SPRINGDALE -- There may not be a better place in Arkansas to watch a high school football game than Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium, with its white railed fence and 'Super S' logo at midfield.
That's especially true with Jarrell Williams, the man whose name is on the stadium, watching the game. Williams built Springdale into a statewide power during a long career as the Bulldogs' coach, but Springdale isn't the same since its school district split and began putting separate teams on the field in 2006.
Members of the Springdale High Class of 1999, who were special guests during homecoming on Friday, saw the change firsthand when the Bulldogs fell behind 47-13 at halftime and lost 54-20 to Bentonville West.
The Wolverines scored early in the third quarter to invoke the 35-point mercy rule with a running clock, and the stands on the home side gradually began to empty. Springdale entered the game with three consecutive victories, but the Bulldogs were overmatched by Bentonville West, which grabbed a 23-0 lead in the first quarter.
Springdale responded with two touchdowns after the public address announcer played Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" song to begin the second quarter. But Nick Whitlatch made sure Springdale didn't gain get closer when he burst through for an 80-yard touchdown run.
Whitlatch is a powerful runner who also plays middle linebacker for the Wolverines. He almost switched hands with the football after defensive backs appeared to be closing in during his long run. But Whitlatch (6-0, 185 pounds) found another gear and pulled away for the score.
"Track, being an off-season athlete helps a lot with that," said Whitlatch, who runs the 200 and 400 during the spring for the Wolverines. "That was my longest touchdown run, at least on varsity."
Springdale High (3-2, 1-1 7A-West) will face Springdale Har-Ber next week while West (3-2, 2-0) plays Rogers High.
Bentonville West is hopeful consecutive wins over Fayetteville and Springdale High will spark another surge like last season when the Wolverines beat Springdale 35-22 as part of a six-game winning streak.
Friday's game marked the halfway point in the regular season, and there is much left to be decided. It is no longer accurate to describe conference games as a race to the playoffs, especially when 12 of the 16 teams in Class 7A advance to postseason play. But the pecking order for seedings and first-round byes is important, especially for teams that want to avoid games with Bryant and North Little Rock for as long as possible.
For now, Bentonville West has momentum, and Whitlatch said the Wolverines won't be caught looking too far ahead.
"This week, Springdale was our most important game of the season," Whitlatch said. "Next week, it'll be another team. We just have to focus each week on doing the little things. One at a time."
NW News on 10/05/2019
Print Headline: Wolverines take charge early against Springdale