The Charleston Tigers improved their record to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play with a 48-8 win over Hackett on Friday at Alumni Field. The win keeps the Tigers on top of the 3A-1 conference, one game ahead of the Cedarville Pirates and the Greenland Pirates. Charleston will play at Lincoln on Friday for a conference game with the Wolves in week eight of the high school football season.
The young Tigers have now won four games in a row since the start of conference play and are on track to possibly win the 3A-1 conference. Charleston head coach Ricky May has his young team playing well and could win a conference championship this year, as well as be a strong contender again for the next two years. Combine the Tigers roster with another talented nineth grade class that is playing well in junior high football, and Charleston promises to be a force for perhaps the next four years, as well.
In Friday’s game with the Hackett Hornets, Charleston held a 15-8 first quarter advantage until the Tigers broke the game open with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter. Charleston passed for over 300 yards against the Hornets while giving up just 119 yards passing on defense. The Tigers added another 128 yards on the ground and gave up just 68 yards rushing to Hackett. Turnovers continued to be an issue for Charleston as the Tigers threw for two interceptions in the contest. Neither team had a fumble in the game.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Scott threw 24 times and completed 19 for 312 yards for Charleston. Scott had four touchdown passes on the night along with two interceptions. Scott continues to develop rapidly at the quarterback position. He is an example of several talented sophomores who are on the roster and play significant minutes for the Tigers.
In a Sunday interview with Charleston coach Ricky May, he indicated that he was pleased with the Tigers performance on Friday, as well as their continued development throughout the season. “We started real fast. I have been talking to them all year about needing to start fast, start fast, start fast…and Friday night we received the opening kickoff and ran it back a little ways, and then first play of the game…touchdown. So, I ran down the sideline and told the offense, that’s what I mean by fast! So, they did well. Everybody played well. Offense, defense, special teams…everybody played well. They (his young team) are getting a lot better each week. But more than that, I think the confidence is growing in not only each individual but in each other. Our seniors and our sophomores are trusting each other a lot more and are developing a good bond. We’re just glad the program is where it is.”
Coach May commented on playing Hackett by saying, “Hackett is one of those programs that are well-coached, they are well-disciplined, and you can’t give any ground against them. Its a situation where those guys can come back and hurt you. At one point the score was 15-8 and they intercepted a pass and had a little bit of momentum. And they had a chance to dig into the lead right there, and our defense got a stop. We were later up, I think 22-8 and we held them and then threw a pick-six in the end zone. We were able to go up 36-8 at half. We came out in the second half, and man I tell you, my assistant coaches do a great job. Todd Reece, our special teams coach, and everything with special teams has been so much improved over last season. We pinned them deep all night; they started short of the 40 yard line all night. At halftime, he (Reece) came up to me and said I think we can kick it right down the middle and get it on an onside kick. I said ok and to keep that in mind. When we start the second half, let’s do it. So we opened the second half with an onside kick and our kicker ran down and got it and we were able to drive down and score. Our second team played well. The offense didn’t move the ball as well as we had hoped, but the defense played well. So, it was a good homecoming night.”
After Friday night’s games around the conference, the standings going into week eight of the season are:
West Fork 2-2
Charleston has head-to-head wins over both Cedarville and Greenland, and will now travel to Lincoln for another conference game that could have playoff seeding implications.
This Friday’s games around the 3A-1 conference are:
Charleston at Lincoln
Cedarville at Greenland
Hackett at West Fork
Lavaca at Mansfield
The marquee game for the week will be the contest between Cedarville and Greenland. Both teams are currently tied for second place in the conference, and one of them will get a loss this Friday, further separating the teams in potential playoff seedings. The difference between going to the state playoffs as a #2 seed versus being a #3 seed could be the difference between playing at home in the first round and playing on the road, several hours away.
Lincoln is just one game behind Charleston, but has also suffered from a COVID cancellation by a conference opponent, and thus has only two conference wins. Friday’s game with Charleston is important to the Wolves’ playoff aspirations and final seeding for the state playoffs. A Charleston win would separate the Tigers from everyone in the conference with the exception of the winner of the Cedarville / Greenland game who would still have only one conference loss so far.
Lincoln has a lot on the line when they host Charleston this Friday. Coach May told the Resident Press that the Wolves have “some really good skill guys offensively. They have played two different quarterbacks at different times and they are both big kids with big arms. They can definitely throw it. They can cause some damage in the air. They also have a good running back; he’s a senior. Their offensive line is really good and they have some big kids. Defensively, they play down hill really fast…they get after you pretty good.” The Wolves run the spread offense and defensively run the 3-4. Coach May continued, “they ran the ball pretty well against Mansfield; they’re pretty physical.’
A Charleston win gives the Tigers head-to-head victories over all of the top contenders in the conference. With two weeks remaining after the trip to Lincoln, the Tigers would be in firm command of the top seed from the 3A-1 as they begin the state playoffs. West Fork and Lavaca would be all that stands between Charleston and potentially hosting a first round state playoff game at Alumni Field. So, Friday’s game at Lincoln is an important match for both schools.
The weather is getting cooler, but the action is getting hotter as teams take the field over the final three weeks of the season and position themselves for the state playoffs. The Charleston Tigers are playing well with their young group of varsity players, and the sky is the limit for this latest edition of Charleston Football.
So, Charleston fans, bundle up, take some rain gear, and make the trip to Northwest Arkansas to support your Tigers! After this Friday night, Charleston could find themselves well in control of the 3A-1 conference.
Look to Resident Press on Sunday for a recap of the Tigers trip to Lincoln.