By John R. Schirmer
Former Scrapper coach the late Billy Laird used to say that “if you’re still playing on Turkey Day, you’re a pretty dad-gum good football team.”
The Nashville Scrappers will practice at 9 o’clock Thanksgiving morning, Turkey Day, as they prepare for their quarterfinal game against Shiloh Christian Friday, Nov. 23, in Springdale. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Scrappers (10-2) advanced to this week’s game by defeating Bauxite 41-18 Nov. 16. Shiloh (11-1) defeated Mena 59-7 Nov. 16.
“I’m excited about Thanksgiving Week,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “It’s a special time. Not a lot of kids get to experience it” with practice Thanksgiving morning.
“We have a great challenge against the number one team in 4A, Shiloh,” Volarvich said. “They’ve won 11 in a row.”
The Saints are “one of the top offensive and defensive teams in state stats,” according to Volarvich. They’re averaging 43.6 points per game on offense while giving up 11.8 points per game.
“Their defense has only allowed 21 or more points two times this season,” Volarvich said. “In seven games, they’ve held their opponents to seven points or less.”
Shiloh’s only loss came against Arkansas High in Zero Week. The Saints handed Beggs, Okla., its only loss of the season during Week 3.
“Their body of work speaks for itself,” Volarvich said. “This will be a good challenge.”
Quarterback Eli Reece has completed 134 of 192 passes for 2,027 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions. The leading receiver for Shiloh is Truitt Tollett, who’s caught 66 passes for 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Jarret Russ has run the ball 90 times for 464 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Saints also “throw him the ball at receiver,” Volarvich said
Jaiden Henry, son of former Scrapper Willie “Moe” Henry, has carried 49 times for 396 yards and five touchdowns. He also plays on defense.
“They have some go-to guys,” Volarvich said. “They’re a pass-first team.”
On defense, the Saints are
“similar to us. They’re not real big, and they play extremely fast,” Volarvich said.
Micah Button is the leading tackler for Shiloh with 63. He also leads the team in interceptions with four.
Jack Lotspeich is the sack leader with 4.5.
Shiloh is “extremely well coached. The kids do what they’re supposed to do.”
For Nashville on offense, Tristen Jamison has completed 63 of 125 passes for 798 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions. Ty Basiliere is the leading receiver with 24 catches for 499 yards and six touchdowns.
Keyshawn Stewart is Nashville’s leading rusher with 177 carries for 1,143 yards and 13 TDs. He’s followed closely by carmillias Morrison with 149 carries for 1,064 yards and nine touchdowns.
Devonte Witherspoon is Nashville’s leading tackler with 146, including 25 last week against Bauxite. He also leads in sacks with four and is tied for the lead in interceptions with Levester Gillard. Both have four interceptions.
Volarvich said this is “an exciting week” for the Scrappers. They practiced at 11 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, with the 9 a.m. practice planned for Thanksgivng Day.
They’ll board the buses Friday for the trip to northwest Arkansas.
Shiloh leads the all-time series with Nashville 2-1.
The Scrappers won the most recent meeting 48-23 on Nov. 20, 2015.