Hurricane, Patriots tangle in 6A quarterfinals

Jonesboro running back Brock McCoy eludes a Sheridan defender during a 6A-East conference game this season. The Hurricane will play Little Rock Parkview tonight at Cooksey-Johns Field in the Class 6A state quarterfinals.

JONESBORO — A fourth-seeded team might not ordinarily appear to be an imposing state playoff opponent.

Little Rock Parkview is not the ordinary No. 4 seed. The Patriots feature two players who have made verbal commitments to Southeastern Conference football teams – running back James Jointer to Arkansas and quarterback Jaylon White to Ole Miss. They have others who are drawing Football Bowl Subdivision interest.

And they’re squarely in Jonesboro’s path as the opponent in tonight’s Class 6A quarterfinal game at Cooksey-Johns Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Jonesboro (7-3) has played two top 10 teams in second-ranked Conway and eighth-ranked Cabot, but Hurricane head coach Randy Coleman said Parkview (8-3) might have more talent than any team in Arkansas.

“I think it’s probably the most talented team in the state just when you look at them across the board,” Coleman said. “You’ve got the running back, Jointer, who’s committed to Arkansas. You’ve got the quarterback, White, who’s committed to Ole Miss. I’ve heard hearsay that they’ve got four other guys with FBS offers.

“Their defensive and offensive lines are really big. It’s almost like they’re cloned. They all kind of look the same just with speed and athletic frames.”

While 6A-East co-champion Jonesboro had a first-round bye last week, Parkview brushed aside Searcy in a 52-6 rout. The Patriots have won five in a row since back-to-back losses against Lake Hamilton (24-14) and Benton (30-23) in 6A-West play.

Parkview’s other loss was actually a victory on the field. The Patriots forfeited their season-opening 47-0 victory over Little Rock Southwest because an ineligible player participated, according to the Arkansas Activities Association.

Benton won the 6A-West with a 7-0 conference record. Greenwood, Lake Hamilton and Parkview, teams that tied for second at 5-2, were seeded second through fourth on tiebreakers.

Jonesboro had won six in a row before dropping a 50-43 decision at Marion in the regular-season finale. The loss did not impact the Hurricane’s place on the playoff bracket, but it did deny them what would have been the school’s first outright league title since 1980.

Coleman said his team has bounced back from the defeat.

“Their feelings were hurt. They were on the cusp of doing something that hadn’t been done in 40 years and close to having it in a good football game, and just came up short,” Coleman said. “I think that’s really motivated them. Our practices have been as competitive as they’ve been.”

Jonesboro has averaged 36.5 points per game with a prolific passing game. Quarterback Rykar Acebo has completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 2,748 yards and 34 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. Kavon Pointer is the Hurricane’s receiving leader with 59 receptions for 956 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wide receiver Jesse Washington (43 catches, 543 yards, eight touchdowns) and tight end Tyrin Ruffin (34 catches, 604 yards, nine touchdowns) have also been effective.

Coleman said Brock McCoy, Jonesboro’s season rushing leader with 453 yards, is close to 100 percent after battling an ankle injury.

“You have to figure that they’re going to do something to try to take Kavon out of the game, but you feel confident that Tyrin Ruffin or Jesse Washington can exploit that if they do,” Coleman said. “It’s status quo. We just have to throw and catch.”

Jonesboro had given up just 60 points in 6A-East play before Marion put up 50. Coleman said the Patriots exposed some weaknesses that the Hurricane had time to work on because of the first-round bye.

Linebacker Andre Reed leads the Hurricane with 75 tackles, 13 behind the line of scrimmage, and five sacks. Safety John Paul Pickens has 71 tackles.

Jonesboro is looking to reach the 6A semifinals for the first time since 2015. Tonight’s winner will play Greenwood or Mountain Home next week.

“These seniors, they’re aware, they understand the importance of things and how hard it is to win any sort of championship,” Coleman said. “Now that they have the one championship taken care of, they want to make their push to leave their mark here.”