By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville Scrappers outscored Malvern 33-7 in the first quarter and went on to mercy rule the Leopards 54-21 Oct. 28 during Senior Night at Scrapper Stadium.
Nashville (9-0, 6-0) put the Leopards away quickly as the Scrappers won their third consecutive District 7-4A championship.
“I was happy with the way we came out,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “We played hard. We did some good things in all 3 phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams.”
The offensive line “did a good job. They played extremely physical. We ran for 388 yards. Hanson completed 3 of 5 passes” for 125 yards. Jake Moorer completed 2 of 2 passes for 24 yards, giving the Scrappers 537 yards total offense.
“Our O-line had their way with Malvern’s defensive line and knocked them around,” Volarvich said.
Darius Hopkins scored 4 touchdowns in the first quarter on his way 319 yards rushing on 18 carries. Hopkins scored on runs of 22, 12, 1 and 29 yards. He added his fifth and final TD of the night in the second quarter on a 52-yard run.
“Hopkins was outstanding,” Volarvich said. “He scored all 5 touchdowns in the first half.”
Austin Gibbs picked off a Leopard pass in the first quarter and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown.
Dominick Kight scored on a 42-yard pass from Tyler Hanson in the second quarter, and TK Hopkins added the final Scrapper TD on a 1-yard run before halftime.
“TK’s had an increasing role” after Trent Harris was injured earlier in October. Friday night, “He had 13 carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.”
He had a 99-yard kick return called back on a penalty. “The penalty didn’t affect his run. There’s an explosiveness about him that’s a good thing,” Volarvich said.
Sophomore quarterback Moorer “does a good job staying poised and doing what we give him,” Volarvich said.
Jose Hernandez converted on 6 of 8 PATS and appeared to connect on another kick which was ruled a miss by one of the officials.
Nashville put up all of its points in the first half, including 33 in the first quarter and 21 in the second. “We were able to play a bunch of guys,” Volarvich said. “Everybody played and got a chance to do some things.”
Complete rushing totals for the Scrappers include Darius Hopkins with 18 carries for 319 yards and 5 TDs, TK Hopkins with 13 carries for 55 yards and a TD, Hanson 1 carry for 11 yards, N. Morrison with 3 carries for 9 yards, Garrett Lance 1 carry for 3 yards.
Kight had 2 receptions for 90 yards and a TD. Ty Pettway made 1 catch for 35 yards. L. Gillard had 1 reception for 21 yards. J. Medina made 1 catch for 3 yards.
The first-team Scrapper defense gave up 7 points in the first quarter. Malvern’s other touchdowns came against subs in the second half. Malvern “kept their starters in. I’m happy with the way our back-up guys competed. We got a chance to rest our starters and get the younger guys some reps,” Volarvich said.
Kailus Hughes led the team with 7 solo tackles and 2 assists. Hunter White had 7 solo tackles and 4 tackles for losses. Carpenter made 5 tackles and had 2 TFLs.
Other solos and assists came from Garrett Gordon, Jordan White, Davion Holmes, Austin Gibbs, Dennis Scott, Michael Bevill, Zach Jamison, Mace Green, CJ SPencer, Marquell McFalls, Jordan Summers, Xavier Nunally, Dalton Smead, Kenneth Luper, Nick Garcia, Jacoree Walker, Jesse Davis, Armani Hatchet and Tyae Harris.
Gibbs recovered the only turnover of the night when he made an interception and ran the ball in for a touchdown.
The Scrappers had 12 first downs against Malvern. They converted on 4 of 6 third down attempts.
Nashville had 6 penalties for 75 yards. Malvern had 8 for 60 yards.
Volarvich said the Leopards have been “kind of up and down all year after the injury bug bit early. Some guys are back, but it’s hard to get the team in rhythm when they’re playing a bunch of different guys in different positions.”
For the Scrapper seniors, winning the district championship each season of their high school career is something that “not many get a chance to do. Our seniors up to this point have lost 2 games in 3 seasons,” Volarvich said. They lost to Fountain Lake during the regular season their sophomore year and fell to Dardanelle in the state playoffs.
The seniors’ record “is something to be proud of,” Volarvich said.
The seniors include Hunter White, CJ Spencer, Darius Hopkins, Zach Jamison, Sam Cogburn, Mace Green, Dalton Smead, Jacoree Walker, Jose Hernandez, Kenneth Luper, Taylor Ericksen, Jordan Summers, Michael Bevill, Austin Gibbs, Garrett Gordon, Antonio Haney, Austin Bowman, Triston Rhodes, Justin Bean, Marquell McFalls, Daniel Pioquinto, Kirby Adcock and manager Zack Perez.
Senior Night was held Friday, Oct. 28, before the Scrappers’ last regular-season home game against Malvern. Stadium announcer Johnny Wilson introduced each senior band member, cheerleader and football player, along with members of the families.