JONESBORO — Jonesboro’s tour of the 7A-Central conference ends this evening with another opponent ranked among the state’s top 10.
Eighth-ranked Conway visits Jonesboro’s Cooksey-Johns Field for a 7 o’clock contest that closes non-conference play for both teams. The Hurricane went 1-1 against their first two 7A-Central opponents, rallying to beat Little Rock Catholic in the opener before losing a close game to seventh-ranked Cabot last week.
Jonesboro head coach Randy Coleman praised the way his team competed in both games.
“Our guys, I know they’re going to compete their tails off for four quarters. We played really poorly against Catholic and it was brutally hot, and they competed and found a way in the fourth quarter to come back and get a win,” Coleman said. “We played a lot better against Cabot. We made too many special teams mistakes in the first half, but then found a way in the second half to come back and take the lead late, we just didn’t hold it.”
Offensive punch has been another constant for the Hurricane with more than 1,000 total yards in the first two games.
Quarterback Cross Jumper has completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 634 yards and six touchdowns, adding 113 yards and another score rushing. Running backs Charlie Long and Brock McCoy both have more than 100 yards rushing through two games.
Top receiving threats include Will Barre’ (15 for 314 yards), Connor Clark (11-168) and Dawson Wagner (7-130).
“Barre’ obviously came on at the end of last year and really showed how he could play, and then he carried that over into this year,” Coleman said. “You’ve got Dawson Wagner who’s making plays. Last week I think he had five (receptions) for 92 and a touchdown, and Connor Clark had seven for 106 and a touchdown from the tight end position, and that’s really in two and a half quarters because he started cramping up and couldn’t finish the game.
“What’s crazy is Kavon Pointer really hasn’t shown up yet, but he’s going to break out one of these games too and Braelyn Moore is a good player as well. ... We’ve got some weapons and Cross has been efficient running the ball. Charlie Long topped 100 yards last week and Brock McCoy just keeps getting better and better, and he has some explosive capability.”
Defensively, safety John Paul Pickens already has three interceptions and linebacker Marco Avant is Jonesboro’s top tackler with 22 stops. Defensive lineman Nate Light has three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Conway, which defeated Jonesboro 14-7 last season, opened with two 7A-West opponents. The Wampus Cats (1-1) routed Fayetteville 38-21 in their opener and fell 47-21 to second-ranked Bentonville last week, though they trailed just 17-14 at halftime.
“Keith Fimple, their head coach, is one of the most well-respected defensive minds in the state and has been for a long time, so their defense is just rock solid,” Coleman said. “Now you get into the mix Mark Kelley, who was Searcy’s head coach last year and now he’s the offensive coordinator (at Conway). He’s a guy who wants to throw it way more than he wants to run it, so you’re combining this high-octane offense with a sound, talented group on defense. They’re very, very good.”
The Hurricane will follow tonight’s game with an open date next week. Jonesboro opens 6A-East play Sept. 25 at El Dorado.