SILOAM SPRINGS -- Spenser Pippin has many jobs for the Siloam Springs football team.
Pippin, a 5-foot-10, 206-pound senior, is a starter on offense and able to play many different positions on that side of the ball.
He used to be a starter on defense and can certainly shift back over to the defensive side if needed.
Pippin also plays a huge role on special teams as the holder on field goals and extra points, the deep snapper on punts and just recently joined the kickoff and kickoff return coverage teams.
"I compare him to a Swiss Army Knife," said Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig. "He's got a lot of things that he can do for us."
Pippin began the season as a starter at outside linebacker on defense and playing some on offense at an H-Back/tight end position.
An injury forced him to move inside for the Harrison game but it also moved sophomore Camden Collins to the outside linebacker spot in Pippin's place.
Collins wound up flourishing at the linebacker spot so much that the coaches decided to take a look at Pippin seeing more time on offense.
The move has paid off for the Panthers (5-5), who travel to Searcy (8-2) tonight for the opening round of the Class 6A football playoffs.
Pippin is tied with Gage Weaver for the team lead with 26 receptions. Pippin's 263 receiving yards are third on the team behind Weaver's 364 and Primo Agbehi's 358.
"He'd do anything we asked him to do," Craig said. "As you go through and build a team and try and find a niche for everybody, I think we've found a pretty good spot for him. He's able to stay on the field for 95 to 100 percent of the offense. He rarely comes off and does a lot for us."
Pippin is the last in the line of the Pippin family to play a starring role at Siloam Springs.
Older brother Braden Pippin was a three-year starter for the football team, including the final two seasons at quarterback, earning all-state honors in 2011.
Older sister Mayse Pippin also was a three-year starter for the Lady Panthers basketball team and all-state selection her senior year when she helped lead the Lady Panthers to the 6A state finals.
"They just kind of paved the path for me, especially with Braden in football," Spenser Pippin said. "I always looked up to him."
Dwain Pippin, longtime assistant football coach at Siloam Springs, steers clear of the question of which of his kids was the most athletic.
"Naw, I probably better stay away from that," Dwain Pippin said with a sly grin.
"Yeah you know that won't be good," Spenser Pippin added. "Mayse on the basketball end, if she was a guy she probably could have played football. She was physical on the block."
There was no argument from the coach.
"You know all three of them have been different in their own ways," Dwain Pippin said. "What I admire about all of them, especially Spenser having watched him all these years, is I'm proud they've been so coachable. That means a lot. Most people may not completely understand that, but from a coaching standpoint, having a kid that is open to being coached is a big thing. It really is. That's the message I have heard from our whole staff over the years is that Spenser is very coachable and he'll do whatever and pays attention in practice and tries his best. That's just something that means a lot."
Another thing Dwain Pippin admires about his younger son is that he hasn't tried to be his older siblings.
"The thing that sticks out to me about Spenser is he is his own guy," Dwain Pippin said. "He's his own person. He admires his brother and sister and what they did. He's got his own personality. He always has, and it's unique to him. I never thought he has ever tried to be his brother. He just tried to do what he can do to be a great team player. I admire him, and I've told him this, I admire him for being his own person on the field and off the field."
Dwain Pippin has enjoyed watching his kids come through and play for the Panthers and Spenser Pippin is no different.
"It's exciting when I do get an opportunity to see a few snaps of offense," said Dwain Pippin, who coaches the Panthers' defensive line. "I'm cheering him on, but I'm a coach too. When he misses a block I kinda get on to him like I would anybody else, but I'll back away and let the other coaches do their thing."
Craig said it's not hard to see that Spenser Pippin is a coach's kid.
"He has a passion for the game," Craig said. "Obviously you can see that through his relationship with his father. They enjoy each other and it's special to have your son playing for you and it's just one of those things where he doesn't actually coach him on a day-to-day basis but he's around him. He gets to see him play every Friday night, so that's special as well."
Bulldogs hope to rest, repeat
Defending Class 6A state champion Greenwood earned a first-round bye heading into postseason play, but the Bulldogs are eager to attempt another lengthy run in the state playoffs.
After the team graduated many impact seniors a season ago, a new core of Bulldogs are ready to make an impact in the playoffs after finishing 9-1 and not losing a game in 6A-West Conference play.
"I think what has been fun with this group is over the years there has maybe been a mentality of we have already done this," Greenwood coach Rick Jones said. "These guys haven't. They were put down so much and so often from the outside with talk about how good last year's team was. They have taken it as a challenge. They want to show the naysayers."
This core of Bulldogs advanced the unbeaten conference streak to 31 consecutive games dating back to 2014 with a 40-0 victory against Lake Hamilton last week. It was the first shutout of the season for the Greenwood defense.
"I appreciate the way these guys come out and practice," Jones said. "The guys on defense get after it. We scream at them for going too hard at times. And they sometimes scream at their counterparts for not going hard enough. It's funny how that works. I love the way the defense plays."
Greenwood has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after earning the top seed from the 6A-West Conference. The Bulldogs will host the winner of the Siloam Springs-Searcy game in the second round.
"There is no doubt there are some good teams in the 6A," Jones said. "The thing is you don't know. We might be the fifth best team on the other side of the 6A because we don't do a lot of crossover games. All we have to do is be as good as we can be."
Despite many Bulldogs making a transition from role player to starter this season, the players have seen from the past what it takes to win a state championship.
"The big part of it is the mentality you approach the season with," Jones said. "To a lot of people, the football season is so long and they think if they lose well at least it is over. That's never been these kid's mentality since we got here. They want to make it a 14 week season."
Senior quarterback Peyton Holt has been a big part of the success this season for Greenwood transitioning from playing the wide receiver position a season ago.
He has completed 184 of 260 passes for 2,352 yards with 18 touchdowns and has just one interception. Holt also leads the team with 602 yards rushing with 15 touchdowns on 104 carries.
Treyton Dawson and Luke Leonard have been Holt's go-to targets. Dawson has 752 yards and six touchdowns on 49 catches, while Leonard has 703 yards and six touchdowns on 63 catches.
Logan Workman and Travis Cox each have a team-high 75 tackles to help lead the Bulldog defense that has allowed just 17 points per game.
-- Harold McIlvain • Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette
Preps Sports on 11/09/2018
Print Headline: CLASS 6A FOOTBALL Pippin like a Swiss Army knife