Photographs by Spencer Tirey
Fayetteville quarterback Darius Bowers throws a pass Friday during the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 tournament at Harmon Field on the campus of Fayetteville High School.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE -- Fayetteville's first snap of 7-on-7 football this summer couldn't have been scripted better.
The second play from scrimmage was more of the same.
Quarterback Darius Bowers, taking over as leader of the Purple'Dogs offense under new coach Billy Dawson, led Fayetteville to two touchdowns on its opening two plays.
"Yeah, it was a good start. I don't know how that happened," Dawson said grinning. "We'll take it. We had two plays, two touchdowns. That was nice."
Bowers hit Kris Mulinga and Cody Gray in stride, each open over the middle of the field, catapulting Fayetteville to a tournament-opening 24-21 win against Bentonville West. Dawson likes what he's seen from Bowers, who's following in the footsteps of the state's career passing touchdown leader, Taylor Powell, who is now at Missouri.
"He's had a good spring," Dawson said of Bowers. "He's figuring out what we're trying to do. He's going to be a good player, and he got his feet wet a little last year.
"We're really young (at receiver). Other than (Mulinga and Gray) we're brand new," Dawson said. "Everything you're seeing is brand new."
Fayetteville finished pool play on Friday with a 6-1-1 record.
Jackson shining for Bentonville West
Wolverines coach Bryan Pratt has led a number of talented players in his coaching career, some who have panned out at the highest level. And he has no reservations saying Jadon Jackson could be his next superstar.
Jackson scored two touchdowns in West's 46-12 thumping of Giltner, Neb., at Harmon Field, wowing teammates as well as opposing players with quickness and athleticism.
"I coached in Texas at South Grand Prairie in the toughest district down there and had tons of guys that went and played in college and the NFL, and he's as good as any of them," Pratt said. "His burst is unreal. The thing on him is he's pretty smart. He knows where everybody is supposed to go and understands the whole scheme."
Jackson moved to Northwest Arkansas from York, Penn., two years ago to escape the violence surrounding him. Since arriving, he's burst onto the scene and made a name for himself in the Natural State.
"I just came to get away from that," Jackson said. "People I know were getting arrested and doing things they shouldn't be doing. ... (Today) was really fun. We're just going out and having fun and playing as a team."
Pratt says the rising junior will visit Alabama on Sunday.
"He's starting to understand taking some of these trips to some of these places and seeing the facilities that he's got a chance to change his life if he does what he's supposed to," Pratt said. "It's been fun watching him grow."
Wise provides playmaking in Springdale secondary
Opposing quarterbacks couldn't get Kapone. Kapone got the opposing quarterbacks, though ... three times.
Rising senior defensive back Kapone Wise stood out for Springdale High in the afternoon session at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium. Wise began his afternoon by intercepting Rogers Heritage's Trey Kitterman, sparking a 41-12 rout of the War Eagles. He then followed it up by picking off a pass against Owasso, Okla., and Gibson (Ind.) Southern in consecutive games.
"He's really confident and playing really confident," Springdale coach Zak Clark said. "He's gotten a lot better; he's going to be the guy (in the secondary).
"I'm happy with him right now. His hands have gotten better, and he's gotten so much better just with his discipline and his eyes. He's way more consistent than he has been, and he competes really hard."
Clark believes Wise has a chance to be a playmaker in the Red'Dogs' defensive backfield this fall. After an up-and-down morning session Friday, Wise's play provided Springdale a boost throughout the afternoon.
"It gave us something, like, 'Yeah, we've got faith, keep pushing,'" Wise said. "It gave (the offense) another chance to drive the ball and just go. I know I've got a lot of work to do, though."
Alma nearly completes comeback vs. Gibson Southern
After falling behind 16-0 to Gibson Southern early in the afternoon session at Springdale High, coach Doug Loughridge's Airedales nearly secured the comeback of the day.
Alma, who returns only one offensive starter from 2016, knotted the score at 23, then again at 29 with less than five seconds to play. Inside the 5-yard line, needing one final score to win, an Alma receiver was upended by a defender in the end zone, but drew no penalty flag. The game ended in a 29-29 tie.
Another good turnout for event
Shiloh Christian athletic director and football coach Jeff Conaway said the tournament continues to thrive, thanks to the efforts of volunteers and sponsors that make hosting the event possible.
"The competition is great," Conaway said Friday afternoon in Champions Stadium. "The players are enjoying it, the coaches seem to be enjoying most of it and we're having a good time."
Conaway said organization and a team of supporters are the key to hosting a tournament this large every year.
"Without them there would not be a great tournament," he said. "The hospitality we have here, the food we get to eat, the drinks ... all the stuff you take for granted is what makes this tournament so special."
Loyd likes what he sees for Mounties
Rogers High will have a number of fresh-faced sophomores stepping into the Friday night spotlight this fall, including coach Mike Loyd's son, Hunter. Hunter Loyd was directing the Mounties' attack on Friday at quarterback.
"We're getting better and that's what we came out here to do," Mike Loyd said. "We're a young team. We have a jayvee team playing and our varsity has a bunch of sophomores out here as well, so we're just trying to get good, positive reps and try to improve each game."
Dignitaries on display
Perched high atop the grandstand Friday afternoon was the coach of a college football team some have penciled in as a potential BCS Championship Game contender.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy was in Champions Stadium to watch his son, Gunnar, quarterback the Stillwater High School team. Gunnar is a left-handed sophomore with a rifle arm.
Also in attendance Friday was former Bentonville High coach Barry Lunney Sr., who led the Tigers to multiple state titles before retiring after the 2014 season.
Sports on 07/15/2017
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