ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Wynne, Little Rock Christian not a typical pairing

Posted: November 10, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Little Rock Christian quarterback Jackson Bowersock (left) leaps away from Pulaski Academy defender Wesley Wise during an Oct. 6 game at Joe B. Hatcher Stadium in Little Rock. Bowersock and the Warriors will host Wynne in a first-round playoff matchup at 7 tonight.

Little Rock Christian Coach Eric Cohu considers Wynne a No. 1 seed.

But the Yellowjackets, who finished in a three-way tie for first place in the 5A-East Conference at 6-1 with Nettleton and Batesville, are the league's No. 3 seed and will have to travel to Little Rock Christian -- the 5A-Central's No. 2 seed -- tonight in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Today’s game

CLASS 5A FIRST ROUND

Wynne at LR Christian

WHEN 7 p.m.

WHERE Warrior Field, Little Rock

RECORDS Wynne 9-1 (No. 3 5A-East), Little Rock Christian 9-1 (No. 2 5A-Central)

COACHES Wynne: Van Paschal; Little Rock Christian: Eric Cohu

Both Wynne and Little Rock Christian finished 9-1 overall and 6-1 in their conferences. Wynne's lone loss was at Batesville 39-21 on Oct. 13, while Christian's loss was 86-56 at Pulaski Academy on Oct. 6.

"I've been in situations where two strong conferences have matched up before," Cohu said. "I've had some tough first-round games.

"When you get in the playoffs, it really is a lot of times where the atmosphere, the urgency, the competitive nature and spirit make it a new season. The team that prepares the most and the team that's the hungriest comes out on top."

The winner will face Morrilton or Watson Chapel in the second round Nov. 17.

Wynne, led by former Monticello and Barton coach Van Paschal, enters the Class 5A playoffs on a three-game winning streak, including a 27-0 victory over previously undefeated Nettleton on Nov. 3. Senior running back Ta'von Hicks, who has rushed for 1,478 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, had 174 yards and 1 touchdown against the Raiders.

The Yellowjackets average 285 yards rushing per game, with Hicks and senior quarterback Luke Chapman (454 yards, 4 touchdowns) leading the way.

Cohu said the Yellowjackets' running attack is a tough matchup for the Warriors.

"They're very good at what they do," Cohu said. "They run the option well. It's very important to play a disciplined football game. If you make one mistake, they'll make you pay for it."

The Warriors' offense averages 46.4 points per game and is led by senior quarterback Jackson Bowersock (2,694 yards, 38 touchdowns). If they are to achieve what they've done during the first 10 games of the season, Cohu believes the defense will have something to do with it.

"It's extremely important for our defense to get some stops, to develop an identity where you're not just scoring on every drive," Cohu said. "We have to make them earn everything."

Little Rock Christian is one of four teams left from the 5A-Central along with Pulaski Academy, Little Rock McClellan and Sylvan Hills. Cohu said playing in the Central has helped the Warriors.

"There's no doubt that having such a strong conference, week in and week out, with some powerhouse teams and playing difficult nonconference teams helped us mature and learn how to prepare, week in and week out," Cohu said.

The Warriors have won four in a row since the Pulaski Academy loss. Cohu has been pleased with his team's resiliency, which began with a 55-26 victory over Little Rock Parkview on Oct. 13.

"You have a loss, you have to turn the page and bounce back and get ready for the next game," Cohu said. "Our guys responded with that Parkview game."

Tonight's game between the Yellowjackets and Warriors is the only playoff matchup in the first round that features two teams with one loss apiece. It's a game Cohu and his program have looked forward to all week.

"The players are excited," Cohu said. "The fans will get up for this game. Everybody understands how good and sound of an opponent we've got coming into Little Rock."

Little Rock Christian head Coach Eric Cohu is preparing his team for tonight’s matchup against the Wynne Yellowjackets, who finished in a three-way ti...

Sports on 11/10/2017