On a cold November night in northwest Arkansas that resembled 1970s running football on a muddy, grass field, the Charleston defense recorded its first shut out of the year at West Fork. Charleston (4-5, 4-2) defeated West Fork (0-9, 0-6) 35-0. The conference win puts Charleston in the playoffs that will begin November 15.
The Charleston offense ran the ball effectively for most of the night, passing sparingly or just enough to support the running game. The Tigers led 21-0 at half and scored two more times in the second half before mass substituting in the fourth quarter.
The win at West Fork was the Tigers fourth conference victory of the season and was very important for Charleston as they head into the final week of the regular season next week at home when they host Lamar. After the game, Charleston head coach Ricky May praised his defense after the win. “We were just trying to get through (get the win and get his starters out of the game) and not get anybody hurt, and be classy, and go home with a victory. We kind of played sloppy at times, but hey, sometimes that happens. Defense played really well and we’ve got to keep doing that if we are going to be good.”
Offensively, Charleston attempted 22 passes and completed 15 for 183 yards. Receiving, the Tigers averaged 11.7 yards per reception for a total of 175 yards receiving.
Charleston ran the ball on 30 carries for 76 yards for an average of 2.5 yards per rush. All together, Charleston had 259 yards of total offense on the night.
Defensively, Charleston had 16 solo tackles and 34 assists on the night. The defense had 9 tackles for lost yardage. The Tigers defense added 3 sacks on the night for an additional 13 yards of loss yardage. The defense had one interception. Charleston produced two more turnovers by intercepting two West Fork passes.
As of publication time for this article, statistics were not available by Max Preps for West Fork.
In another important conference game that was played in Mansfield, the Tigers all but eliminated Cedarville from playoff contention with a home win against the Pirates. The Pirates are mathematically still alive in the playoff race, but playing at Booneville next week, and Greenland and Mansfield having the tie breaker advantages over Cedarville virtually eliminates Cedarville from the playoffs. In fact, for Cedarville to get into the playoffs, the Pirates would have to upset Booneville, Mansfield would have to lose to Paris, and Greenland would have to lose to West Fork.
The results of conference games played Friday night are:
Charleston 35, West Fork 0
Booneville 35, Lamar 7
Mansfield 43, Cedarville 26
Greenland 42, Paris 6
The conference standings after week nine of the season are:
West Fork 0-6
Cedarville’s loss to Mansfield is significant because it puts Mansfield back in the playoff picture. Mansfield owns the tie breaker over Cedarville, and next week, Cedarville plays at Booneville. So, barring upsets next week in Booneville and Paris, the five playoff teams appear to be all but set with only the seeding of teams remaining in doubt before the playoffs begin November 15.
A Charleston victory next week over Lamar would give the Tigers sole possession of second place in the conference and would secure the number two seed in the playoffs. In such case, the Tigers would likely host a home playoff game in week one of the state playoffs.
A loss to Lamar would give Lamar the two seed, and Charleston would fall to either third place or fourth place, depending on the outcome of Mansfield’s game and Greenland’s game. Charleston owns the tie breaker over Greenland, and Mansfield owns the tie breaker over Charleston.
It’s ironic to think back to the start of the season when Coach May said that it (the conference season and playoffs) may come down to which teams are healthy at the end of the year. Charleston’s season began back in August with a rash of injuries that affected the team for the entire first month of the season. Now, the team is healthy for the exception of a few players, and the team appears to be set for the playoffs.
Next Friday’s home game will be senior night for the Tigers, and what better way to send the seniors out than with a win over Lamar in their final home game. A win over Lamar would be huge for Charleston’s momentum going into the playoffs. It would also almost guarantee the Tigers that they would play a four seed at home.
On a very cold November night, the Charleston fans traveled to West Fork to support their Tigers. The community can be very proud of the large number of fans who made the trip and braved the cold to support their Tigers. This week, the seniors will be honored as they play their last regular season game at Alumni Stadium. I know the stands will be full to honor a great group of seniors who have shown their resiliency through out the year, battling injuries, staying together as a team, and now having made the playoffs. It is a great credit to the senior leadership on this team, and they all deserve a great crowd in attendance on Friday to watch them as they are individually recognized as well as playing Lamar for second place in the conference.
It will be another cold football night, so, bring your coat and come out to the stadium to honor the seniors and see a great football game!