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Scott’s late touchdown pass allows West to take victory

by Mitchell Gladstone | June 25, 2023 at 2:41 a.m.
Wide receiver Malachi Henry (center) of the West team catches a touchdown pass during the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star game Saturday night at Estes Stadium in Conway. More photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)

CONWAY -- Charleston quarterback Brandon Scott spent little time thinking about the fact that Saturday would probably be his final game of organized football ever. He'd already done as much back in December when his Tigers rolled to a Class 3A state title.

But with his head coach Ricky May leading things on the West sidelines, Scott salvaged things late.

Scott's 27-yard touchdown pass to Farmington wide receiver Peyton Funk with 61 seconds remaining lifted the West to a 37-34 in the Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game at the University of Central Arkansas' Estes Stadium.

Overall MVP honors went to Scott as he completed 15 of 18 passes for 189 yards and 4 touchdowns while rushing 5 times for 25 yards and another score.

"It was so much fun," Scott said afterward. "[Having multiple teammates and coaches] made me more comfortable getting here and then I connected with all these guys. ... We really played as a team tonight."

The East squad nearly managed to climb all the way out of a 20-0 hole it dug itself in the first quarter.

Touchdown passes from Malachi Gober (North Little Rock) to Malachi Cruz (Izard County) and from Sam Sanders (Little Rock Catholic) to Colton Eichler (Little Rock Catholic) in a span of just more than three minutes midway through the third quarter brought the East within 23-21.

The West went back up 30-21 on Scott's rushing score and looked poised to retake control after forcing the East into a three-and-out at the end of the third quarter. But a fumble on a punt to start the fourth put Sanders and the East in prime position.

Sanders would then lead back-to-back touchdown drives, first cashing in a 3-yard keeper with 8:04 to play and then taking the East right back into the red zone after Conway's Wade Simpson intercepted Greenwood quarterback Hunter Houston.

Gober, who led the East with 117 rushing yards on 10 carries, ran off the right end of the offensive line for his second score.

But Scott and the West needed only five plays to counter, capping things with Scott's touchdown pass to Funk, who was nearly dragged down by an East defensive back in the process.

"We knew he could do it. He's done it his whole career," May said of Scott. "What a way to go out."

As much as Scott was the night's headliner, Van Buren wide receiver Malachi Henry took center stage for much of the first half. Henry -- who earned positional MVP honors along with Benton offensive lineman Karter Sanders, Malvern defensive lineman Leonard Leach, Siloam Springs kicker Ronald Mancia and Simpson -- hauled in 9 receptions for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Playing on the same striped turf that he hopes to call home for the next four seasons as a UCA Bear, Henry was dialed in early, blowing past his man for a 26-yard touchdown on the first drive. He then linked up with Scott on the second series, tossing a 33-yard wide-receiver pass to set up Scott's 14-yard touchdown to Funk.

And for good measure, Henry went up over the top of another East defender on his team's third possession, breaking free for a 48-yard score.

"We executed [the offensive gameplan] really well," Henry said. "We were just clicking out there."

Scott, who moved from Van Buren to Charleston when he was in seventh grade, had always wondered what it would be like to team up with Henry.

They didn't have to imagine Saturday.

"I've been keeping up with him," Scott said of Henry. "Don't get me wrong, I love Charleston. But I've always wanted to play with him. ... He's a dog, dude. It was so much fun getting to play with him finally."

  photo  The East team’s defensive back Tyler Hill (center) of Izard County the East attempts to stop West wide receiver Peyton Funk (right) of Farmington as he runs the ball downfield during the All-Star football game at Estes Stadium in Conway. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)

 Gallery: HS All-Star football

Print Headline: Scott’s late touchdown pass allows West to take victory


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