By John R. Schirmer
The Nashville Scrappers opened the season with a 60-20 victory over Hope Friday night in front of a packed house at Scrapper Stadium.
“I’m excited to get the first win at home,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “It was good to see the support from the community. I’m glad they came out.”
Former Coach Joe Goodrum and the 1967 Scrappers were recognized before the game.
The team was declared the state champion by The Associated Press.
Goodrum and members of the team were introduced by stadium announcer Johnny Wilson.
Earlier, Goodrum was honored during a meet and greet in the Scrapper Room at the stadium.
Volarvich said the Scrappers “played with good effort” against Hope. “We played hard. There were a lot of mistakes with this being the first game. There’s a lot to clean up in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and kicking.”
Offensively, “We had some missed assignments, some confusion up front. Give Hope a lot of credit for that. Their defense caused some confusion,” Volarvich said.
For many of the Scrappers, Friday night marked their first time to start. There were eight first-time starters on offense and seven on defense, according to Volarvich. “We’re a work in progress. We need to improve. We’ll work on our mistakes and try to get better every week.”
Despite the first-game mistakes, the Scrappers had “guys with big plays. Carmillias Morrison and Trent Harris made some good runs. They were exciting to watch,” Volarvich said.
Quarterback Tyler Hanson had a good night, according to Volarvich. He completed 17 of 21 passes for 320 yards for three touchdowns and ran for another score. “Two or three of the incompletions were dropped passes,” Volarvich said.
Levester Gillard “stepped up. He had a good game. He got behind the defense and made some good catches.”
Up front, the offensive line “played really hard. There were a couple of busted assignments, but a lot of that was due to being new to the o-line. As a unit, they played really hard,” Volarvich said, as evident by the Scrappers putting up more than 600 yards total offense.
On defense, Isaac Johnson led the team in tackles. He was among five or six Scrappers who missed practice last Thursday to attend the funeral of a family member. “There was a lot of grief. It was a tough deal for him to lead in tackles. He had a very solid fall camp. He has a knack for being where he’s supposed to be.”
Johnson recorded 12 tackles against the Bobcats, with 11 by Jordan White. Dominick Kight posted three tackles and an interception. He also caused a fumble. “He had a huge hit that gave us a spark,” Volarvich said. Kight saw plenty of time on offense as well, making three receptions for 59 yards.
Jhalon Finley had five catches for 45 yards.
Former Bobcats Dalton Potter and King “played well” against their old school, Volarvich said. Potter made seven tackles and recorded a tackle for a loss. King had three tackles.
“After the game, they told me they were excited to go up against their old team. They were glad to get a win,” Volarvich said.
Defensively, Johnson led the team with 7 tackles, 5 assists and 2 TFLs. White was next with 11 total tackles. Aaron Lott was in on 5 tackles, including 2 TFLs.
Total tackles for other Scrapper defenders included J.R. Middleton 6, Potter 7, Jefferson 4, King 3, Kight 3, Holmes 2, Gillard, Hughes, CLayton, Reisinger, Young and Davis 1 each, May, Harris, Gilliam, Easter and Adams 2 each.
Colton Patterson made an interception, and Kight had an interception and a fumble recovery.
Hope scored first on a 10-yard run in the first quarter. The Scrappers responded with a 3-yard scoring pass from Hanson to Kight. The PAT was no good, leaving Hope on top 7-6.
Harris and Morrison added the next Scrapper scores on runs of 6 yards and 1 yard, respectively, giving Nashville a 20-7 lead, still in the first quarter.
Jaloni Davis pulled the Bobcats to within seven points on a 14-yard run.
Kight rounded out the first-quarter scoring by catching a 6-yard TD pass from Hanson.
Neither team scored in the second quarter, with Nashville on top 26-13 at halftime.
The Scrappers outscored Hope 34-7 in the second half.
In the third quarter, Harris scored on a 4-yard run, followed by Morrison with a 27-yard run. The Bobcats returned an interception 34 yards to put the margin at 40-20 Nashville.
Hanson ran the ball in from the 8 to wrap up the third-quarter scoring.
In the fourth quarter, Gillard caught a 34-yard TD pass from Hanson. Morrison scored the final TD of the night on a 48-yard run.
Morrison was the leading rusher for the Scrappers with 161 yards on 14 carries. He scored three touchdowns.
Harris ran the ball 12 times for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Davion Holmes carried once for 34 yards, and Hanson scored on a run.
Gillard was the leading receiver with 5 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Harris caught 3 passes for 69 yards and 2 TDs. Kight had 3 catches for 59 yards.
Finley made 5 catches for 45 yards, and Garrett Lance had 1 catch for 8 yards.
The Scrappers put up 651 yards total offense, including 320 passing and 331 rushing. Nashville had 23 first downs to 11 for Hope.
The Scrappers turned the ball over once on an interception. Hope lost two interceptions and a fumble.
Nashville was penalized twice for five yards. Hope had four penalties for 24 yards.
Overall, “It was a pretty good team effort. I’m happy with the effort and intensity. We came out injury free,” Volarvich said.
• • • • • • • • • •
Nashville will travel to De Queen Friday, Sept. 8, for the 90th meeting between the two former conference rivals. The Scrappers lead the series 62-25-2 and have won 9 of the last 10 games.
The winner will receive the Saline River Walking Stick presented by the Nashville News-Leader.
Kickoff at Leopard Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Scrappers enter the game after defeating Hope 60-40 in the season opener Sept. 1. De Queen lost to Mena 41-6 last week.
Nashville won the 2016 game 47-8 at Scrapper Stadium.
The Scrappers began their game preparations Monday, Labor Day. “We did a little laboring on Labor Day,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “There are some corrections to make off last week.”
Volarvich said there are “things to go back and look at on film and see that they had nothing to do with our opponent, like knowing our assignments and being disciplined. We need to take care of our own job, each individual player’s job. I want us to bring the excitement and effort from last week,” while cutting down on the mistakes.
For the Scrappers, De Queen will be the first of three road games in a row. “Traveling is a unique situation, especially with a bunch of younger guys. They have to understand that it’s a business trip. They have to pack, do pre-game, play at an away venue. They don’t need to forget a helmet or cleats,” Volarvich said. “An away game always brings difficulties.”
The Leopards “are coming off a big loss to Mena. They have a new coaching staff and new scheme. A learning curve comes with that. They’ll continue to improve,” Volarvich said.
“We’ve watched them. They play with a tight end, two running backs. It’s power football where they run the ball downhill. Defensively, they play from a 4-3,” Volarvich said.
“After one game, we’re limited in what we’ve seen them do. Mena is a lot different than us offensively. Each team will have a different game plan, and they may be different than us. We have to be more focused on what we do.”