By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville Scrappers will play for their fifth state championship of the modern playoff era when they meet Prairie Grove Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
The Scrappers (14-0) advanced to the title game with a 42-20 win over Pea Ridge last week in the semifinals at Scrapper Stadium. Prairie Grove (13-1) defeated Arkadelphia 61-42 in the other semifinal.
Nashville and Prairie Grove met in the second round of the playoffs in 2014. Nashville won the game 49-32.
Tickets for the finals are available at the Nashville School District’s administration building through Friday. Advanced tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for students. All tickets will be $7 at War Memorial Saturday night. (See related story.)
The Scrappers won state in 1996 under Coach Billy Laird. They earned 3 state titles in a row under Coach Billy Dawson, defeating CAC in 2005, Warren in 2006 and Dollarway in 2007.
“It’s exciting,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “That’s the goal we had coming into the season. I talked to the players about it when I got here. Even in the interview process, I said my goal is to win state. I addressed this when I arrived, and the first day of fall camp, the goal was to win state this year.”
The Scrappers “have really bought into what we’ve done. We followed the Pyramid of Success. There’s one more place left on it,” Volarvich said.
Volarvich, Superintendent Doug Graham, Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols, NHS Principal Tate Gordon and Scrapper seniors Leonard Snell and Ashton Nelson attended a meeting Monday at the Arkansas Activities Association in Little Rock and at War Memorial Stadium.
They reviewed plans for the Scrappers’ walk-through and practice later this week at War Memorial. Nashville will visit the stadium Thursday at 12 noon.
They also talked about Saturday, and Volarvich participated in media interviews.
Snell and Nelson had the opportunity to visit the stadium and go into the press box. They saw some players they knew from other schools, Volarvich said.
Volarvich will wrap up his first season as a high school coach with this week’s appearance in the state finals. He came to Nashville after five years as offensive coordinator at Henderson State University, where the Reddie offense turned in record-breaking performances during his tenure.
The Scrappers went through their non-conference schedule with a 3-0 record, defeating Hope, De Queen and Watson Chapel. They were 7-0 in District 7-4A with wins over Arkadelphia, Fountain Lake, Ashdown, Mena, Waldron, Malvern and Bauxite. The Scrappers are 4-0 in the playoffs, defeating Crossett, Shiloh Christian, Warren and Pea Ridge.
The Scrappers have competed in the state playoffs 25 consecutive years.
A community pep rally will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at Scrapper Arena. Former Scrappers who played in the state finals are invited to attend. The pep rally will also feature guest speakers and a review of the season to date from the Scrapper Stadium press box voice of the Scrappers, Johnny Wilson. (See related story.)
Looking at this week’s opponent, Volarvich said Prairie Grove averages 45 points per game while holding opponents to 17 points per game. The Tigers’ only loss was to Farmington in the first game of the season.
“Their offense is very explosive. The Wing-T is their base. They run about 20 different formations. They really move you around on defense,” Volarvich said.
Prairie Grove’s running back “is a really good player. He runs the ball well and catches also. He has over 500 yards receiving. Stopping him will be a key. We’ve also got to do a key job defending the play action.”
The PG quarterback “throws very well. He’s thrown a lot of touchdown passes. They have a 6-7 receiver who’s a D-1 prospect. He has good hands and does a good job. They move around a lot. They don’t run a bunch of different plays but have a bunch of formations,” Volarvich said.
The Prairie Grove defense “has been tough all year. Our offense will have to continue to do what we’ve done all year. We can’t turn the ball over. We have to score.”
The Nashville/Prairie Grove game will be the final game of the high school season in Arkansas. “I’m excited about getting there. I think we’ll have a good turnout. It should be a good game,” Volarvich said.
Pep Rally Friday
A community-wide state championship game pep rally for the Nashville Scrappers will be held Friday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. at Scrapper Arena.
“We’re sending a special invitation to all former Scrappers who ever played in the state finals at War Memorial Stadium,” Superintendent Doug Graham said. “Part of the pep rally will be dedicated to any former Scrappers in attendance. We want to spread the word and hope to have a good number of former Scrappers.”
The pep rally will include a recap of the first 14 games of the season by Scrapper Stadium press box announcer Johnny Wilson.
Guest speakers are also planned.
Buy game tickets local
Buy your state championship game tickets in Nashville.
That’s the message from Superintendent Doug Graham for Scrapper fans planning to attend the Class 4A state finals Saturday night at 6:30 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Advanced tickets will be available today through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the school district administration building. Tickets bought locally are $7 for adults, $6 for students.
Under Arkansas Activities Association guidelines, all tickets bought at the stadium Saturday night will be $7.
The Nashville athletic program will be allowed to keep 80 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold in advance, Graham said. Nashville will receive only 40 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold Saturday night at the stadium.
“We’re encouraging fans to buy their tickets at home,” Graham said.