SPRINGDALE -- For a school record fourth time in 2017, Springdale Har-Ber kept its opponent off the scoreboard.
On a night its 31 seniors were honored before the game, Har-Ber (6-3, 3-3 7A-West) shutout Van Buren 34-0 to snap a three-game losing skid and essentially seal the 7A-West's No. 4 seed in the state playoffs while making a little history along the way.
Springdale Har-Ber 34, Van Buren 0
Har — Thomas 49 pass from Allen (Zizumbo kick), 10:48
Har — Allen 9 run (Zizumbo kick), 8:06
Har — FG Zizumbo 32
Har — FG Zizumbo 44
Har — Wittschen 2 run (Zizumbo kick), 7:16
Har — Copher 76 run (Zizumbo kick), 9:36
"Our focus right now is trying to get better each and every step," Har-Ber coach Chris Wood said. "We did that tonight. We did that last week, it just didn't show up in the win column.
"(The defense) did their assignments really well," he added. "They're working hard, and like I said, our kids are busting tail. We've had some unfortunate luck the last couple weeks and a lot of that is who we're playing. You've got to play clean. I thought our defense was good all night."
Har-Ber jumped out of the gate early and grabbed a 14-0 lead less than four minutes in behind a Grant Allen touchdown pass to senior Matt Thomas and Allen's nine-yard rushing score. Before the first quarter ended, though, the junior quarterback left the game with an injury to his throwing shoulder following miscommunication on a snap, and watched the second half in street clothes on the sideline.
"On offense, we had our moments and other times we're still a little bit sloppy, but, hey, we're heading up the mountain the right way," Wood said. "That's all you can ask for."
The injury gave way for backup quarterback Blaise Wittschen to gain valuable reps and score his first career touchdown. His two-yard rushing score in the third quarter provided Har-Ber more cushion and a 27-0 lead. Wittschen finished the night 10-of-15 passing for 82 yards, completing his final five passes. Kicker Jesus Zizumbo also nailed field goals of 32 and 44 yards.
Senior running back Payton Copher rushed for a season-high 145 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries in the win. Copher set the final score early in the fourth quarter on a 76-yard score. Friday marks the second time in his career he has run for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games (108 at Fayetteville in Week 8).
"We put so much effort into what we do it's nice to get a win," Copher said. "We're trying to spread the ball out like we did in the first five weeks and the holes are getting bigger. It's one of those deals, I've led this team for a long time, and I know those guys trust me and I trust them."
Connor Sikes, who tore his ACL in the preseason, returned to the field Friday. He finished with two catches for 34 yards. "Once he gets back into that running shape he's going to be real lethal," Copher said of Sikes.
Har-Ber closes out the regular season next week at Rogers Heritage.
Sports on 10/28/2017
Print Headline: 'Cats collect record 4th shutout on Senior Night