Joe T. Robinson had an abysmal start to its season in Week 0 falling to 5A powerhouse Pulaski Academy 60-28, surrendering 37 points in the 2nd quarter. Though PA has been one of the top programs in Arkansas for all classifications over the last decade, the Senators just looked completely overmatched and did not appear they were prepared for the game.
“We knew PA would be a big challenge for us,” assistant coach Brian Maupin said. “We didn’t play much 7on7 this summer and going up against them was baptism by fire. We came out of that a different team and were able to show our players that if we don’t execute at a high level we can be beat.”
Robinson (5-1, 3-0) responded the following week against Maumelle overcoming a 34-21 deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take the game to overtime scoring a walk off touchdown to win it 47-44. In the final game of the non-conference schedule against 6A Marion, the Senators were able to finish strong again–this time on the defensive side closing out the Patriots 21-19.
“We love playing tough non-conference games,” Maupin mentioned. “It helps prepare us for our ultimate goal, a state championship.”
Since beginning conference play, the Senators have been one of the hottest teams in the state and have outscored their opponents 166-71 through three 7-4A games. They travel to Malvern Friday to square off against the Leopards (3-3, 2-1) who are attempting to rebound from a 21-8 loss at the hands of Ashdown. Robinson will head back home to play Bauxite (2-4, 0-3) next week and should easily take care of the Miners before heading down to southwest Arkansas to face Ashdown (6-0, 3-0) for what will presumably be the conference championship before concluding the regular season on senior night against Haskell Harmony Grove (2-3, 1-2).
Senior quarterback Jack Cleveland has developed nicely taking over the starting role after the graduation of Buddy Gaston, who was under center the previous two years leading the Senators to the 2019 state championship throwing for 44 touchdowns. After accumulating just 48 yards of total offense against Pulaski Academy, Cleveland has completed 71% of his passes for over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns compared to just 2 interceptions.
“Jack has been outstanding, he’s like the perfect kid,” Maupin Stated. “He’s always saying and doing the right things, truly a team-first kind of guy. He’s had to fight for every rep and I think that is what makes him who he is.”
Running back Daryl Searcy is averaging 7 yards per carry and has found the end zone four times while fellow seniors G’Kyson “Ky” Wright and KJ Owens have combined for over 1,000 total yards. Wright has been a Swiss army knife for Robinson throwing, rushing, and catching at least two touchdowns and each category.
“I feel like me being productive on the field also helps my teammates be more productive and it allows our whole team to have a good game,” Wright stated. “We have so many weapons that if the other teams focuses on one player, then it just opens the offense up for all of us.”
Coming into the season it was hard to imagine that anyone would be able to challenge defending state champion Shiloh Christian in Class 4A. The Saints had a dominant team last year and returned 15 starters including all-state junior quarterback Eli Wisdom, running back Ben Baker, and Razorback commit do-everything player Kaden Henley, just to name a few. While the Saints are still the favorite a little over halfway through the season, Robinson has week in and week out shown that it deserves plenty of credit as we head into the final month before playoffs begin.
Article published by Kyle Sutherland, @k_sutherlandHTP on Twitter