If old school, smashmouth running and stout defense is your kind of football, Blackwood Stadium was the place for you to be as 6A’s 4th-ranked Sylvan Hills Bears welcomed the 3rd-ranked Little Rock Parkview Patriots for a second round playoff matchup.
After a 2-3 start, first year coach Chris Hill and this Bears squad have won 6 straight clinching the 6A East crown behind Taevion Cunningham and their Flexbone rushing attack.
“After the first two games we knew that if the kids bought in that we would get things figured out,” Sylvan Hills head coach Chris Hill said. “They kept plugging, kept working, and that’s been the difference.”
The Patriots lost to Benton 30-20 in week 6 after taking two weeks off due to COVID protocol and had not looked back, before tonight, since then. Led by the rushing attack of quarterback Landon Rogers, a Razorback commit, and running back James Jointer Jr they scored over 40 points in their previous three games.
The first quarter was a defensive battle with neither team able to score a single point. Sylvan Hills was backed up within their own 10, and it looked like Parkview was in business after the Bears’ punt on 4th down on went just 21 yards.
Sylvan Hills’ defense stood tall as they were able to force and recover a fumble taking over at their own 5.
Offensive struggles continued for Parkview when Rogers’ pass was intercepted by Keenan Hunter with 10:30 left in the first half which led to a 5-yard touchdown run by D.J. Smith.
“Coming off of ACL surgery from last year, D.J. has played very well,” Hill mentioned. “He’s very physical, runs to the ball. What a lot of people don’t understand is the great things he does even without the football in his hands. That is what you have to do in this offense.”
Sylvan Hills pushed the ball across midfield as the final seconds were ticking down in the 1st half and attempted, but failed, on long field goal still preserving a 7-0 lead going into the half.
It was looking like the Bears were going to take a two score lead with their first drive of the second half, but a mishandled option led to a turnover giving the Patriots possession at their own 10. They were unable to capitalize.
Towards the end of the third quarter it appeared Parkview was going to close in on the lead when Rogers connected with Xavier Branch down the left sideline for a 37-yard gain on 4th down, but again the Patriots weren’t able to get it in the end zone.
Sylvan Hills was able to take care of business from that point forward during the fourth when Shajuan Esteen intercepted an underthrown pass that played a major part in putting the finishing touches on the game.
The Bears (9-3) only needed a touchdown and great defense to win 7-0 as they advance to the semifinals. They welcome Lake Hamilton to Blackwood Stadium next weekend.
Parkview finishes the season with a 9-2 record.
Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter