Early adversity hasn’t slowed focused Wolves going into Hot Springs showdown

Lake Hamilton plays top-ranked Greenwood for the 6A state championship Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Head coach Tommy Gilleran says the team with the fewest mistakes will probably win.


Lake Hamilton has been able to stay focused and take care of business its first two games despite losing senior quarterback Layne Warrick to injury in a preseason scrimmage.

Most arm-chair prognosticators have the Wolves at least a two touchdown favorite going into Thursday’s game at Hot Springs (1-1). The Trojans climbed into the win column last week, beating Mena in overtime. Lake Hamilton (2-0) is ranked second in Class 6A with wins over Hot Springs Lakeside and Malvern.

“One of the things we know is that Hot Springs is fast,” said Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran. “We’re going to run at them. We’ll attack them to negate a little of that speed. You’ll see some misdirection to keep them from teeing off on us.

“Hot Springs has struggled offensively the first two games, but they may start hitting their rhythm soon. We need to play good solid defense like we have the last couple of weeks to keep them from scoring many points.”

Gilleran acknowledges his team has played well since Warrick’s injury. The Wolves have only completed two passes in their first two games. That doesn’t concern Lake Hamilton’s coach.

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Wolves focused on running the ball

Senior Owen Miller, junior Tevin Woodley and Kendrick Martin have produced more than 700 yards on the ground in those two wins. Miller is averaging 8.5 yards per carry with a team-high 341 yards. Woodley is close behind with 286 yards, and leads the scoring attack with five touchdowns.

“Layne is getting better,” said Gilleran. “It’s just a matter of when the doctor releases him. We’ll obviously be happy to get him back.”

The Wolves’ defense has yielded some points, but has been dominant in the clutch situations. Sophomore Justin Crutchmer leads the defense with 17 tackles. Izaiah Cleney has 16 tackles, Marion Conrad 15, and Juan Maldonado 13.

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“Crutchmer is a good football player; he can play anywhere,” said Gilleran. “We’re glad we have him. He makes us a better football team for sure. We brought him up from the junior varsity last year at the end, and he played some.”

When Gilleran was told the Wolves are a 16-point favorite over Hot Springs, his reponse was “are we?”

“We can’t control that sort of stuff,” he said. “We just want to focus on the game, and control the things we can.”

Lake Hamilton gets the nod this Thursday, 24-14.

In other action around the region:

TEXARKANA at Warren — Razorabacks may come out slow and rusty having not played a game. Arkansas High is ranked third in 5A and should prevail, 27-21.

De Queen at CENTERPOINT — This game was scheduled this week after Leopards encounter with Fouke was canceled. Knights’ really looked good on offense last week. Centerpoint wins, 21-14.

Hope at PRESCOTT — The second-ranked team in 3A should roll in this rivalry game, 28-14.

HOT SPRINGS LAKESIDE at Malvern — Probably won’t be decided until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Taking the Rams, 22-21.

Horatio at FOREMAN — Nobody figured it would take the Gators this long to win a game. Foreman puts one in the win column, 26-6.

Jessieville at DIERKS — Small upset her with the Outlaws stopping Jessieville, 14-10.

MAGAZINE at Cutter Morning Star — Nobody showing any pity as Magazine rolls, 37-13.

GURDON at Mineral Springs — Go-Devils outman Mineral Springs, 28-0.

Murfreesboro at POYEN — This game could be closer than expected. Still like Poyen to win, 41-21.

Bearden at MOUNT IDA — A good opportunity for Mount Ida to put one in the win column, 26-14.

Teams off this week: Arkadelphia, Ashdown, Fountain Lake, Nashville, Bismarck, Genoa Central.