Class 5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

Class 5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

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Class 5A, Week 14, 2016
Copyright Hooten Publishing, Inc.

1. Pulaski Academy (12-1)
2. Wynne (13-0)
3. Batesville (9-4)
4. Watson Chapel (8-5)
5. Alma (8-4)
6. LR McClellan (8-4)
7. Forrest City (8-4)
8. LR Christian (5-7)
9. Morrilton (5-6)
10. Sylvan Hills (9-2)
11. White Hall (9-2)
12. Greenbrier (8-3)
13. HS Lakeside (6-5)
14. Harrison (8-3)
15. Blytheville (6-5)
16. Magnolia (5-6)
17. Valley View (5-5)
18. Hot Springs (4-6)
19. Vilonia (5-5)
20. Nettleton (5-5)
21. Beebe (4-6)
22. Farmington (3-7)
23. Camden Fairview (3-7)
24. Paragould (4-6)
25. De Queen (3-7)
26. Maumelle (2-8)
27. Mills (3-7)
28. LR Parkview (1-8)
29. Hope (0-10)
30. Clarksville (1-9)
31. Greene Co. Tech (0-10)
32. LR Fair (1-9)

No. 1 Pulaski Academy vs. No. 2 Wynne

These teams play for the third straight season, with Pulaski Academy winning the previous two (38-28 in 2014 title game, 35-21 in Week 2, 2015).

Wynne has three state titles in the playoff era (1986, 2001 and 2004), in addition to runner-up finishes in 2014 and 1980. The undefeated Yellowjackets mashed 13 opponents this fall by an average of 51-17. They've scored at least 48 points (seven touchdowns) in nine of the past 11 games, including 50 on Morrilton in the first round of the playoffs and 77 in last week's 36-point win over Watson Chapel.

Teams usually control Wynne's Flexbone for a quarter, but the physical Yellowjackets dominate the second half of games. “They are the most aggressive and physical team I've seen from Arkansas,” says Little Rock McClellan coach Maurice Moody. Wynne junior fullback Ta'Von Hicks (5-11, 190) has 181 carries for more than 1,800 yards and 25 TDs this fall, his first to start. Hicks ran 30 times for 271 yards and three TDs against Watson Chapel. Junior quarterback Luke Chapman ran for three TDs a week ago, while senior wingback Devontai Pounds ran four times for 63 yards and a score. Wynne's success starts up front, where senior left tackle Corban Arnold (6-2, 245) dominates. Senior Matt Vines (6-1 ,210) starts at right tackle, while junior Hunter Hylle (5-10, 230) has 25 straight starts at center. Senior Brandon Keeling (6-2, 285) and junior Erik South (5-11, 285) play guard, while Daquan Marrs (6-1, 275) rotates and plays as much as the starters.

Pounds spearheads a stout defense at safety, where he returned an interception 100 yards for a TD against Watson Chapel. Pounds has returned four interceptions and two punts for TDs this year. Pounds and senior linebacker/safety Jaylon McDaniel both started in the 2014 title game. Wynne's secondary has appeared shaky at times, giving up 418 yards to Watson Chapel. Sophomore outside linebacker Allen Watson (6-2, 198) forced two fumbles last year and stars on special teams. Hicks has started every game at noseguard the past two seasons. Wynne's defensive line took a hit when junior end Logan Jessup broke his leg late in the season.

Pulaski Academy lost to Utah state champion Salt Lake City East 37-23 in Week 2, its only loss since falling to Morrilton by seven points in 2013 quarterfinals. The Bruins return to the state championship game for the third straight season and eighth time in 14 years. The Bruins have won five titles since Kevin Kelley took over as coach in 2003.

They average 539 yards and 47 points weekly. Junior QB Layne Hatcher has completed 259 of 394 passes (66 percent) for 4,240 yards and 52 TDs with 17 interceptions. Senior running back Jaren Watkins paces Pulaski Academy with 179 carries for 1,621 yards and 17 TDs, while junior R.J. Anderson has 56 carries for 409 yards and three scores. The Bruins don't have break-away threats at receiver like in the past, but junior Trajen Johnson has 46 catches for 928 yards and 14 TDs. Junior Brett Lynch has 40 catches for 745 yards and 10 TDs, while senior Ray Jackson has 35 receptions for 742 yards and seven TDs. But Jackson missed the past two games with an injury.

The Bruins surrender 19 points weekly. Senior safety Hayden Henry “is playing as well on defense as anyone I've ever coached,” Kelley says. “If we put him on offense, he would be the best receiver in the state. But he has that defensive mentality.” Henry has 75 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries this season. The key matchup is Pulaski Academy's defensive line of seniors Cameron Fonseca (6-1, 215), Will Hart (6-2, 195) and Will Osment (6-2, 190) and junior Isaiah Woods (6-2, 240) against Wynne's offensive front. Fonseca has 73 tackles this season, while Woods has 56, including nine tackles for loss.

Early weather forecast for saturday calls for a 60 percent chance of rain during the game with a high temperature of 47 degrees, which favors Wynne's running attack, one 5A coach says.

Common opponents: Pulaski Academy beat Batesville, Forrest City and Little Rock McClellan by a combined 113-43, while Wynne beat those three by a total of 162-57.

LAST WEEK correctly predicted both semifinal games. For the season, has correctly predicted 185 of 215 games (86 percent).

WEEK 14 TITLE GAME PREDICTION (favored team in CAPS followed by point spread)

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