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Mills' chances of making the state football playoffs for the first time since 2013 came to an end off the field Wednesday.

The Comets played an ineligible player and have forfeited their four victories this season, including three 2-4A Conference victories.

Conway brothers players of week

Conway’s Shane and Manny Smith are this week’s co-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps player of the week.

The Smith brothers helped Conway come back from a 31-14 deficit to defeat Little Rock Catholic 38-31 on Friday at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Shane, a senior wide receiver, caught 8 passes for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Manny, a sophomore running back, rushed for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries.

Shane Smith leads the Wampus Cats with 616 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Manny Smith has a team-high 609 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns.

Shane and Manny Smith will be honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club’s meeting Nov. 18 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Rock instead of Monday because of the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame ceremony at the club. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey is the guest speaker Nov. 18.

Conway (7-2, 5-1) hosts Bryant (9-0, 6-0) for the 7A-Central Conference championship Friday.

— Jeremy Muck

Mills self-reported the violation to the Arkansas Activities Association, which announced the forfeits in a news release Wednesday.

[HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Scores, photos, stories, rankings + more »]

The four victories that will be forfeited include a nonconference victory against Jacksonville on Sept. 6, and three 2-4A victories against Central Arkansas Christian (Oct. 4), Lonoke (Oct. 18) and Stuttgart (Oct. 25).

Led by first-year Coach Cortez Lee, Mills -- which was 4-5 overall and 3-3 in the 2-4A entering this week -- is now 0-9 overall and 0-6 in the conference. The Little Rock school also will be placed on warning by the AAA for one year.

Mills Principal Duane Clayton did not comment on the eligibility ruling, but said the Comets players were disappointed with Wednesday's news.

"They've been through some tough years," Clayton said. "They know what they've done on and off the field. They're not happy, but they're handling it well."

Lee did not offer comment to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, citing instructions given to him by the administrations at Mills and the Pulaski County Special School District. Alesia Smith, the deputy superintendent for the Pulaski County Special School District, did not return a phone call from the Democrat-Gazette on Wednesday.

Jessica Duff, a spokeswoman for the Pulaski County Special School District, said Wednesday in an email that the district is discussing the ineligibility ruling with the AAA, and the district would not offer further comment until the matter is resolved.

Mills is the third school this season to forfeit at least one conference game. Spring Hill forfeited its final four games of the season because of low numbers, and Fouke forfeited its Sept. 27 game at Prescott after being involved in a fight against Glen Rose on Sept. 20, which resulted in 26 players being suspended.

With Mills' forfeited victories, the 2-4A playoff teams are set. They will be Riverview, Southside Batesville, Central Arkansas Christian, Lonoke and Heber Springs. The seeds will not be finalized until after Friday's games.


Loose with ball

Ball security has been an issue for North Little Rock as of late.

Over their past four games, the Charging Wildcats have turned the ball over 13 times, including five times in a 35-21 loss Friday at Bryant.

North Little Rock threw three interceptions, with Damon Bell tossing two and Kareame Cotton the other. The Charging Wildcats also fumbled twice.

Bell's interception thrown to Bryant's Austin Schroeder allowed the Hornets to break a 21-21 tie after Austin Ledbetter threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Schrader that made it 28-21 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Brandon Thomas fumbled at the North Little Rock 36, which Bryant recovered. The Hornets extended their lead to 35-21 with 9:42 remaining on Ledbetter's 38-yard touchdown pass to Joseph Young.

North Little Rock Coach Jamie Mitchell has not been pleased with his team's inability to hold on to the football.

"We stress that from day one of practice," Mitchell said. "It's been interceptions, it's been fumbles. It hasn't been just one person. It's just that we are doing a pathetic job of taking care of the football. They made us pay for that and good teams will."

The Charging Wildcats (5-4, 4-2) travel to Cabot on Friday night. A victory by North Little Rock and a Conway loss to Bryant on Friday would give the Charging Wildcats the No. 2 seed thanks to their victory over Conway on Oct. 4.


Title on line

Gurdon started 0-2, but the Go-Devils have won seven consecutive games to put themselves in position to play for the 7-2A Conference championship.

"Ever since starting 0-2, we've come out of the gate, handled our business and executed on Fridays," Gurdon Coach Kyle Jackson said.

The Go-Devils (7-2, 6-0 7-2A) travel to Foreman (9-0, 6-0) on Friday, with the winner earning the conference championship and a No. 1 seed in the Class 2A playoffs. The loser will be the No. 2 seed.

Gurdon is averaging 30.6 points per game. Junior running back Jameson Threadgill has rushed for 929 yards and 11 touchdowns on 87 carries to lead the Go-Devils.

Jackson said Threadgill (ankle) has not been 100% since Sept. 13 against Benton Harmony Grove, but Threadgill is getting back to form and hopes that the limited carries he's had this season can help against a Foreman defense that has allowed 59 points total (6.5 ppg).

"You can't come into a game like this and change who you are," Jackson said. "We'll line up and run the football. They've got a great defense. They're big and physical, and they can run.

"But we're not going to sling the football 30-40 times."

Gurdon is attempting to win its first outright conference championship since 2014.

"You probably have to go through it [conference season] with a 7-0 record to win it," Jackson said. "We've been preaching to our kids that every week is the conference championship."

Sports on 11/07/2019

Print Headline: Mills out of playoffs on breach

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