Class 6A Hootens.com Rankings, Notes and Picks, Week 0, 2023
Hootens.com Football Rankings
Class 6A, Week 0, 2023
Copyright Seventy Sevens Football Publishing, LLC
1. LR Christian
3. Pulaski Academy
5. LR Catholic
6. West Memphis
7. El Dorado
9. Lake Hamilton
11. Sylvan Hills
13. Mountain Home
15. Van Buren
17. Siloam Springs
18. Greene Co. Tech
HOOTENS.COM GAME OF THE WEEK
Class 5A Wynne at NO. 8 MARION: These teams have met every season since 1969 with Wynne holding a 34-12-1 series advantage. Marion topped Wynne 24-21 on the game's final play in 2021 but later forfeited that win because it was ruled to have used an ineligible player. Wynne topped Marion 21-10 a season ago. Marion is 7-2 against Wynne at home since 2005.
This is Wynne's first game under veteran coach Clay Totty, who guided Rison to state titles in 2000 and 2004. Totty ranks 11th on the state's all-time win list with 242. This is also Wynne's first game since a tornado ravaged the town and its high school in late March, leading to the departure of at least 10 players leaving the program during the offseason. Senior quarterback John Watson returns to trigger the 2023 Yellowjackets offense while senior Brayden Mattox starts a fourth season as the team's kicker while helping at slotback. Abdul Fall and Camerson Smith are returning starters for a defense that surrendered 3 touchdowns or fewer 8 times last fall.
Marion enters the 2023 season with more than 80 players on its roster, including 16 returning starters. Five starters return on the offensive line, a unit rated as the best in the 6A East by Hooten's Arkansas Football. Marion features all-conference performers at right tackle (Aqeelo Allen) and left guard (Carter Benton), while senior Jermaine Davis anchors right guard and junior Charlie Cantrell plays center. Most notable is left tackle Carius Curne, who earned 10 Division I scholarship offers during the offseason, including from 2-time defending national Champion Georgia, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. Marion senior Jermiah Miller joined the team during the offseason and impressed at linebacker. The first-team Marion offense produced 4 touchdown drives with 1 punt in last week's 47-28 victory over Maumelle in a benefit scrimmage. Taheim Frost and Victor Turner returned fumbles for TDs against the Hornets.
Wynne at MARION: See Hootens.com Game of the Week.
WEST MEMPHIS at Jonesboro: Traditional conference rivals meet for a nonconference matchup for the second season in a row since Jonesoboro moved up to 7A. West Memphis won last year's clash 27-20 but Jonesboro has won 2 of the past 3 meetings. Starters return at 15 positions for West Memphis, including all-state performers Keland Mills at quarterback, receiver Dylan Greer, and Scotty Dobbins. West Memphis downed Class 4A Blytheville in its scrimmage last Tuesday night.
Benton vs. Class 7A BRYANT: Bryant has won the Salt Bowl every year since 2005 save for a 14-14 tie in 2014. Five-time defending Class 7A state champion Bryant plays its first game under Coach Quad Sanders, who succeeds Buck James. The Hornets proved explosive on offense in last week's 48-28 scrimmage victory over defending Class 6A state champion Pulaski Academy. Benton seeks its second conference title in 3 seasons this fall behind senior Arkansas tailback commit Braylen Russell. Senior QB Cline Hooten earned the starting job last year at midseason and started the Panthers' final 7 games.
LR CATHOLIC at Class 7A North Little Rock: North Little Rock has won 11 of the past 20 meetings with LR Catholic since 2001, but the Rockets launched their run to the 2022 6A East title and 6A semifinals with a 23-6 conquest of the Charging Wildcats in the season opener. Catholic returns 17 starters, including all-conference tailback Dominic Keeton, all-state receiver Brooks Ward, all-conference linebacker Jaxon Hatchett and all-6A East cornerback Cade McConnell.
Sylvan Hills at Class 5A MAUMELLE: Maumelle has topped Sylvan Hills the past 3 seasons in the season-opener, including a 28-27 win a season ago in overtime. That defeat spiraled Sylvan Hills, which missed the postseason for the first time since 2011. Sylvan Hills shifted during the offseason from former coach Chris Hill's preferred Flexbone to the multiple offense schemed by first-year coach and Sylvan Hills alum Jason Houle. Offensive lineman Jaden White stood out in summer drills, per Houle. Maumelle's starters generated several big plays last week in a 47-28 scrimmage loss at Marion.
Class 5A Batesville at SEARCY: Batesville snapped a 7-game losing streak to Searcy in last year's 40-39 victory in the season-opener. Searcy started last year 1-5, but won 3 of its final 4 games to make the playoffs for a 14th consecutive season. Seven defensive starters return for Searcy, including 3-year starter Gabe Osmon, all-league linebacker Jace Garcia, cornerback Trayvion Coleman, and senior safety Dash Stevenson, who missed last season with injury.
Sheridan at Class 5A WHITE HALL: The past 3 Highway 270 trophies have gone to White Hall, including 27-24 last year. First-year Coach Tyler Turner takes over Sheridan after serving as an assistant at Sylvan Hills. Turner has earned a reputation as a builder of programs at previous stops in Mississippi. Five Yellowjackets return as starters in 2023, including QB Brady Dillon, tailback/linebacker C.J. Dollarhide, Payton Sterritt, Ricky Johnson, and Jake Smith. Teammates installed Dollarhide, C.J. Davis, Parker Ramsey, Smith, and Sterritt as team captains. Jason Mitchell takes over as White Hall's head coach after the death of coach Ryan Mallett in late June. White Hall returns starters at 19 positions.
Class 5A Paragould at GREENE COUNTY TECH: Greene County Tech has won 4 in a row in the "Battle for the Bell," including the past 2 by a combined score of 100-0. Starters return at 8 positions for the 2023 Golden Eagles, who are in search of their second playoff victory and first since 2009 (28-24 at Magnolia). Paragould has won 3 games total since the start of 2018.
Class 5A BEEBE at Jacksonville: Beebe has beaten Jacksonville the past 3 seasons, including 43-6 last season. Jacksonville enters the season with a 14-game losing streak after going 0-10 in 2022, the school's first winless season since at least 1956. All-conference performers Kentrell Thompson and Lamonz Brown anchor the Titans this fall. Jacksonville's expected starting QB moved to Fordyce in the summer, while Beebe's top running back from last season moved to Texas. Beebe will rely on defense early this fall, with all-league DL Garrison Waldrop and all-state LB Jaxcen Marsh (121 tackles in 2022).
EL DORADO is open.
Stillwater, Okla. at GREENWOOD: Two-time defending state runner-up Greenwood returns starters at 15 positions. That does not include promising sophomore quarterback Kane Archer, who owns several Division 1 scholarship offers, including Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Arizona. Coach Chris Young has guided Greenwood to the state final in all 3 of his seasons since succeeding Rick Jones in time for the 2020 season. Greenwood downed Class 7A Fayetteville in last week's benefit scrimmage. The Bulldogs forced 2 turnovers and recorded 2 of their 5 total sacks in the game's first 6 plays. Greenwood’s first-team defense did not allow a point.
PULASKI ACADEMY at Class 5A Joe T. Robinson: This is an intriguing early-season cross-classification matchup between the defending Class 6A state champions and a Class 5A semifinalist in 2022. Pulaski Academy has opened the past 3 seasons with wins over Joe T. Robinson, including 55-29 in 2022. The Bruins will lean on tradition more than ever this year as 8 starters return following all-state senior QB Kel Busby's season-ending injury over the summer. PA's secondary stood out in summer workouts per Coach Anthony Lucas. PA junior QB Brandon Cobb totaled 3 TDs last week against Class 7A power Bryant in a benefit scrimmage.
Class 7A Little Rock Central at LITTLE ROCK CHRISTIAN: Little Rock Christian is 3-0 all time against LR Central, including a 41-6 season-opening victory last August. LR Christian coach Eric Cohu compares the 2023 Warriors to the 2018 team that won the school’s only state championship. QB Walker White, an Auburn commitment, headlines 7 returning starters for a LR Christian offense that averaged almost 40 points per game last year. Seniors Preston Davis and Cooper Jones are the top returning tacklers for one of the state’s top linebacking groups.
Class 5A Hot Springs Lakeside at LAKE HAMILTON: Lake Hamilton has opened the season with a victory over Garland County rival Hot Springs Lakeside 5 consecutive times, including 47-20 last year. The Wolves have won 38 times over the past 3 seasons, but only 4 starters return in 2023, including 1 on defense (lineman Josh Brooks). Senior all-conference QB Easton Hurley spearheads a Lake Hamilton offense that scored more than 33 points per game last fall. Hurley had a strong offseason. "We have some guys who can catch it," Lake Hamilton Coach Tommy Gilleran says.
Greenbrier at Class 5A FARMINGTON: A 49-20 loss in last year's season-opener to Farmington and season-ending injuries to 8 starters before league play opened doomed Greenbrier to a 2-8 final record, the Panthers' worst mark since finishing 1-9 in 2008. Two-way playmakers Eli Weaver, Lawson Worthy, and Eric Huett impressed Greenbrier coaches during summer workouts.
Class 5A Morrilton at RUSSELLVILLE: Russellville has won 12 of the past 16 meetings, but Morrilton turned the Cyclones away 13-7 in 2022. Russellville won 4 games in a row last October to make the playoffs before beating favored West Memphis for the Cyclones' first playoff victory since 2017. Russellville Coach Dave Wheeler says his offensive line may be the most improved unit on the club this season.
Mountain Home at Class 5A NETTLETON: Nettleton has topped Mountain Home in 8 of the past 9 meetings, including 49-39 a year ago. Mountain Home has made the quarterfinals in each of Coach Steve Ary's 3 seasons in Baxter County, but Mountain Home has not qualified for the semifinals since it finished as state runners-up in 2006. All-conference QB Cade Yates, defensive end Robert Dover, and linebacker Ty Hannaford anchor the Bombers this fall. Nettleton finished fall camp with 55 players. Coach Steven Hampton says junior QB Maddox Hampton, sophomore athlete T.J. Brown, senior WR Quadarius Thompson, junior DT Keon Stallings, senior center Zach Davis and senior OT Garrett Campbell performed well in the summer.
Class 7A HERITAGE at Siloam Springs: Heritage's season-opening 16-14 victory in 2022 put Siloam Springs on a path toward its first winless season in 25 years. Siloam's presumed starting QB moved out of state during the offseason, but 10 starters return for the Panthers, including tailback Jed Derwin, receiver Cameron Stafford, and left tackle Noah Race. The Panthers boast 4 returners on the defensive line (Christian Mendez), at linebacker (George LeRoy), and the secondary (Mikey McKinley and Carlos Sandoval). Siloam Springs struggled last week when Fort Smith Southside topped the Panthers 42-7 in a benefit scrimmage, but Derwin rushed for 95 yards and a TD.