2A Rankings, Pick and Notes, Week 14, 2023

2A Rankings, Pick and Notes, Week 14, 2023

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Hooten’s Arkansas Football Rankings

Class 2A, Week 14, 2023

Copyright Seventy Seven’s Publishing

1. Bigelow (13-0) 

2. EPC (12-1)

3. Carlisle (11-2)

4. Marked Tree (9-3)

5. Murfreesboro (11-1)

6. Conway Christian (9-3)

7. Des Arc (8-4)

8. Hector (7-5)

9. Hazen (8-3)

10. Mineral Springs (9-2)

11. England (6-5)

12. Cross County (5-4)

13. Poyen (5-6)

14. Bearden (4-6)

15. McCrory (5-5)

16. Mount Ida (3-7)

17. Earle (4-6)

18. Dierks (3-7)

19. JC Westside (3-7)

20. Mountainburg (3-6)

21. Lafayette County (3-7) 

22. Baptist Prep (3-7)

23. Clarendon (2-8)

24. Magazine (1-8)

25. LR Episcopal (1-8)

26. Marianna (1-10)

27. Hampton (0-9)

28. Foreman (0-9)



Hootens.com correctly predicted 1 of 2 games 2A games last week and is 131-28 (82 percent) for the season.

CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (12 p.m. Friday, War Memorial Stadium)

East Poinsett County (12-1) vs. BIGELOW (13-0), 12 p.m. Friday, War Memorial Stadium

This matchup pits teams making their first appearance in a state-title football game. Both teams have been ranked in the Top 10 all year.

BIGELOW got to the finals by beating Marked Tree 36-20 last Friday. Carter Alexander rushed for 110 yards and 2 TDs, and Ryan Hobbs returned an interception for a TD.

EAST POINSETT COUNTY advanced to the finals with a 26-21 win over previous No. 1 Carlisle. Dennis Gaines (36-191 rushing, 4 TDs) scored the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left after the Bison had rallied from a 20-7 deficit to take a 21-20 lead. 

Both coaches are excited about the opportunity for their schools making it to the finals. 

“It’s huge,” Bigelow Coach Luke Starks said. “There’s not really a good word for it. It’s the first time we’ve ever played in War Memorial. It’s a special moment for the kids, the community and really everyone involved.”

“It’s a big deal,” EPC Coach Brandon Powell said. “It really hasn’t sunk in for us yet. We’re in the mode of preparing for the next game. After the season is done, we’ll look back and it’s going to be a really big deal, not only for the team but the school and community too. It’s a major step for our program, finally breaking through and making it to Little Rock.”

QB Rhett Neumeier (2,170 passing, 27 TDs), Alexander (1,114 rushing, 14 TDs), and Brandt Tipton (42-767, 11 TDs) lead the Bigelow offense.

EPC is led by a 3-headed offensive monster with Gaines (1,832 rushing, 30 TDs), QB Cooper Argo (1,416 passing, 14 TDs; 800 rushing, 6 TDs) and Omar McCuiston (31-707 receiving, 9 TDs).

Bigelow's Starks said he knows they’ve got to slow down Gaines. 

“They’ve probably got one of the best backs in the state,” he said, referring to Gaines. “He’s a very different runner. He’s explosive. He’s got straight-line speed. You’ve got to slow him down the best you can. I don’t know if anybody has yet. He’s a special athlete. They are big up front. Their QB (Argo) is pretty athletic. We’re just going to try to do something to keep him (Gaines) from breaking big ones. We’ve got to maintain a drive and still try to be efficient on offense.”

Powell said the Class 2A division has been balanced this year without a clear-cut favorite like last year with Hazen. 

“All the teams were pretty close,” he said. “A lot of games during the season will be similar to what we’re going to have to play in the state championship game. Bigelow is a physical, athletic team. They are playing great defensive football. In the playoffs, they’ve been lighting it up on the offensive end. We’re expecting one of those tight games. It will come down to turnovers or whoever makes that major mistake is going to be behind 8-ball.”

Bigelow was able to pull away from Marked Tree, whereas EPC had to beat it in OT to win the conference title. If Bigelow can slow down Gaines and Argo, it will have a chance to win its first state title. 

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