HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Texarkana Arkansas High is expected to beat De Queen Friday night and win the 5A South championship.
Everything else is up for grabs. The winner of the Hot Springs at Lakeside game will determine second place. The Rams would claim the district’s second seed with a victory, while the Trojans would at least tied for second with Magnolia if they win. If the latter happens Hot Springs would be the third seed if Magnolia wins at home against Hope.
“There’s so much that could happen with a win, or a loss,” said veteran Lakeside coach Jared McBride. “We’re really focused in on Hot Springs, and want to make sure we do everything we can to win. I see us from a two-seed to a five-seed. Our kids know that, so our goal is to win, and get a home playoff game as the second seed.”
If the Trojans (3-3, 2-1) were to win, Lakeside (5-3, 3-1) would likely tie Camden Fairview for fourth place. Lakeside beat the Cardinals earlier this season so it would be the fourth seed, and Fairview the fifth seed.
McBride’s Rams have beaten Hot Springs eight times in the last 10 meetings, including last year’s 27-14 victory which earned Lakeside the 5A South crown.
Texarkana Arkansas High was early favorite
Despite having 16 returning starters in 2020, prognosticators picked Texarkana and Fairview ahead of the Rams in the preseason voting.
“I’m really proud of our kids, because of how they’ve prepared on and off the field,” said McBride. “We’ve played some really good football games, and continue to get better. I hope we carry that into the playoffs.
“Our defense is playing really well and I hope we continue to do that. “We’ve struggled to put up points at times. We’ve live on good field position, so it’ll probably be that type of football game with Hot Springs.”
McBride recognizes the Trojans will be bigger, and more athletic.
“Hot Springs always plays their best game against us,” he said. “I know they’ll be ready, they always are. We’ll be ready, but you’ve got to give them credit. They’re playing hard and it should be a great football game.”
Lakeside defense a strongpoint for Rams
There’s evidence that good defensive play has been the Rams’ strongpoint this season. The Rams’ defenders have intercepted 10 passes, recovered 9 fumbles and have a combined 23 sacks.
Senior linebacker William Perrigo (5-8, 200) leads the team with 109 total tackles (70 solo), and 4 sackes. Junior defensive end Steven Cummins has 43 tackles, including 5 sacks. Junior Jordan Mills has 6 sacks.
The secondary is led by junior Chance Cross with 41 tackles, a team high 3 interceptions and he’s defended 6 passes. Senior Jack Brown has 43 tackles, and Logan White has 41.
The Rams have their share of offensive weapons. They just haven’t jelled yet.
Senior quarterback Will Ross has completed 63 percent of his passes (114 of 187) for 1,377 yards, 4 interceptions, and 15 touchdowns. He has a stable of receivers in White, Cross, Brock Garner and Perrigo. White has 36 receptions for 446 yards and 7 touchdowns. Cross has caught 22 for 201 yards and 3 TDs, with Garner contributing 19 receptions for 211 yards and 3 TDs.
All three of the Rams’ setbacks in 2020 have been to good football programs (Lake Hamilton, Watson Chapel and Texarkana Arkansas High).
Hot Springs hasn’t beaten the Rams since 2015, which ironically was the last time Lakeside won a playoff game against Forrest City.