(Photos by Eli and Klaire Howard)
By John R. Schirmer
PINE BLUFF – Scrapper quarterback Leonard Snell broke two school records Friday night in Nashville’s 69-48 victory over Watson Chapel in a game lasting more than 3 1/2 hours.
Snell rolled up 571 yards total offense, including 362 rushing and 209 passing. He broke the Scrapper single game rushing record of 223 rushing, 288 passing for a combined 511 yards set by Vaughn Tollett in 1935. He also broke the single game rushing record of 298 yards set by Pierre Vaughn in 2008.
“He had a great game,” Coach Mike Volarvich said of Snell’s performance. “He had a couple of mistakes early and got off to a slow start with a dropped snap and throwing the wrong way on a screen. Then his competitive nature kicked in.”
Snell averaged 11.3 yards per carry rushing.
For the night, the Scrappers recorded 699 yards total offense on 75 plays, including 209 passing and 490 rushing.
Nashville had 22 first downs to 12 for Watson Chapel.
The Scrappers lost one fumble while the Wildcats lost the ball once on an interception and four times on fumbles.
Nashville had 13 penalties for 143 yards while Watson Chapel had 5 penalties for 50 yards.
The Wildcats had 466 yards total offense on 65 plays, including 150 yards rushing and 316 yards passing.
Scrapper kicker Sergio Pacheco made 9 of 10 PATs against Watson Chapel. His only miss was on a blocked kick, Volarvich said.
“He came out slowly and struggled early in the season,” Volarvich said. “Kicking involves a whole operation from the snap to the hold to the kick. We got him in rhythm. Coach [Nick] Evans has been working with him. We have a specialty period in practice.”
The Scrappers fell behind early in the game when Watson Chapel ran the ball 70 yards for a touchdown on the first play.
The Wildcats extended their lead in the second quarter before the Scrappers went ahead 14-13, then added another TD to lead 21-13 at halftime.
Snell scored Nashville’s first TD on a 35-yard run in the second quarter. Pacheco’s kick tied the game at 7-7.
Snell ran the ball 40 yards for Nashville’s second touchdown of the night, then added another on a 14 yard run late in the first half. Pacheco kicked both extra points.
The Scrappers outscored Watson Chapel 27-14 in the third quarter; both teams scored 21 in the fourth.
Hopkins scored the Scrappers’ first run of the second half on an 8-yard run. Pacheco’s kick put Nashville up 28-13.
The Wildcats responded with a 3-yard scoring run and narrowed the gap to 28-20.
Trey Hughes caught a 69-yard pass from Snell for the next Scrapper score. Pacheco had his only miss of the night on the PAT, and Nashville led 34-20.
Again, Watson Chapel responded, this time with a 30-yard TD run, making the score 34-27 Nashville.
From there, Snell scored on a 14-yard run and Hopkins added a 1-yard scoring run to give Nashville a 48-27 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The scoring was nowhere over, however. Watson Chapel struck first in the fourth quarter on a 57-yard TD pass and cut the margin to 48-34.
Nashville replied with a 14-yard touchdown run by Snell to go up 55-34.
The Wildcats scored again on a 3-yard pass and added a 36-yard pass reception for another TD.
Snell and Hopkins added Nashville’s final scores of the night on runs of 64 yards and 32 yards, respectively. All of the fourth quarter PATs were good.
“It was a good game,” Volarvich said. “We went through the first part of the season 3-0. We break the season into non-conference, conference and playoffs. We’re 3-0 against three good Class 5A opponents. Watson Chapel was predicted to win 5A-South. It’s not how you start but how you finish.”
Volarvich said the Scrappers have “improved on some things we lacked before. We’re better on the offensive line than we were at De Queen.”
Offensive line Coach D.J. Graham “challenged them to be better. They responded well,” Volarvich said.
Watson Chapel’s 70-yard TD run came from Trey Cole, an offensive leader for the Wildcats. You’ve got to give him credit. We have to be sure to wrap up. We didn’t on the first play. You never want the first play to go for a touchdown,” Volarvich said.
As the game went on, however, “We wore them down. Their defense was exhausted. We were just getting warmed up. We preach to our guys that we want to be known as a team that finishes strong. We’ve done that the first three games.”
The Scrappers’ success at running the ball “goes back to O-line play and some key blocks by receivers downfield. You can’t do without a good offensive line and good play by receivers,” Volarvich said.
Hughes, a senior, “had his best game receiving and blocking. He manhandled their guys in the secondary. He made a great play on his touchdown.”
Hughes was Nashville’s leading receiver with 3 catches for 132 yards, including the 69-yard scoring reception. He also “did a great job blocking downfield.”
Hopkins ran the ball 15 times for 100 yards and 3 TDs.
Trent Harris had 4 carries for 25 yards, and Dea’jeon Armstrong ran the ball once for 3 yards.
Armstrong caught the ball 3 times for 45 yards. Andrew Hawthorne had 2 catches for 32 yards.
Defensively, Shundell Scott led the team with 10 tackles.
The Scrappers recovered five Wildcat turnovers and lost the ball once. “Our one turnover came on the opening kickoff,” Volarvich said.
With the non-conference portion of the season completed, the Scrappers have “shown we’ll compete,” Volarvich said. “We’ve had bad things happen early and bounced back and competed. Football is full of peaks and valleys. Good teams bounce back. Something is going to go wrong in the game, and you’ll have to come back.”
Part 2 of the Scrappers’ season will open Friday when Nashville visits Arkadelphia in the first conference game of the year. Kickoff from Badger Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
The remainder of Nashville’s games will begin at 7.
The Badgers are “very well coached,” according to Nashville Coach Mike Volarvich. “Coach [J.R.] Eldridge does a good job with them.”
The Scrappers are 3-0 after the non-conference portion of the schedule, including a 69-48 win over Watson Chapel last week.
Arkadelphia is 1-2 and lost to Hot Springs 31-21 last week.
Volarvich said that for the past three years, the winner of the game between Arkadelphia and Nashville has gone on to win the District 7-4A championship. Arkadelphia has won two of those three meetings.
Overall, Nashville leads the series with the Badgers 22-16-2 and has won 7 of the last 10 games.
“Their defense lines up where it’s supposed to. The offense is the same way. They have a couple of different formations and personnel groups. They’re well coached and execute well,” Volarvich said of the Badgers.
Running back Ty Kosters tore his ACL in Arkadelphia’s opening win over Stuttgart and is out for the season.
Quarterback Jeff Blake “does a good job for them. We’ll have to stop their quarterback,” according to Volarvich. “Their offense goes through him.”
Badger losses to Hot Springs and Sheridan “were to teams that run the option on offense, a lot different from what we do,” Volarvich said.
The Badgers “run a little bit and throw a little bit. Their running backs are good. We’ll have to contain them.”
For the Scrappers to win, “We have to get back to alignment, assignment and wrapping up on tackles,” Volarvich said. “Offensively, we’ll have to execute and make big plays.”
The Arkadelphia/Nashville series has become “a pretty good rivalry. Arkadelphia is always tough,” Volarvich said. “They’ll have a good crowd over there. We know about the kind of program they have. We’ll have to come with our A game.”
Volarvich came to Nashville after five years as offensive coordinator at Henderson State, where he coached against Eldridge at Ouachita Baptist, where Eldridge was defensive coordinator for a time.
“I’ve known him for six years. Our families know each other. Arkadelphia does things the right way,” Volarvich said.