Class 5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

Class 5A Week 14 Rankings, Notes & Picks

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Class 5A, Week 14, 2019
Copyright Hooten Publishing, Inc.

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

No. 2 Pulaski Academy vs. No. 1 LR Christian

A rematch of last year's state championship game, which Little Rock Christian won 52-38, snapping Pulaski Academy's four-year title run. It's also a rematch from Week 5 this year, which LR Christian won 63-61 when junior Isaiah Hankins nailed a 38-yard field goal in the final seconds. PA led 61-54 with 2:43 left, but LR Christian scored a touchdown and recovered an onside kick to set up the winning play. Pulaski Academy, whose only losses this year are to teams playing in state title games (LR Christian and Ravenwood, Tenn.), has won eight straight, including an impressive 28-21 quarterfinal triumph at previously unbeaten Harrison. The Bruins are playing in their sixth straight state title game behind an offense averaging 56 points and 640 yards weekly. Senior Braden Bratcher completes 289 of 434 passes (67 percent) this year for 4,760 yards and 46 touchdowns with only nine interceptions. Bratcher threw for 529 yards and six TDs in last week's 68-41 victory over Morrilton. He threw for a career-high 764 yards and nine TDs in the season opening 84-68 win over Class 7A quarterfinalist Har-Ber, and passed for 619 yards and three TDs in the earlier matchup at LR Christian. Bratcher also has rushed for 700 yards and seven TDs this fall. Sophomore standout Joe Himon has sparks the attack this year with 4.4 speed. Himon has 115 carries this year for 1,201 yards and 14 TDs, and 47 receptions for 681 yards and four TDs. A dozen receivers have at least 10 receptions. Seniors Mason Kolb (64 catches for 1,119 yards and nine TDs) and Andrew Cobb (42 catches, 817 yards and five TDs) “have taken over as the main core of our receivers,” the coach says says. Senior slot receiver Jayden Kelley, who played running back last season, owns offers from UT-Martin and Illinois State. Kelley has 45 catches this year for 598 yards and five TDs this fall, including a season-best seven receptions for 97 yards and a TD at LR Christian.  The Bruins allow a deceptive 31.4 points per game, skewed by giving up 68 points to Har-Ber, 61 at Ravenwood, Tenn., and 63 to LR Christian. But the aggressive defense has forced 32 turnovers. Junior linebacker Futa Shinkawa has a team-high 132 stops this year, including 19 tackles for loss, and a pair of fumble recoveries. Senior team leader Chris Connell has made 63 stops, intercepted three passes and recovered one fumble. Seniors Clay James and Trent Sawyer anchor the secondary. James has 36 stops and nine interceptions, while Sawyer has 44 tackles and four interceptions. The Bruins have a record of 127-6 since 2003 when recovering at least one onside kick.

LR Christian plays in its third state title game (lost 27-6 in 2007), and the Warriors have won 22 straight since losing to PA 56-14 Week 5, 2018. Third-year coach Eric Cohu credits LR Christian's recent success to an improved defense. Cohu hired coordinator Lance Clark from Alabama in January 2018, “and we've been completely different,” the coach says. “We've put an emphasis on it.” The Warriors surrender 18 points a game and get a turnover weekly (forced five fumbles, intercepted eight passes). Senior middle linebacker and team captain Jackson Woodard has a team-high 121 stops this year, including 10 TFL and four forced fumbles, while playmaking junior Corey Platt has 120 stops and four interceptions (returned two for TDs). Sophomore lineman Titus Colquitt, who played in last year's playoff run as a freshman, took on an expanded role this year after senior end Pearson Dennis (61 tackles) tore his hamstring Week 10. Colquitt has 50 tackles this fall, including a team-high 14 TFL's. He's also recovered three fumbles. LR Christian's three-man defensive front was able to get pressure on Pulaski Academy earlier this year, allowing the Warriors to drop eight players into coverage. Senior receiver Chris Hightower, slowed with an injury in last year's title run, is fully healthy this fall (47 catches, 998 yards and 12 TDs; 19 carries for 164 yards and two TDs). “He's the best receiver in the state,” Kelley says. Senior bowling-ball RB Kendel Givens (5-8, 225) has 119 carries for 1,262 yards and 19 TDs, and 19 catches for 297 yards and three TDs. Versatile senior QB Akeem Gilmore completes 64 percent of his passes for 2,2235 yards and 22 TDs with six interceptions, and he's rushed 96 times for 778 yards and 12 TDs. “Those three have to play big for us to have a chance,” Cohu says.

LAST WEEK correctly predicted both semifinal games. has picked 173 of 212 games (82 percent) this season.

WEEK 14 PREDICTIONS (favored team in ALL CAPS)
PULASKI ACADEMY (4) vs. LR Christian

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