By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville Scrappers will play their first game on the new synthetic turf at Scrapper Stadium when they host De Queen Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Donors to the turf project will be recognized before the game.
Other stadium improvements include the band stand, new visitors bleachers and new press box on the visitors side.
At stake for the two teams will be bragging rights for another year and the Saline River Walking Stick, a traveling trophy which has spent most of its time in Nashville.
The Stick introduced by former Nashville News editor Louie Graves, now at the News-Leader, and former De Queen Bee editor Billy Ray McKelvey. Nashville has won the Stick 15 of the 16 times it has been presented. The only loss came during the regular season in 2011, but the Scrappers reclaimed the trophy that year by defeating De Queen in the playoffs.
De Queen has gotten better each year under Coach Justin Cramer, according to Scrapper Coach Mike Volarvich. The Leopards were winless in 2013. They picked up 1 win in 2014 and 4 victories in 2015.
“They’ve improved each year. As a coach, that’s what you’d want to see,” Volarvich said.
As the Scrappers prepare for Friday night, “We work on getting better at what we do, getting better at the things we do well.”
The Leopards are led at quarterback by Drew Dykes (6-4, 230). “He’s a big, strong kid. He won the state shot put championship last year in 5A,” Volarvich said.
The Leopards won their last two games in 2015 and picked up a victory over Mena last Friday night to open the season. “They have a 3-game streak. They have a little momentum going,” Volarvich said.
De Queen is “physical and big on the offensive and defensive lines. They play physical football,” according to Volarvich.
The Leopards have changed defensively from 3 down front instead of four, but they switch back occasionally, Volarvich said. “We’ll have to be sure we’re sound in what we do.”