After opening their season with two scheduled home games in week one, the Greenwood Junior High Bulldogs hit the road for the first time, traveling to Prairie Grove last Thursday afternoon to open conference play. After making a goal line stand when the hometown Tigers threatened to score on the game’s opening possession, Greenwood responded with 19 unanswered points in the first half on their way to a convincing 39-8 victory, extending their three-year winning streak to 22 games.
Regarding last week’s home game against Farmington that was postponed due to inclement weather, it has been rescheduled for Monday, September 26th, at 5:30 p.m. before the regularly scheduled junior varsity game against Alma. The JV game, normally played at 6 p.m., will follow the junior high contest. The freshmen Bulldogs were slated to have an open week and will not play that Thursday, September 29th.
Greenwood kicked off to Prairie Grove last Thursday, and the Tigers drove down the field, mostly on the ground, reaching deep inside Bulldogs’ territory with first-and-goal at the 7-yard-line. But three rushing plays and an incomplete pass failed to find the end zone, giving the ball back to Greenwood at its own 1-yard-line. Hats off to the visiting defense.
Likewise, the Greenwood offense was fired up and ready to roll upon taking the field. Quarterback Cooper Goodwin opened things with a bang, faking a handoff to running back Wesley Raggio and keeping the ball himself around right end for a big gain to the Prairie Grove 49-yard-line, a 50-yard run. Raggio then ran for 23 yards to the 26 before Goodwin completed a third down pass to Malaki Efurd on a fade route down the sideline for the game’s first score. The extra point by Laydn Casanova was good for a 7-0 lead.
The Tigers then gave up the football on the ensuing kickoff, fumbling it away at their own 39, putting the Greenwood offense right back to work. This time it took only three plays to score. After an incomplete pass, Goodwin pitched the ball forward to Raggio (a pass), who got 16 yards to the 23, moving the sticks. Goodwin then found receiver Brayden Sheppard in the right side of the end zone for Greenwood’s second touchdown, but the point after failed, keeping the score at 13-0.
Another defensive stop gave the ball back to Greenwood in short order after a quick three-and-out followed by a punt to the visitors’ 28-yard-line. Goodwin passed for nine yards on first down before Raggio rumbled to the Prairie Grove 48 for a first down. Receiver Lawyer Thornsberry then caught a short toss that reached the 38 before Goodwin hooked up with Raggio on a swing pass near the left hash mark before the speedy running back streaked down the sideline for another score. The extra point failed, leaving the score at 19-0 with 3:23 left in the first half.
The Tigers failed to move the ball on their next possession, punting to the Jr. ‘Dogs 40-yard-line. Goodwin completed a pair of passes that reached the Prairie Grove 25, setting up another scoring chance, ultimately reaching the 4-yard-line before a fumble ended the drive. The half expired soon after and both teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
The Tigers finally got on the scoreboard on their first possession of the second half, taking advantage of excellent field position, starting their drive at the Greenwood 46 after recovering a short kickoff bobbled by the Bulldogs. It only took five plays to score, the last one being a 28-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion attempt also succeeded, trimming the Greenwood lead to 19-8 and keeping the Tigers in the game, at least for the moment.
Likewise, the Bulldogs scored on their first series of the half, driving 78 yards in just seven plays. Goodwin completed both of his pass attempts for 46 yards and ran for 12 more. Wesley Raggio scored the touchdown from four yards out, bouncing to the outside and around left end for the score. The extra point was good by female kicker Farrah Crossno, the younger sister of former GHS star athlete Tyler Crossno, who played football and was a three-time state champion wrestler.
Now leading 26-8, the Greenwood defense continued to stymie the Prairie Grove offense, stopping a fourth down play at mid-field, giving the pigskin back to the visiting offense for yet another score. From the home 48-yard-line Goodwin completed a deep pass that reached the Tigers’ 13, then two snaps later connected with Benton Hossley on a slant pattern over the middle for the touchdown. The PAT was good, making the score 33-8.
The visitors’ final touchdown of the night came after the Greenwood defense stuffed another fourth down play at the Prairie Grove 48. Following a short loss and a penalty that wiped out a big gain, Goodwin threw to Raggio, reaching the home 38-yard-line. That same connection yielded 10 more yards to the 28 before Goodwin scrambled to the 20. Three snaps later the Greenwood QB scored himself from two yards out. The extra point failed, making the final score, 39-8.
“We played really well. We were better than Prairie Grove, and we played like it,” said Luke Hales after his second game as Greenwood’s new head coach. “[They] run an offense we don’t see very often, the Wing-T. We rarely see that, and I thought Coach [Eric] Daniel did an awesome job preparing our kids. [Prairire Grove] can run a quarter-and-a-half off the clock with ease, so I was really proud of our defense and the way they stepped up all night.
“They [Prairie Grove] get the opening kickoff and march it right down the field to the 1-yard-line, but our defense had a goal line stand. They really grew up. They learned how to fight back and scrap when things aren’t going their way,” said the head coach.
Offensively, Hales was also pleased, especially with the play of quarterback Cooper Goodwin. “We’re pretty versatile with Cooper being able to run,” he said. “I don’t necessarily like him running too much because I want to keep him healthy. But he’s such a good athlete and competitor that he’s going to take off and just be a football player.”
Asked about some of the kicking woes his team has suffered through two games, Hales said, “We’re working with multiple kickers. We have a girl that just joined our team, Farrah Crossno, the younger sister of Tyler Crossno who played on the high school team the last couple of years. She’s getting better and better. We also have Laydn Casanova. They alternate. They’re rotating almost every other [kick].”
The freshmen Bulldogs will host Dardanelle next Thursday at Smith-Robinson Stadium, looking for their 23rd consecutive victory and their second win this season in conference play. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. Greenwood will travel to Van Buren the following Thursday, September 22nd, before hosting Farmington on Monday, September 26th.