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story.lead_photo.caption Fayetteville running back Luke Rapert (above) had 208 carries for 1,079 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and is one of 14 starters returning this season for the Bulldogs. Sharing the load at running back will be Javontae Smith, who had 28 carries for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. - Photo by Jason Ivester

Fayetteville doesn't have to look far for motivation.

All the Bulldogs have to do is go back to the final minute of last season's Class 7A state championship game, when Bentonville scored with 26 seconds left to defeat Fayetteville 24-21 for its second consecutive state title at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

CLASS 7A SUPER SIX

TEAM;2014;CONFERENCE

1. Fayetteville;11-3;7A-West

2. Bentonville;9-4;7A-West

3. Fort Smith Northside;9-3;7A-West

4. North Little Rock;10-2;7A/6A-East

5. Fort Smith Southside;9-3;7A-West

6. Conway;10-1;7A/6A-Central

At a glance

FAYETTEVILLE

COACH Daryl Patton

CONFERENCE 7A-West

2014 RECORD 11-3 (lost in Class 7A state championship)

KEY RETURNERS QB Taylor Powell, 6-2, 200, Jr.; RB Luke Rapert, 5-9, 170, Sr.; RB Javontae Smith, 5-9, 200, Sr.; OL Noah Johnson, 6-3, 320, Sr.; DB Kennedy Wade, 6-3, 180, Sr.

SCHEDULE

DATE;OPPONENT

Sept. 4;Lawton Eisenhower (Okla.)

Sept. 11;at North Little Rock

Sept. 18;Muskogee (Okla.)

Sept. 25;at FS Northside*

Oct. 2;FS Southside*

Oct. 9;at Springdale*

Oct. 16;at Springdale Har-Ber*

Oct. 23;Rogers Heritage*

Oct. 30;at Rogers*

Nov. 6;Bentonville*

*7A-West game

"The kids had a bitter taste in their mouth after last season," Fayetteville Coach Daryl Patton said. "The season is here. They're ready to go."

Fayetteville will open the 2015 high school football season ranked No. 1 in Class 7A by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, but Patton isn't going to allow his players to get too excited.

"It really doesn't matter," he said. "It's a nice feather in your hat, but you have to go prove it on the field."

Junior quarterback Taylor Powell will have control of the Bulldogs offense after splitting time with Jack Lindsey at the beginning of last season.

Powell, 6-2, 200 pounds, became the starter in Week 4 and never looked back, completing 172 of 271 passes for 2,513 yards with 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

"He's a very level-headed kid," Patton said of Powell, who has been offered a scholarship by Arkansas State. "He's very goal-driven. He's very focused."

Fayetteville has what Patton calls a two-headed monster in the backfield in seniors Luke Rapert and Javontae Smith. Rapert, 5-9, 170, had 208 carries for 1,079 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and is one of 14 starters returning. Smith, 5-9, 200, had 28 carries for 174 yards and 3 touchdowns last season.

Junior Terrance Rock moved from running back to wide receiver in the offseason. Rock ran for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns and had 208 yards and another touchdown receiving.

Rock had six catches Monday night in a scrimmage against Greenwood.

"We want to get the ball in his hands," Patton said. "He's a threat every time he touches it."

Senior Tyson Morris is the Bulldogs' top receiver after catching 20 passes for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. Joining Morris and Rock are seniors Garland Allison, 6-3, 185, and Bruce Armstrong, 5-6, 150. Allison scored five touchdowns and Armstrong added two scores in an offense that also featured eventual University of Arkansas signees Dre Greenlaw and C.J. O'Grady.

Senior Noah Johnson leads an offensive line that may be the best in Patton's 13-year tenure at Fayetteville. Johnson, 6-3, 320, will move from guard to center. He has received offers from Army, Appalachian State and Cornell.

Classmate Nick Chickillo, 6-8, 280, returns at right tackle. Junior left guard Spencer Stone, 6-3, 290, is Fayetteville's nastiest offensive lineman, Patton said, while Noah Ewing, 6-3, 205, will start at left tackle and junior Ty Clary, 6-3, 265, will handle right guard.

Kennedy Wade, 6-3, 180, will lead Fayetteville's defense. The three-year starter intercepted four passes last year and is expected to be the Bulldogs' leader in the secondary with the graduation of Greenlaw.

Senior defensive end Eli Hale and junior defensive tackle Akial Byers anchor the Bulldogs' defensive line. Hale, 6-5, 240, has received offers from California, Air Force and Army. Mississippi State has offered Byars, 6-4, 250.

Junior Andrew Ellis, 6-0, 185, leads Fayetteville's linebacking corps. He is the brother of Arkansas linebacker Brooks Ellis.

Fayetteville has played in the Class 7A state championship game four of the past five seasons, winning it all in 2011 and 2012 even though it hasn't won a 7A-West title since 2003.

As far as Patton is concerned, the only title that matters is the state title.

"Our goal is not to go undefeated. Our goal is not to win the conference," Patton said. "Our goal is to be in Little Rock on December 5 and win a title."

Sports on 08/30/2015

Print Headline: Patton: It’s title or bust

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