Out of the just under 200 teams that compete in football within Arkansas, you would be hard-pressed to find one that has endured more adversity halfway through the 2021 season more so than the Maumelle Hornets. Coming off of a 6-3 year in 2020, including a three week hiatus smack dab in the middle due to COVID-19 cancellations, the Hornets fully expected to compete for the crown of the rugged 5A Central with 14 starters returning including Razorback commits Andrew Chamblee and Nico Davillier. While that goal is still in reach, Maumelle currently finds itself at 1-4 overall after losing the conference opener 16-10 late at Little Rock Christian last Friday night. They will play their first game of the season at Hornet Stadium Friday due to delays in getting the new turf installed.
Things started off well for the Hornets in the opening game of Week 0 defeating Sylvan Hills 31-21 rallying from a 21-14 halftime deficit forcing the Bears into 4 turnovers in the second half. The following week against Joe T. Robinson they led 34-21 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but the Senators reeled off 20 points to take the game into overtime and were able to prevail in a thrilling 47-44 overtime finish. A Week 2 game with Vilonia ended in a 34-32 loss, but more so than the final score this one gained much statewide attention due to controversial comments made from a member of the Eagles broadcast team.
Many outside of the program did not give the Hornets a fighting chance in Week 3 traveling to Shreveport squaring off against the C.E Byrd Yellow Jackets, the defending Louisiana runner-up in its class. The Jackets were averaging around 400 yards rushing per game lining up in their offense consisting of both the Flexbone and Wing T formations, but Maumelle was able to hold them to just 221 yards in a heartbreaking 24-21 defeat that ended on a very questionable spot on 4th down that appeared to be converted.
To put into perspective how close they have been all year, the Hornets have scored 138 points to opponents’ 142 but have only put up 21 of those in the first quarter of play.
Roderick Watts, one of the more underrated players in the state, has been quarterback Weston Pierce’s favorite target averaging 15 yards per catch and hauled in 6 touchdowns, tied for 3rd-best in Arkansas. Hunter Specht has also been a reliable target averaging a team-leading 19 yards per catch.
The Hornets understandably have plenty of frustration built up and you can expect them to take it out on 1-3 Beebe Friday night for their homecoming game and the remaining bit next week when they travel to winless Jacksonville before returning home for a date with 2-time defending 5A champion Pulaski Academy on October 15th.
Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter