4A Rankings, Picks and Notes, Week 14, 2023

4A Rankings, Picks and Notes, Week 14, 2023

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Hootens.com Rankings

Class 4A, Week 14, 2023

Copyright Seventy Seven's Football Publishing, Llc

1. Harding Academy (13-0)
2. Warren (13-0)
3. Elkins (13-0)
4. Rivercrest (11-2)
5. Arkadelphia (7-4)
6. Ozark (10-3)
7. CAC (9-3)
8. Malvern (7-4)
9. Ashdown (7-5)
10. DeWitt (10-2)
11. Nashville (8-4)
12. Monticello (8-4)
13. Bauxite (8-4)
14.Mayflower (8-4)
15. Gravette (7-5)
16. Lincoln (8-4)
17. Crossett (6-5)
18. Lamar (7-4)
19. McGehee (5-5)
20. Clinton (7-4)
21. Blytheville (5-6)
22. Highland (7-4)
23. Pocahontas (7-4)
24. Pottsville (6-4)
25. Heber Springs (6-5)
26. Stuttgart (7-4)
27. Trumann (5-6)
28. Mena (5-6)
29. Bald Knob (4-6)
30. Gentry (5-6)
31. Gosnell (6-4)
32. H.G. Haskell (4-6)
33. Lonoke (3-7)
34. Dumas (4-6)
35. Hamburg (3-7)
36. Star City (1-9)
37. Green Forest (4-6)
38. Hall Steam (2-8)
39. Berryville (3-7)
40. Jonesboro Westside (1-9)
41. Dover (2-7)
42. Riverview (1-9)
43. Helena (0-10)
44. Huntsville (0-10)
45. Cave City (0-9)
46. Waldron (0-9)
47. Harrisburg (0-10)

Hootens.com correctly predicted 3 of 4 games, and for the season has picked 258 of 305 games (85 percent).


WEEK 14 PREDICTIONS (favored team highlighted in ALL CAPS)

No. 1 HARDING ACADEMY (13-0) at No. 3 Elkins (13-0)
This is the third meeting between these teams, with Harding Academy winning both previous matchups (34-7 in the 1998 first round and 28-0 in the first round in 1977). Harding Academy lost in the 1998 semifinals to Hector, which was quarterbacked by current Elkins Coach Zach Watson, who rushed 44 yards for a back-breaking touchdown in the third quarter.

UNDEFEATED HARDING ACADEMY won the 2-4A title this fall (its fifth consecutive league championship) beating 6 conference opponents by an average of 43-11. The Wildcats' most impressive wins have been in nonconference games. They beat eventual 5A East champion and playoff quarterfinalist Valley View 55-40 in the season-opener, and the next week took down eventual 6-3A champion and quarterfinalist Ouachita County Harmony Grove 38-7. The Wildcats also beat Ouachita Christian (La.) 31-14 in midseason, and Ouachita Christian plays in the Louisiana private school semifinals this week. Harding Academy also beat defending Class 4A champion Malvern 58-34 in the second round.

Junior quarterback Owen Miller shined in last week's 42-14 win over Ashdown, completing 18 of 19 passes for 268 yards and 5 TDs. Junior Endy McGulliard caught 6 passes for 75 yards and 3 TDs, while senior Kyler Hoover and junior running back Isaac Baker each caught TDs. Cam Pryor intercepted 2 passes, returning an interception 25 yards for a TD, while senior Wyatt Simmons led the defense in tackles. “Offensively, they spread you wide with their receivers, and it gives them run to operate in a light box,” Watson says.

UNDEFEATED ELKINS beat its 1-4A opponents by an average of 55-6, including 4 shutouts. The Elks beat eventual quarterfinalist Ozark 38-0 in Week 8. They've downed Clinton, Monticello and 4-4A champion Central Arkansas Christian by a combined 172-48 in the playoffs. One opposing coach says the Elks are the most complete team he's seen since Joe T. Robinson in 2019.

In last week's 53-15 victory at CAC, senior QB Dizzy Dean completed 15 of 25 passes for 223 yards and 2 TDs, while senior Da'Shawn Chairs ran 24 times for 250 yards and 5 TDs. Senior John Townsend caught 5 passes for 98 yards. Junior outside linebacker Ja'Quae Walden (6 tackles, 3 pass breakups) and sophomore Owen Baublits (5 tackles, 2 TFL) paced the defense. “Offensively, they have the best 1-2 punch we've seen,” Harding Academy Coach Neil Evans says. “They do a great job of moving the pocket for the quarterback, and he rarely struggles to know exactly where he wants to throw the ball.”

Common opponents: Elkins throttled Gentry 54-0 in Week 9, and 2 weeks later Harding Academy beat Gentry 49-12 in the first round of the playoffs

No. 2 WARREN  (13-0) at No. 4 Rivercrest (11-2)
This is a rematch of the 2020 semifinals, which Rivercrest won 55-35 in rainy and windy conditions.
These teams also met in the 2002 state title game, which Warren won 38-28. That win marked Warren's second consecutive state title under coach Bo Hembree, who also took Warren to state championships in 2014 and 2016.

WARREN whipped Ozark 45-7 a week ago. Freshman QB Jackson Denton (11-13-254-4 passing) made big plays, while senior RB Treylon Jackson ran for 101 yards and 1 TD. Juniors Antonio Jordan, Neon'dre Thomas and Tramone Miller caught TD passes. Jordan hauled in 6 passes for 111 yards and 2 TDs and ran 3 yards for a TD. Thomas caught 2 passes for 38 yards and Miller's only reception covered 48 yards.

RIVERCREST lost the 2020 title game to Shiloh Christian. Coach Johnny Fleming, a Colt assistant since 1998, assisted on the 2003 state runner-up team. He was promoted to head coach in 2018, months after Rivercrest captured the Class 3A state title. He was also an assistant on Rivercrest's 2010 title team. The Colts won their first state championship in 1985, two seasons after Fleming graduated from the school.

Rivercrest ran past Arkadelphia 36-12 a week ago, avenging last season's 48-13 quarterfinal loss at Arkadelphia. Senior Koby Turner carried the Colts, running 30 times for 168 yards and 3 TDs, while senior Michael Rainer added 7 carries for 46 yards and caught 3 passes for 38 yards. Junior QB Cavonta Washington, who was injured in the second quarter at Arkadelphia a year ago, completed 7 of 12 passes for 91 yards and ran 10 times for 48 yards. Turner (10 tackles) and senior Marcus Slayton (9 tackles) led a stout defense that manhandled Arkadelphia at times. Rainer made 4 tackles, recovered 1 fumble and returned an interception 30 yards to set up a TD. Junior cornerback Jakavion Williams returned an interception 47 yards for a TD.

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