By John R. Schirmer
DE QUEEN – For the first time since 2011, the Saline River Walking Stick resides in De Queen. The traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the Nashville/De Queen game had been safely tucked away in Nashville’s field house for 17 of its 18 seasons.
Friday night, it went back to De Queen as the Leopards (1-1) defeated the Scrappers (1-1) 49-42 in a non-conference game.
De Queen first claimed the trophy during the regular season of 2011, but the Scrappers got it right back in the state playoffs when De Queen was a Class 4A school and Nashville defeated the trophy. There won’t be a rematch this season, as De Queen is now in Class 5A.
“It was a tough loss for our guys,” Coach Mike Volarvich said of last Friday’s game. You have to give credit to De Queen. They have some good, physical athletes. They out-physicaled us most of the night. That, combined with too many mistakes” led to the Leopard victory.
“We turned the ball over 5 times. Two were on fourth down, so they were kind of like a punt, but a turnover on downs is still a turnover. It’s hard to win like that,” Volarvich said.
Defensively, “We didn’t tackle extremely well. We were not where we were supposed to be a lot of the time.”
The loss dropped the Scrappers out of Rex Nelson’s Road to the Rock Rankings. They held on to a spot in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s top six, dropping to number five in Class 4A behind Pea Ridge, Warren, Joe T. Robinson and Prairie Grove. Arkadelphia is number six.
For the coaches and players, “We always have to be correcting, whether it’s after a win or loss. We always evaluate. We’ll learn from our mistakes and work hard” to correct them.
Despite the loss, “Some of our guys did some good things,” Volarvich said. “They made some big plays. They scored a bunch of points, but not enough.”
Dominick Kight caught 2 long touchdown passes, Volarvich said. Ty Pettway and Levester Gillard made TD pass receptions.
Even with the big plays, “We need to put more consistent drives together.”
As the Scrappers prepare for Idabel this week, “We will focus on getting better at what we do,” Volarvich said.
Pettway scored the first touchdown of the night on a 30-yard pass from Tyler Hanson. Jhonny Pioquinto’s PAT put Nashville on top 7-0 early in the first quarter.
The Leopards responded with a 67-yard touchdown run for a 7-7 tie.
Nashville took the lead again on a 44-yard pass from Hanson and another PAT from Pioquinto.
De Queen’s reply – a 35-yard scoring pass.
Trent Harris put Nashville on top with a 9-yard TD run. De Queen tied the game at 21-21 by running the ball 18 yards near the end of the first quarter.
The Leopards took the lead 28-21 on a 39-yard run in the second quarter and followed it up by intercepting a Scrapper pass and returning it 28 yards for a 35-21 advantage.
Kight pulled the Scrappers to within a touchdown when he scored on a 72-yard pass from Hanson to cut the margin to 35-28 De Queen at halftime.
The Leopards went ahead by two touchdowns in the third quarter on a 44-yard run.
Kight narrowed the gap to 42-35 on a 63-yard scoring pass from Hanson.
De Queen’s last score of the night came on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Scrappers’ final TD was a 5-yard run by Harris.
For the night, Hanson completed 20 of 37 passes for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was intercepted 5 times.
Harris was Nashville’s leading rusher with 13 carries for 81 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Hanson carried the ball twice for 13 yards.
Gillard had 1 carry for 7 yards. Carmillias Morrison picked up 5 yards on 1 carry. Pettway ran the ball twice for 1 yard.
Kight led the Scrapper receivers with 68 catches for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns, followed by Gillard with 1 catch for 44 yards and a TD.
Jhalon Finley and Harris had 4 catches each for 40 and 37 yards, respectively.
Garrett Lance made 3 catches for 32 yards. Pettway had 2 receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown.
Jordan White was the leading tackler for the Scrappers with 14 tackles, 8 assists, a sack and a tackle for a loss.
Isaac Johnson had 9 tackles, 5 assists and a TFL.
J.R. Middleton recorded 4 tackles and 2 assists. Lance Easter had 4 tackles, 3 assists, a sack and a TFL.
Other Scrappers with tackles included C.J. Adams, Shun Childress, Darren May, Jamarte Gilliam, Kight, Kailus Hughes, Aaron Lott, Harris, J.J. King and D’Ante Jefferson.
Kight picked off a Leopard pass.
Pioquinto was 6 of 6 on PATs.
On the De Queen side, Hunter Earney had 27 rushes for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also scored on an interception return.
The Scrappers and Leopards were even in total plays at 57 each.
Nashville posted 429 yards total offense, including 332 passing and 97 rushing.
The Scrappers had 12 first downs, with 13 for De Queen.
Nashville lost 5 turnovers, with 1 for the Leopards.
The Scrappers were penalized 5 times for 46 yards. De Queen had 7 penalties for 65 yards.
• • • • • • • • • •
By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville Scrappers will try to bounce back from last week’s loss to De Queen as they travel to Oklahoma Friday night to take on Idabel. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Scrappers defeated the Warriors 91-63 last season in a game which saw the teams tie the Arkansas state record for most combined points in a game at 154.
Idabel enters this week’s game with a 1-1 record. The Warriors defeated Hugo 57-21 Sept. 8 but lost to Broken Bow 30-17 Sept. 1.
The Scrappers are concentrating on “getting better at what we do” as they prepare for the trip to Idabel, Coach Mike Volarvich said Monday. “We still have a lot of mistakes. We still have a lot of people going the wrong way. We call a stunt and they don’t run it. Players have to do what they’re coached to do instead of doing it their own way.”
Idabel has an offense “that puts up points. Their top two receivers are back from last year. They have three or four guys who can score any time they touch the ball,” according to Volarvich.
“Number 11 [Tyrone] Howell is the best we played against all last season. He’s back this year and is definitely a problem. He’s very explosive.”
Idabel jumped out to a 16-0 lead against Hugo in the first quarter last week and led the Buffaloes 30-7 at halftime. The Warriors outscored Hugo 27-14 in the second half.
Idabel posted 19 first downs compared to 8 for Hugo.
Defensively, the Warriors “are very big. They have some athletes on the line.”
Some of Idabel’s “athletic receivers are in the secondary also,” Volarvich said.
Idabel switched defensive schemes from last year, according to Volarvich. “We can’t turn the ball over. We have to execute.”
The Warriors held Hugo to 56 yards rushing and 105 passing last week.
For the Scrappers, “We’ll have to carry out assignments and dominate the line of scrimmage.”
Friday night’s game will mark the final tune-up for the Scrappers before entering District 7-4A competition next week. Nashville will visit Arkadelphia in the first conference game Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.