Defense leading the way for Jr. Bulldogs

Defense leading the way for Jr. Bulldogs

The Greenwood Junior High football team remained unbeaten last Thursday with a resounding 36-0 win over league rival Fort Smith Chaffin. It was the second consecutive shutout for the defense since giving up 12 points to Shiloh Christian in the season opener. The win avenged Greenwood’s stinging loss last year to the Cougars in River Valley Conference play.

This week’s contest was played at Southside High School in Fort Smith, and the freshman ‘Dogs dominated on both sides of the football. Greenwood led 16-0 at the half, three points of which came on the team’s first field goal this season, before they scored three more touchdowns in the second half.

“It was a big win for us on the road,” said Head Coach Shannon Rhea. “I thought one of the keys to the game was getting an early lead, and that’s exactly what we did. In last year’s 8th grade game, Chaffin scored first and then hit us with an onside kick, and was able to get a lead on us that we weren’t able to recover from.

“I thought our coaches did a great job of putting in a game plan and getting the kids to execute,” he continued. “Aiden James continues to make plays on special teams with big tackles. Austin Mitchell, Peyton Presson, and Caleb Garner continue to play well [also].”

Greenwood received the opening kick with Austin Mitchell returning it to the 21-yard-line. From there the Jr. ‘Dogs marched 65 yards in seven plays before a quarterback sack caused the possession to stall at the Chaffin 14. Kicker Bodie Steinfeldt then booted his first field goal of 2020, a 31-yard effort for a 3-0 Greenwood lead. Key plays on the scoring drive included a 26-yard scamper by L.J. Robins and another 25-yard romp by the freshman running back.

The defense came up big on Chaffin’s first series, causing and recovering a fumble at the Cougars’ 25-yard-line, setting up Greenwood’s first touchdown moments later. On third down from the 14, quarterback Slade Dean hooked up with receiver Peyton Presson, who caught the ball near the 10 and carried in for the score. Steinfeldt’s extra point was true.

Leading 10-0, the Greenwood defense went back to work, forcing a quick three-and-out by the Chaffin offense, but the ensuing snap sailed over the punter’s head, allowing Carson Hobbs to recover the ball for the Bulldogs at the 9-yard-line. On third down from the eight, Dean passed to Austin Mitchell for the touchdown, but the point after failed, leaving the score 16-0 early in the second quarter.

The Greenwood offense had the ball just once more before the half ended, moving deep into Cougars’ territory, but did not score, turning the ball over on downs. Chaffin had the ball twice more, but were stopped on fourth down at midfield and had the football in the waning seconds before time expired.

The freshmen Bulldogs scored on all three of their second half possessions, while the defense continued to stymie the Chaffin offense, which never really threatened to score at any point in the game. The Cougars had some small success moving the football between the 30s, but not much else.

After the visiting defense did its job once again, forcing Chaffin to punt after its opening possession of the new half, Braden Skaggs returned the kick to the Greenwood 36. Five plays later the Bulldogs were back in the end zone.

The score came on a pass from Slade Dean to Austin Mitchell, who caught the ball and eluded a would-be tackler near the Chaffin 20 on his way to the end zone. The play covered 45 yards and was punctuated by Bodie Steinfeldt’s extra point, putting Greenwood up 23-0.

Another Cougars’ punt soon followed, this one going out-of-bounds at the Greenwood 46, giving the Bulldogs excellent field position, enhanced even more with a procedure penalty on Chaffin, moving the ball to the home 49-yard-line. Three plays later Dean found Robins wide open behind the defense near the 15 for an easy touchdown pass. The PAT failed.

Trailing 29-0, the desperate Cougars failed on a fourth down try in their own territory, giving the pigskin back to Greenwood at the Chaffin 33. New quarterback Cole Kindle then led the Jr. ‘Dogs final scoring drive, needing just five plays.

Kindle passed to Braden Skaggs for a first down at the 22, then threw to Carson Hobbs three snaps later, completing a 20-yard scoring toss. Steinfeldt added the extra point to make the final score, 36-0. The Chaffin offense ran out the remaining time. With the win, the Bulldogs moved to 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in River Valley Conference play.

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