As the Maumelle Hornets prepare for their last regular season football game, situations are much different than last year.
Last year, the Hornets (8-1, 6-0) won their first four conference games then suffered losses in the last three. They still made the playoffs and lost 55-20 at Nashville in the first round. After losing last year to Pottsville, 33-0, they defeated the Apaches 29-19 this year. A 20-15 triumph over Dardanelle last Friday avenged a 19-14 loss last year. Friday, Maumelle faces undefeated Booneville for the conference championship and would like to avenge a 35-16 loss last year.
"Our goal is to win, but I’m pretty sure we haven’t played anyone as good as Booneville," Maumelle Coach Mike Buchan said. "The guys are excited about playing for a conference championship but are playing it cool. They keep saying coach we got this. I said go watch the film and see what you think. They still said oh, yeah, we got this."
Maumelle faces a Booneville team that likes to run, and Buchan says the Bearcats run everywhere including inside and outside. He added they throw the ball just enough to keep the defense honest. Booneville junior fullback Bryson May has accumulated 1,067 yards and 14 scores so far this season. Senior QB Cody Harrell has 582 yards on 56 carries and eight touchdowns and has also completed 20 of 34 passes for five touchdowns and 265 yards. Junior halfback Matt Berry has totaled 385 yards and seven scores.
"They run the linebackers at you and make you do things quickly and make mistakes," Buchan said. "The big difference in Booneville is it has tradition."
Last week against Dardanelle, the Hornets had to overcome a short-lived 9-6 deficit. After the Sand Lizards took the small lead with 5:38 left in the third quarter, Maumelle answered 1:32 later on Tyshun Robinson’s three-yard run. The Hornets took the lead for good with 2:54 left in the game on J.B. Minix’s six-yard scamper. Robinson ran into the end zone for the two-point conversion.
"Our offense started off hot, but then didn’t do well," Buchan said. "Dardanelle played well, and we played like we always do when we have a day off. We were flat, but that can also be expected after a big emotional win over Pottsville."
The Hornets accumulated 172 rushing yards with Robinson leading all-rushers with 124 on 23 attempts. Corry Cullins added 27 yards on eight totes. Robinson passed for 128 yards on 7-of-15 attempts with two interceptions. Minix had three catches for 64 yards, and Braylon Waits caught three passes for 58 yards and also recorded a three-yard rushing touchdown.