File photo by Kevin Nagle
Editor’s note: Tonight’s Bryant-Lake Hamilton game will be broadcast at 93.7 FM and 690 AM Fox Sports Arkansas with pre-game at 6:30 p.m., and live streamed by Fidelity Local 6 here
When the Bryant Hornets football team came in for practice on Monday following their 38-37 overtime triumph over defending Class 7A State champion Fayetteville, head coach Buck James recounted, they were “pretty full of themselves. We had to humble them a little bit.”
Mostly what that meant was showing them the video of the game, primarily the first half and early third quarter when they fell behind 24-10.
“We still haven’t played a complete game,” James noted later in the week. “I hope we see that on Friday.”
Ordinarily, Friday’s game against the Lake Hamilton Wolves might be considered one of those “trap games.” It would be easy for the players to overlook the Wolves considering the game falls between last week’s thrilling victory and the fact that 7A-Central Conference play begins next Friday. The Hornets travel to Fort Smith Northside with the memory of the 29-0 humbling the Grizzlies handed to them in Bryant last year.
It helps that the Lake Hamilton game is the first at home for the Hornets. That should help get the juices flowing. No doubt, they’ll be reminded of the fact that the Wolves blew out to a 21-0 lead in 2016, scoring on their first three possessions and that the Hornets had to battle back to escape with a 24-21 win.
Then there’s the fact that, this season, Lake Hamilton, under the guidance of their third coach in as many years Tommy Gilleran, have outscored their first two opponents 91-34. Gilleran, a Lake Hamilton alum, returns after significant success as the head coach at Fountain Lake where he was 106-60-1 over 16 seasons.
If that’s not enough, James asserted, “We’ve got a chance here for an undefeated season.”
Of course, so does Lake Hamilton at this point.
The Hornets came through the Fayetteville game pretty healthy (unlike the Bulldogs, who got beat up, particularly on defense). Running back LaTavion Scott who went out last week in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury was held out of contact this week with a sprain.
The game was a breakout for junior wide receiver Randy Thomas, who caught a team-high five passes for 90 yards and two second-half touchdowns from quarterback Ren Hefley including a catch and run that tied the game with just over two minutes left to play.
The Hornets’ offensive line played well clearing the way for 436 yards of offense against the defending champs.
There were three turnovers for Bryant, a big reason the Bulldogs managed to build their 14-point advantage.
Meanwhile, on defense, the Hornets shut down the Fayetteville running game, limiting the Bulldogs to less than 40 yards. Still, James hopes to get more consistent play from his defensive ends.
Lake Hamilton will deploy in a wing-T that features fullback dives, power sweeps, options and traps combined with play-action passing. Senior Utah Aitken is the starting quarterback. Randall Nichols and Jacob Nichols have been starting at the running backs with Keaton Hixon on the wing. Nick Hammock is their big-play receiver. With a big offensive line, they’re more than willing to grind it out.
Defensively, they’ll base in a 4-3 and walk a linebacker out against the spread. Randall Nichols and C.J. Reynolds man the middle at linebacker. Jacob Nichols plays safety where the Wolves appear to like cover-two.