LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There’s no doubt that the two best teams in 6A will clash for the state championship Saturday night at 6:40 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium, according to Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran.
Last month top-ranked Greenwood (12-0) rallied from a 21-10 deficit in the third quarter at Lake Hamilton to beat the Wolves, 38-28. An onside kick recovery and fumble recovery in the final three minutes to stop a promising Lake Hamilton drive, proved disastrous for the second-ranked Wolves.
“I thought we should have won that game,” said Gilleran. “We’ve got to do a better job of staying in the gaps to slow their running game. We did a good job in the first half of that game, but were just off the gaps in the second half. They’re very dangerous throwing the ball, but we’ve gotten better. I thought we played well against El Dorado, and they had a good passing game.”
Greenwood back Hunter Wilkinson burned the Wolves’ defense in the final two quarters earlier, finishing with 203 yards and 2 touchdowns. Quarterback L.D. Richmond didn’t have to be spectacular thanks to Wilkinson’s performance. He’s dangerous, with a stable of outstanding receivers. Peyton and Camden Carter came up big in the Bulldogs’ perfect season.
Gilleran believes mistakes will determine winner
“It’ll take great efforts by both defenses to slow down the offenses,” said Gilleran. “This is a new experience for me. I’ve never coached played the same team twice in the same year.
“I suspect Greenwood is going to move its defensive front a little more this time. Scheme-wise we could see six, five and four-man fronts. We’ve got to do a good job of playing fast and well. Mistakes will be the big part. The team that makes the fewest amount of mistakes probably wins.”
Gilleran repeated himself on how important it will be to play four mistake-free quarters.
The Wolves (11-1) may need more than 28 points to win this contest, and they’ve got the weapons to do just that. Junior running backs Tevin Woodley and Owen Miller have combined for 3,558 yards and 45 touchdowns this season. Woodley leads to pack with 1,835 yards and 21 TDs.
Bearden a blessing for Wolves in 2020
Junior quarterback Grant Bearden didn’t need great passing statistics this season. Still, he threw for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns. Isaiah Clenney and Miller have been his favorite targets. Bearden is filling in for senior Layne Warrick, who was injured in the preseason. Warrick is back, and expected to play some Saturday.
Lake Hamilton’s defense has been just as impressive this season. It’s second half performance against Greenwood was an isolated showing.
Lineback Isaiah Clenney leads the Wolves’ defenders with 144 tackles and 4 sacks. Justin Crutchmer and Trent Singleton have 116 tackles each. Ethan Watson had 4 interceptions, and has forced 4 fumbles, while recovering 2. Lake Hamilton has intercepted 12 passes and recovered 10 fumbles as a team.