The Charleston Tigers traveled to Northwest Arkansas on Friday and defeated the Greenland Pirates 48-18 to open in conference play. The game sets the stage for Charleston (2-2, 1-0) to host Cedarville for the early lead in the 3A-1 conference standings. The winner of next Friday’s contest will be in the driver’s seat for both the conference championship and the top seed in the upcoming state playoffs. Cedarville (4-0,1-0) defeated Lavaca 46-14 last Friday and enters next week’s game as the favorite by Hooten’s Arkansas Football publication to win the 3A-1 conference. Charleston was predicted to finish second to Cedarville in the same publication.
The Charleston Tigers typically play a very tough 4A non-conference schedule every year in hopes of better preparing them for the conference schedule. This year, the Tigers went 1-2 against three of the top four teams in the 4A-4 conference, and now have won their opening conference game on the road against a very good program. Charleston head football coach Ricky May seems to have his young Tigers in great position to compete this year for a conference championship. Anything the Tigers do this year with respect to a championship and a playoff run is icing on the cake for a program that is young and will have a lot of talent and numbers returning next year. Tiger fans have a lot to be excited about this year and in future years.
In recapping Friday’s game at Greenland, Coach May said, “It was a big win, we needed that one. We received the opening kickoff and fumbled on the second play of the game on our own thirty. But the defense held up and we got the ball back. We traded touchdowns and then we didn’t field a punt on our thirty and it rolled down all the way to our four. So, pinned deep, we ended up turning the ball over deep in our own territory. They scored a couple of plays later. We then drove down and scored and kicked the extra point. In second half, they got the ball first and we held them. After that, we may have scored on every drive in the second half. So, the offense played pretty good. Defensively, we gave up a couple of big plays being out of position a little bit. But, in the second half, we kind of settled down a little bit on defense too.”
Around the conference, Charleston positioned themselves in the top half of the standings by virtue of their win over Greenland. Greenland, forecasted by many to finish third behind Charleston, now finds themselves having to play leap frog over at least four other teams in the division. Results of games played in the conference were:
Charleston defeated Greenland 48-18
Cedarville defeated Lavaca, 46-16
West Fork defeated Mansfield, 46-14
Hackett and Lincoln did not play due to COVID reasons.
The standings in the conference after last Friday’s action are:
West Fork 1-0
*Teams have not played a conference game due to COVID reasons.
The winner of Friday night’s game at Alumni Field will undoubtedly be the favorite to finish the regular season as the conference champion and the top seed from the conference in the state playoffs. But as the 2020 season has been so far, nothing is assured, and there will no doubt be more unexpected variables that could surface before the end of the season in November. One such variable is that there are now two teams in the conference that will finish with fewer conference games played than the rest of the conference due to COVID positivity within programs. The pandemic could cause the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) to make modifications in this year’s state playoff eligibility that no one has seen in many years. In fact, to make allowances for teams not having equal numbers of conference games and chances to compete for the playoffs, it is very possible that all teams in the conference may end up being eligible for what could be an expanded Class 3A state playoff bracket. Resident Press is researching this possibility and will publish a story later in the week on how possibly every team in the 3A-1 conference could be eligible for the playoffs.
But, first things first. The Cedarville Pirates and their vaunted rushing attack will visit Charleston in what should be one whale of a football game. The Tigers will have to be completely focused on the Pirates, particularly when everyone knows how well they can run the football. But this year, the Pirates passing attack has improved making Cedarville especially dangerous as a more balanced offensive team.
According to Max Preps, Cedarville averages 94.5 yards per game passing. Their potent rushing attack is averaging 349.8 yards per game. The Pirates have scored 24 touchdowns; of which, four were through the air, and 20 were rushing touchdowns.
The Pirates’ Daryl Kattich, a junior running back, has rushed 67 times for 812 yards already this season. He averages 12 yards per rush, and is averaging 203 yards per game. His longest run from scrimmage is 99 yards.
Cedarville quarterback Cody Dickens, also a junior, has completed 18 of 29 passes on the season for 378 yards. He has a 62% completion percentage and has averaged 21 yards per pass. Dickens is average 94 yards passing per game and has thrown for four touchdowns.
Cedarville’s non-conference strength of schedule has not been as tough as Charleston’s, but the Pirates were impressive in their three non-conference wins. The Pirates defeated Berryville 44-6, Mountainburg 34-6 and Green Forest 52-20. In last week’s opening of the conference schedule, Cedarville defeated Lavaca 46-14.
We will know a lot more about the playoff fate of all the teams in the 3A-1 conference after Friday night. Both Charleston and Cedarville could put themselves in great position to possibly win the conference with a victory Friday night. Resident Press will have more on the developing story of how the COVID pandemic may affect every team’s playoff futures in a later edition this week.
So, Tiger fans, enjoy what should be a great high school football game on a cool and crisp night at Alumni Field. And don’t forget to look for a recap on this big game in Sunday’s edition of the Resident Press!
Stay with RP for the most complete coverage of Charleston football!