For the first time, Maumelle plays in the state quarterfinals after a 34-13 victory over Lonoke last week. The Hornets travel Friday to Valley View and face another team who is making its first quarterfinal appearance.
Losing its last regular season contest to Booneville, Maumelle’s 4A state playoff journey started by defeating defending champion Stuttgart, 31-10, followed by last week’s triumph over Lonoke. Valley View (11-1) also lost it last regular-season contest to Gosnell but has since disposed of 1-4A opponents Gravette, 35-7, and Prairie Grove, 14-12, last week.
"It’s hard to tell about Valley View because they look like a spread," Maumelle Coach Mike Buchan said. "They have a real good running back who plays quarterback half the time. He is one of the better ones we’ve seen."
After Valley View senior quarterback Noah Johns suffered a leg injury during week nine, senior Jaeger Sullins moved from tailback to quarterback. Noah did play against Prairie Grove. With 1,573 yards on 176 attempts, Sullins tallied 700 of those yards in the last four weeks. During that span, he also has 10 touchdowns and completed 28-of-44 passes for 327 yards and three scores.
"They have a lot of size we aren’t used to seeing," Buchan said. "Our offense keeps improving and is playing great. The defense needs to stop over pursuing and play team defense."
It was the defense that helped the Hornets (10-2) in their triumph over Lonoke. DaRayun Canada returned an interception for 84 yards for Maumelle’s second score, and linebacker Michael Cole ran a pickoff for 19 yards for the Hornets’ final touchdown. With Hunter Cockrell’s PATs, the defense scored more points than Lonoke.
"It was a very muddy, cold rainy day," Buchan said. "But, we played well."
Both Maumelle and Lonoke ran the ball the majority of the time. Hornet quarterback Tyshun Robinson only threw two passes, and both receptions led to touchdowns. Maumelle’s first score was an 81-yard connection from Robinson to JB Minix. The first half scoring ended on Robinson’s 18-yard completion to Braylon Waits which led to a 21-7 halftime margin.
The Hornets totaled 142 yards on 34 totes with Jessie Hopkins tallying 50 on 12 attempts. The lone rushing touchdown was on Waits’ 13-yard run. Robinson finished with 44 yards on 12 carries, and Minix added 29 yards on four tries.
Buchan says the players are excited and positive for Friday’s game and hopes the weather doesn’t keep the Hornets from getting practice time.