Morrilton lost 16 starters from its 2016 Class 5A playoff team.
But the Devil Dogs, behind their two-quarterback system, have started 2-0 with victories over defending Class 6A state champion Russellville and Little Rock Fair.
"We're a pretty young team breaking in a lot of new starters, especially skill-position wise," Morrilton Coach Cody McNabb said. "But we've played two quarterbacks who are very solid."
Sophomore Jacolby Criswell and junior Dylan White have stepped in at quarterback for Caleb Canady, who exhausted his eligibility after last season.
Criswell has completed 14 of 21 passes for 180 yards with 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions, and he's scored 1 rushing touchdown. White has 3 touchdown passes and zero interceptions and is 9-of-15 passing for 105 yards.
McNabb said Criswell is more of a dual-threat quarterback, but White is a pocket passer.
"We knew we had two really, really talented kids at that position," McNabb said. "We've needed them both so far. I'm pleased with the way they're both playing and handling the situation."
The Devil Dogs will continue using Criswell and White at the position.
"As long as they're both playing well, they'll keep playing," McNabb said. "If one of them gives us a better chance to win, that guy will play more. That's kind of the way we're looking at it right now.
"We've had years when there's a senior playing, where a sophomore is being groomed to be the starter. But they're both talented. We'd be stupid not to use both of them."
Morrilton travels to Searcy (2-0) on Friday. Searcy, in Class 6A, is led by senior quarterback Mason Schucker, who has completed 35 of 54 passes for 651 yards with 13 touchdowns and 1 interception.
"They're loaded," McNabb said. "Schucker is very accurate. This is as good of a Searcy team as we've played.
"We know the competition we'll be going up against," said McNabb, whose No. 4 team in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Class 5A rankings faces No. 3 in Class 6A. "They're a really good 6A team. I want to see us play with intensity."
Earney runs wild
Hunter Earney was not going to let the De Queen Leopards lose for the sixth consecutive season to the Nashville Scrappers.
The senior running back rushed for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns on 27 carries and finished with 421 all-purpose yards and 5 touchdowns in De Queen's 49-42 victory Friday over the defending 7-4A Conference champion.
Earney had touchdown runs of 67 yards in the first quarter, 39 yards in the second quarter, 44 yards in the third quarter and 10 yards in the fourth quarter. He also had a 40-yard interception return in the second quarter en route to De Queen's 35-28 halftime lead.
"It was phenomenal," De Queen Coach Stephen Sloan said. "The offensive line was opening up holes. He was all over the field. He made the plays when they were there."
Sloan, in his first year as the Leopards' coach, moved Earney (344 yards and 4 touchdowns on 39 carries this season) from wide receiver to running back before the season because of an offensive scheme switch from the Pistol to a pro-set.
"We wanted to get him more touches," Sloan said. "He can make moves in the field. He's an exceptional open-field runner. He can make guys miss. He steps up at game time."
De Queen (1-1) defeated Nashville for the first time since 2011.
"It was a shot in the arm for the kids and the community," Sloan said. "It gave the kids a lot of confidence going forward that they can have some success."
The Leopards travel to Poteau, Okla., on Friday.
Warriors ace 4A tests
Little Rock Christian, which competes in the 5A-Central, defeated two of the state's marquee Class 4A programs to open the season.
The Warriors defeated defending Class 4A state champion Warren 43-28 on Aug. 29 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, then won at 2016 Class 4A semifinalist Shiloh Christian 40-20 on Friday.
Little Rock Christian outgained Shiloh Christian 478-217, including 281 rushing yards.
"They're two outstanding teams. Two different styles," Little Rock Christian Coach Eric Cohu said of Warren and Shiloh Christian. "We adjusted each week.
"Now it's 5A football from here on out."
The Class 5A schedule begins Friday for the Warriors in their home opener against Harrison (2-0). Harrison defeated Class 6A teams Mountain Home 28-7 and Siloam Springs 48-12.
"It makes for an outstanding matchup," Cohu said. "They can do a lot of different things. They've defeated two 6A teams. They're a good football team."
Cohu said the Warriors' defense has to develop an identity. Holding Warren and Shiloh Christian, two schools with high-powered offenses, under 30 points helps.
"Our defense is improving," Cohu said. "They have definitely made some statements."
Senior running back Ladarius Burnes sprained his ankle late in the first half against Shiloh Christian. Cohu said Burnes' status for Friday's game is unknown.
Burnes had two touchdowns before leaving with the injury. In his place, sophomore Kendel Givens finished with 124 yards and 3 touchdowns on 10 carries.
Bauxite's 13-game losing streak is over.
The Miners defeated Glen Rose 23-22 on Friday with junior quarterback Seth McDowell's 1-yard touchdown run for their first victory since Oct. 23, 2015, against Waldron.
It was Daryl Patton's first victory at Bauxite since taking over the Class 4A school in May 2016. Bauxite went 0-10 last season, playing 16 sophomores in one of the toughest conferences in the state, the 7-4A.
"It's paying off now," Patton said. "It was a big win last week. We didn't play great, but we found a way to win."
McDowell moved from running back to quarterback in the Miners' first year in the Dead-T offense. Patton ran the Spread at Fayetteville from 2003-2015 and at Bauxite last season, but went to the Dead-T because of his program's personnel. He got advice about the offense during the offseason from Cabot Coach Mike Malham, who has won 292 career games since 1981 with the Panthers.
"Like I told our superintendent [Matt Donaghy], there's nobody who wants to throw the ball more than myself," said Patton, who won four Class 7A state championships at Fayetteville. "I love to throw it. But I love to win even more. This gives us a chance to compete and win some ballgames."
Bauxite (1-1) is at Dumas on Friday.
New field name, turf
Rison's Wildcat Field will be renamed George Walker Field of Champions during a pregame ceremony before the Wildcats' Sept. 22 game against Bearden.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by the game, which is set for 7 p.m.
Walker, 82, was a part of Rison's first state championship team in 1950 as a sophomore and graduated in 1953.
After his high school career, Walker played quarterback at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and was one of Coach Bowden Wyatt's "25 Little Pigs" who won the Southwest Conference championship in 1954. Walker, who lives in Pine Bluff, worked at Simmons Bank for 36 years before retiring in 1999.
Walker and his teammates from the 1950 state championship team will serve as honorary captains for the Bearden game.
It also will be Rison's first game with its new artificial turf surface. The turf is part of Rison's general improvement project at Wildcat Field, which opened in 1937.
Tigers back at home
Little Rock Central will play its first game at Quigley-Cox Stadium this season Friday against West Memphis.
A project to renovate the stadium’s restrooms and concession stands finished this week, Little Rock School District Athletic Director John Daniels said.
The Tigers’ season opener against Rogers Heritage on Sept. 1 had to be moved to Little Rock Christian’s Warrior Field because the project was ongoing. There is also a new artificial turf surface at Quigley-Cox that was installed in August.
Sports on 09/14/2017
Print Headline: Two QBs works for Morrilton