Class 7A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

Class 7A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

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Class 7A, Week 14, 2018
Copyright Hooten Publishing, Inc.
1. North LR (12-0)
2. Bryant (9-2)
3. Fayetteville (9-3)
4. Bentonville West (7-5)
5. FS Northside (8-5)
6. Conway (9-3)
7. Bentonville (7-4)
8. FS Southside (6-6)
9. Springdale (7-4)
10. LR Catholic (5-6)
11. Cabot (3-7)
12. Springdale Har-Ber (2-8)
13. Van Buren (4-7)
14. Rogers (3-7)
15. LR Central (1-8)
16. Rogers Heritage (0-10)

No. 2 Bryant vs. No. 1 North LR
North Little Rock returns for a third consecutive season, while Bryant makes its first state title game appearance at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. North LR rallied to beat Bryant 34-28 Week 9 this season, won at Bryant 25-14 last year and bombed the Hornets twice (38-7 and 46-13) in 2016. So, Bryant seems to be closing the gap on North LR.
North LR has rushed for more than 991 yards the past two weeks, scoring 48 points per playoff game. Seniors Oscar Adaway (6-0, 205) and Tyler Day (6-3, 240) and junior Brandon Thomas pound opponents. Thomas has totaled 477 rushing yards (14.4 per carry) and seven TDs in North LR's two playoff games.
Bryant third-year coach Buck James (28-8) calls senior RB Latavion Scott “the best in the state.” Scott, now the school's all-time leading rusher with 3,178 yards and 34 TDs, carried 22 times for 144 yards and the Hornet defense held Fort Smith Northside to 98 yards in last week's 28-7 semifinal win. Bryant played sophomore QB Austin Ledbetter last week over three-year starter Ren Hefley. Ledbetter completed 12 of 21 passes for 190 yards and two TDs.
Bryant might win this with deep passes and special teams. North LR's man coverage has been suspect to long pass plays this fall, and Coach Jamie Mitchell admitted kicking game concerns in August. Bryant didn't attempt onside kicks or special teams trick plays in the first meeting but might this time with success. Stealing a possession or score could plunder a trophy for Bryant.
Bryant's physical offensive line handled North LR's quick, stunting defensive line better than expected in the first meeting. The Hornets need more of the same on Saturday along with big plays and a lot of 50-50 ball wins by receivers.
North LR probably has the better team and title game experience, but there is no bigger stage than Bryant's annual Salt Bowl matchup with Benton. If Bryant goes with Ledbetter, both teams will start sophomore QBs. North LR's Kareem Cotton has 12 starts but none like this. Cotton often targets University of Memphis tight end commit Drew Martin. North LR has won 25 straight and 32 of its past 34 games.

LAST WEEK correctly predicted both winners in Class 7A games. For the season, is 80-24 (77 percent) predicting 7A games.

WEEK 14 PREDICTIONS (favored team in CAPS followed by points spread)
Bryant vs. NORTH LR (1)

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