NWADG Prep Rally Football Preview


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PREP RALLY: CLASS 3A | 8.20.2023 46 SHINE ON Booneville the heavy favorite in 3A-1 KEVIN TAYLOR SPECIAL TO NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE e consensus among 3A-1 football coaches is that Booneville may not just be the heavy favorite to win the conference title but could challenge for another state championship. e Bearcats have three of the league's top running backs and, like always, a bunch of kids who have believed in the program's system since birth. "I say it all the time, I'm very fortunate to be at a place like Booneville," Bearcats coach Doc Crowley said. "I show up at track meets or baseball games in the spring and coaches will ask, 'How do you get kids to do this? I tell them they're just Booneville kids.' "ey're tough, they're brought up through a great little league system, and they know what it takes to win." at said, the rest of the league may be as wide open as ever. Defending conference and state champ Charleston will be tough, coaches believe, but may lack a little depth. ere are also four new head coaches in the league. Veteran West Fork coach Rodney Selph, who saw the Bearcats up close and personal during his senior football season (1988), is intrigued by all the new coaches. "is is the toughest league in the state, I believe," Selph said. "You've got Booneville and Charleston up there. I know Charleston lost a lot, but they're unusually really good. Aer that, there's a lot of people battling for a playoff spot." First-year Mansfield coach Whit Overton understands the Booneville mystique better than most, having spent the last six years coaching for the Bearcats. But Mansfield has some proven players coming off a 7-4 campaign. Don't sleep on Mansfield, Crowley said. Crowley is wary of Lavaca as well. "I really think Mansfield will be pretty scary," Crowley said. "ey had some good ninth-graders. We've seen Lavaca in team camp, and the quarterback throws the ball really well." Lavaca quarterback Cutler Winters and a boost in numbers make the Golden Arrows intriguing as well. Lavaca's overall numbers have doubled in the past four years. "I want to get kids involved because I think it's good for them, whether they're going to be the star or not. I love them all," coach Mark Headley said. "ey're not all going to be stars, but I think it teaches them life lessons." Winters took over late in the 2022 season and threw for 520 yards (22-of-37) and seven touchdowns. Receivers Jimmy Barron and Andrew Johnson combined for 13 touchdown receptions in 2022. e true 3A-1 'wildcard' may be the Cedarville Pirates. First-year coach Spencer Adams has revamped the run-heavy offense into more of a spread attack. Adams (Cedarville), Whit Overton (Mansfield), Greenland's Cody Napier, Hackett's Mason Wann will be leading new teams this year. All but Adams played for their respective high schools. As for Charleston, the defending state champs, will be riding a 12-game winning streak when they open the season. Coach Ricky May's team may be a bit of a mystery, too. Charleston lost a lot of starters, but those underclassmen who return saw plenty of action in 2022. "Honestly, we were really deep last year, but our sophomores and juniors played a lot at the end of games," May said. "Sometimes they played more minutes than the starters did. We've got a lot of kids that contributed last year, but this year they're contribution has to be a lot more. We don't have the depth that we had last year, but we definitely have some skill." Napier, who spent the previous three seasons as the defensive coordinator at Gentry, whose program is on the upswing, replaces longtime Greenland coach Lee Larkin. "It's a huge honor to be back in my hometown," Napier said. "I was fortunate to play for coach Larkin. I have a lot of respect for coach. As for the conference, it's the toughest in the state. ere are no easy nights in this conference." Cutler Winters SCHOOL Lavaca POSITION Quarterback CLASS Junior HEIGHT 6-0 WEIGHT 190 TWITTER HANDLE @cutlerwinters3 THE DIGITS (statistics) Threw for 520 yards and seven touchdowns over the final five games for the Golden Arrows. Also ran for 160 yards and a TD. Started team's final five games as a sophomore. FAVORITE CLASS History FAVORITE PREGAME MEAL Bananas I LISTEN TO Rap and Hip Hop Quavo Migos I BINGE WATCH QB1 I'M TERRIFIED OF God I WOULD NEVER, EVER Sky Dive I DRIVE My parent's car MY HERO IS My big brother, Caven WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT FOOTBALL IS The brotherhood. Doesn't matter if you win or lose, you're together. IN 10 YEARS I WILL Playing quarterback in the NFL (backup plan, business). Dax Goff | Booneville File Photo

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