Badgers rout Rivercrest in 4A quarterfinal to face Harding Academy

Arkadelphia coach Trey Schucker was caught baby-sitting after Friday's 48-13 victory over Rivercrest in the 4A playoffs.


ARKADELPHIA, Ar. — Donavan Whitten is a legitimate college prospect at quarterback. Whitten (6-3, 220) and his Arkadelphia teammates are two wins away from the 4A state championship after routing Rivercrest Friday night, 48-13.

Whitten completed 13 of 24 passes for 204 yards and five touchdowns against the previously unbeaten Colts (10-1).

“Donovan has several Division II offers,” said winning coach Trey Schucker. “I hope people recognize him. I think he’s one of the best (quarterbacks) in Arkansas at any level. I’ll endorse him to play anywhere.”

It appeared Rivercrest’s long road trip had no effect on the Colts at the start. That changed in the second half.

Junior Evan Bailey hauled in a 13-yard scoring pass from Whitten, and Broc Currey converted the PAT with 9:16 left in the first quarter.

Great kick coverage and a penalty pinned Rivercrest down at its own 8. Backup quarterback Cavonta Washington found starting signal-caller Michael Rainer running alone at midfield. Rainer pulled away from the Badger’s secondary en route to a 92-yard touchdown with 7:54 left in the opening quarter.


Rivercrest couldn’t stop Donovan Whitten

Whitten threw another 13-yard touchdown pass to Tripp Campbell with 3:06 remaining, giving Arkadelphia (11-0) the lead for good.

“Rivercrest is a very talented team, and they’re well coached,” said Schucker. “Early in the game we had a lot of situations that didn’t go our way. I was proud of our guys for overcoming that.”

Schucker noted there were two occasions that could be called turning points in the game. A 47-yard punt return by Ja’Quavus Purifoy; a blocked punt midway into the third quarter; and Kelbern Middleton’s 45-yard interception return were other key moments in the game.

“When we hit that second touchdown in the first quarter was big,” he said. “That’s when we really started getting into a rhythm. Then at the start of the second half our defense got them off the field, and we went down and scored.”

Buckley scores final two touchdowns

Rivercrest answered the Badgers’ second score with its final points, a 3-yard run by junior Koby Turner. Whitten’s third touchdown pass made it 21-13 at intermission.

LaTonnieo Hughes, Purifoy and DeAngelo Buckley scored the Badgers’ second half touchdowns. Buckley had the last two six-pointers from 10 and 48 yards.

The 48 points Arkadelphia scored was the lowest figure so far in the playoffs. The Badgers beat Ozark, 52-21, and stomped Clinton, 49-21.

Defending 3A state champion Harding Academy will host the Badgers next Friday. The second semifinal features two of Arkadelphia’s conference rivals, Malvern and Nashville.