Sheridan challenges second-ranked Wolves in playoff opener

Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran works with senior quarterback Layne Warrick (13) during Tuesday's practice. Warrick is expected to see his first action of 2020 Friday night against Sheridan.


PEARCY, Ark. – Lake Hamilton football coach Tommy Gilleran warns his team that half of the teams in Arkansas will be one-and-done after Friday’s playoff openers. The second-ranked Wolves (8-1) are big favorites in Friday’s first round encounter with Sheridan (2-8).

“We don’t look at records; we talk about their players, and how to beat them,” said Gilleran. “Sheridan graduated its offensive line last year. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that. Sheridan runs to the ball well on defense, and its offense plays hard to the end.”

Lake Hamilton and Sheridan have had only one common opponent this season. The Wolves beat Lakeside it their opener, 38-17. The Rams beat Sheridan, 35-7. The Yellowjackets did give Lake Hamilton a scare in 2019 when they were in the same district. That contest was tied 10-10 at halftime, but the Wolves won, 17-10.

The Yellowjackets’ two wins in 2020 were against Jacksonville and West Memphis.

One of Lake Hamilton’s receivers hauls in a long pass from starting quarterback Grant Bearden at Tuesday’s practice.

Warrick expected to play against Sheridan

Senior quarterback Layne Warrick started against the Yellowjackets in 2019. He played a role in both of the Wolves’ touchdowns before getting injured. Warrick has not played in 2020 because of an injured shoulder, but is expected back Friday. Junior Grant Bearden is the probably starter.

“Layne is playing, he’ll get his feet wet,” said Gilleran. “Sheridan doesn’t throw the ball a lot, so it could be a fast game.”

Two Sheridan players that the Wolves must contain are seniors running back Peyton Edwards and Seth Cunningham. Edwards also plays cornerback on defense, and Cunningham is the Yellowjackets’ middle linebacker.


Lake Hamilton’s wing-t is explosive

Lake Hamilton’s wing-t offense is led by Bearden and running backs Tevin Woodley, Owen Miller and Kendrick Martin. Woodley has rushed for 1,445 yards and 16 touchdowns. Miller has 1,277 yards and 15 TDs. He has also caught six passes for 182 yards and two TDs. Martin is averaging nine yards per carry with 521 yards and five TDs.

Defensively, the Wolves are led by linebackers Isaiah Clenney and Justin Crutchmer. Clenney leads the team with 100 tackles, including four sacks. Crutchmer has 94 tackles. Junior Ethan Watson paces the secondary with four interceptions, while causing three fumbles and recovering two.

The Wolves also have an outstanding weapon in junior kicker Alex Hurtz. He’s booted 42 of 44 PATs and 5 of 8 field goals.

The winner of this game advances to play El Dorado or Siloam Springs.

In other regional games:

Hot Springs (3-4) at WHITE HALL (6-4) – Trojans haven’t played the same since being quarantined for two weeks. Bulldogs win, 28-14.

BEARDEN (4-6) at Mount Ida (4-6) – Bearden has faced some tough competition. It sneaks past the Lions, 21-18.

Star City (4-4) at ARKADELPHIA (6-1) – Badgers another team that’s struggled with Covid-19. Still like Arkadelphia here, 27-7.

FOUNTAIN LAKE (4-4) at Pottsville (3-5) – The Cobras have proven to be real fighters. Look for them to win, 17-8.

Mountainburg (3-5) at DIERKS (8-1) – Outlaws not about to quit now, 34-12.

Murfreesboro (5-5) at QUITMAN (5-5) – This game is a tossup. Have to go with the home team, 21-20.

Alma (2-8) at TEXARKANA ARKANSAS HIGH (5-0) – Razorbacks out to prove something, 42-7.

Beebe (2-6) at CAMDEN FAIRVIEW (5-4) – Fairview a darkhorse to watch in 5A. The Cardinals romp, 34-7.