There's always uncertainty about how a player responds in pressure situations, especially in the playoffs when one loss will end a team's season.
Bentonville West quarterback Jake Casey responded quite well in a first-round game against Jonesboro in Class 7A. Casey threw the first of his four touchdown passes on West's first offensive play from scrimmage and the Wolverines rolled to a 42-20 win over the Hurricane.
For his effort, Casey is the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Player of the Week for teams in Northwest Arkansas. Eli Masingale of Ozark in the NWADG Player of the Week for teams in the River Valley.
Casey got the home crowd at Bentonville West excited early when he connected with Ty Durham for a quick-strike, 50-yard touchdown to Ty Durham on the Wolverines first-play from scrimmage.
It was a play West had practiced on during the week leading up to the opening-round game.
"That was going to be our first play," Casey said. "We've been doing it all week, and we were feeling good about it. I knew then and there it was going to be a touchdown. We had to go out there and do our thing and keep on rolling."
West also scored on its second possession when Jaxson Brust caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Casey to cap a short drive. Casey finished the night 16 of 31 for 283 yards and 4 touchdowns for the Wolverines, who improved to 8-3 on the season.
The win earned West a rematch with Cabot in a second-round game. Cabot, which beat the Wolverines 34-10 at Centerton to open the season, had a first-round bye after finishing second to Bryant in the 7A-Central.
Ozark used a stout defensive effort and a strong running game to eliminate Mena 45-7 in a first-round playoff game in Class 4A. The Hillbillies were again overpowering on the ground and Masingale led the way with 156 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 18 carries. Masingale earns NWADG Player of the Week honors one week after quarterback Landon Wright was cited for his play after rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-21 win over Huntsville.
Wright ran for 90 yards and one touchdown against Mena.
"Eli is a big-play threat," Ozark coach Jeremie Burns said. "But then you combine that with Landon, it is very special. We took advantage of our running game. The line did an awesome job as always blocking with the receivers as well."
BRANDON SCOTT, Charleston, 144 passing, 3 TD; 2 rushing TD
TRACE HALL, Booneville, 6-185 rushing, 2 TD
JACOB JENKINS, Rogers, 230 rushing, 3 TD
ELI WISDOM, Shiloh Christian, 6 TD passing; 3-68 rushing
TY DURHAM, Bentonville West, 3-119 receiving, 2 TD