro Angel for seven yards to the 34.
After Presley was forced to scramble for a seven-yard gain to the 27, he passed to senior Treyton Dawson for 13 yards to the 14, setting up the touchdown. It came on another Presley-Dawson connection in the left side of the end zone. The extra point was good by Stewart for a 21-0 GHS lead (6:24).
A three-and-out by the Greenwood defense forced another short punt to the Warriors 39, giving the visitors a short field, and the Bulldogs quickly took advantage, scoring in just two plays.
Presley threw to Dawson again, who made the grab near the sideline and picked up nice yardage after the catch. A Hall penalty then moved the ball to the four before Presley carried in for the touchdown. Stewart made it 28-0 (5:10).
The final score of the first half came with just 32 seconds left in the second quarter. From the Greenwood 35 the Bulldogs covered 65 yards in just two plays, both passes. The first went from Presley to Dawson for 40 yards to the Hall 25.
The second went to Angel over the middle for the touchdown before the senior absorbed a huge hit in the end zone, but held on to the ball. Angel was shaken up but stayed in the game. Stewart added the extra point.
Leading 35-0 as the second half began, with the mercy rule in place and the clock was running almost continuously, Head Coach Rick Jones sent his starting offense out for one more series.
Greenwood received the opening kick of the half and needed 10 plays to score, the first nine of which were on the ground. Wilkinson, Ligon, and sophomore Cameron Krone did all the leg work behind the blocking of the offensive line.
The touchdown came on a 28-yard pass from Presley to Angel over the middle. Angel hauled in the ball near the five and crossed the goal line uninhibited. Stewart’s kick made it 42-0 and both teams’ reserves played out the remainder of the half in near record time.
After the game, Coach Jones spoke to sideline reporter Richie Taylor and was generally pleased with his team’s play. He was also very complimentary of the opposition.
“They probably made more first downs on us in the first half than anybody we’ve played,” said Jones of the Warriors. “I have a lot of respect for those guys. They’re just not deep. That’s the problem. As the game goes on they get a little worn down because they don’t have enough bodies. They were using all of that 40-second clock.”
As for the Bulldogs, Jones has been basically happy with both his offense and defense so far this season, except for an anemic running game, which should get better as the season unfolds.
“We have been efficient,” he said. “I’m proud of the way our team is playing offensively. Defensively, we gave up a little more [to Hall] than in the past, but they’re fast kids. It gives us a feel for how it will be as things go on,” referring to the rest of the conference schedule.
The El Dorado Wildcats will be in town next Friday after dropping their league opener to Lake Hamilton, 40-21. The ‘Cats have a new head coach in Steven Jones, formerly of Junction City, but had a losing record in 2018 (5-6).
Lake Hamilton (4-0, 1-0) could be a surprise this season with over 50 seniors on the roster for third-year head coach Tommy Gilleran. They host Greenwood in the regular season finale on November 8th.
Benton beat Russellville, 36-31, last Friday, and remains the top pre-season challenge to the Bulldogs, who play at Benton on October 25th. The Panthers are only 1-3 this season, but their losses came to Bryant, ranked #1 overall in the state, to Arkadelphia, the top Class 4A team, and to Class 7A Cabot. Greenwood travels to Russellville on October 18th.
In the other 6A West conference game last Friday, Siloam Springs (2-2) came from behind to defeat Sheriden, 28-27. The Bulldogs will host both the Panthers (Oct. 11) and Yellowjackets (Nov. 1).