From ‘The Hill’ to ‘The Rock’

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    Undefeated Scrappers head to State Championship game

    LUKE REEDER
    Sports Writer
    NASHVILLE – A new head coach, the loss of
    the star wide receiver, and the expectations
    of an entire town were all on the shoulders
    on the Nashville Scrapper football team at the
    beginning of this season. Unlike most teams
    that would buckle under all the pressure and
    changes, the Scrappers took the pressure with
    a grain of salt and proved that the winning spirit
    was still alive and well in Scrapper Stadium.
    The Nashville Scrappers are on their way to
    finishing their first undefeated season in almost
    a decade, with a win at the state title game
    Saturday the Scrappers would be undefeated
    for the first time since the 2006 season and
    have their first state title since 2007.

    Scrappers Billy Stewart and Ashton Nelson discuss the last defensive play and their tactics for Prairie Grove Saturday during practice Tuesday afternoon.
    Scrappers Billy Stewart and Ashton Nelson discuss the last defensive play and their tactics for Prairie Grove Saturday during practice Tuesday afternoon.

    Nashville
    announced that its new coach from Henderson
    State University was hired to head up the
    team. Coming off a quarterfinal demolishment
    last year by Dollarway,
    Mike Volarvich had his work
    cut out for him when he took
    the head coaching position.
    Coach Volarvich came
    from the offensive coordinator
    position at Henderson
    State University and enjoyed
    success with his star
    quarterback Kevin Rodgers
    who won numerous awards
    during his playing time at
    Henderson including GAC
    Male Athlete of the Year for
    2012-13 and 2013-14 and he
    also set a HSU and Great
    American Conference single
    game passing record during
    his career. With a player as
    talented as Rodgers that
    Volarvich helped groom,
    it was an easy choice to
    court Volarvich for the job at
    Nashville, but there is a big
    difference between college
    and high school football.
    Not only is there an age
    difference between college
    and high school players, you
    also have the town of Nashville
    looking and critiquing
    your every move but Volarvich
    was ready for this season
    and the expectations that
    came along with it, but not
    even Volarvich expected to
    make it to the state title game
    in his first season, “That was
    our goal, even when I went
    through the interviewing
    process I told them that
    that was my goal and our
    goal every year to get to
    state. I wasn’t sure honestly
    in the summer if we were a
    5-5 team or if we were a 15-0
    team because there were
    some things that had to get
    done and I wasn’t sure how
    good we were or weren’t,”
    Volarvich explained.
    This season Volarvich has
    been able to groom another
    star in the quarterback position
    with senior Leonard
    Snell. Snell has not only been
    a threat in the passing game
    but also a threat running the
    ball with 1,793 yards passing
    and 1,670 rushing yards this
    season so far. Having a quarterback
    that leads the team
    in passing and also rushing
    is any coach’s dream. But
    at the start of the season
    it looked like that dream
    was in jeopardy for Coach
    Volarvich. At the start of this
    season Snell had a turned
    ankle that he hurt about a
    week before Coach Volarvich
    arrived in Nashville, “When I
    first got here Snell was hurt
    and had a turned ankle that
    he hurt the week before I got
    here in some offseason work.
    I did not get to work with him
    immediately,” Coach Volarvich
    said. Yet even with the
    slow start to their relationship
    as a player and coach,
    the two have come together
    to build one of the most potent
    offenses in the state that
    averages almost 345 rushing
    yards a game and 136 passing
    yards a game.
    Along with the double
    threat of Snell’s arm and legs,
    the team also has two other
    talented running backs to
    chose from. Junior Darius
    Hopkins is the team’s second
    leading rusher just 129 yards
    behind Snell with 1,541 yards
    rushing this season. The
    third piece in the Scrapper’s
    rushing trio is Sophomore
    Trent Harris. Harris shares
    carries with two players with
    over 1,500 rushing yards
    each and yet is only 72 yards
    away from having 1,000 rushing
    yards this season this
    928 yards so far this season.
    With two productive running
    backs and a quarterback
    that can be a threat both
    through the air and on the
    ground it can be easy to see
    how the Scrappers are playing
    for a state title, but the
    high octane offense is just
    half of the winning equation
    for Nashville.
    The saying goes that “Defense
    wins championships”
    and if that is true Nashville
    has their work cut out for
    them Saturday. The Scrapper
    defense is run by the ever
    enthusiastic Coach Brad
    Chesshir. Coach Chesshir’s
    squad has allowed just 18.9
    points or less than three
    touchdowns a game this season.
    To say the Scrappers do
    not have a strong defense
    would be the understatement
    of the season.
    The leading tackler for
    Nashville is senior Ashton
    Nelson who can be seen
    relaying the calls from Coach
    Chesshir to the rest of the defense
    every game. Number
    34 is the shot caller of the
    defense and wherever the
    ball is he is usually close behind.
    Nelson leads the team
    with 111 total tackles and
    61 of those tackles came in
    one on one situation. Going
    into the state game Saturday
    Nelson will be in the zone
    and will look to carry out
    the three things he believes
    it will take to win, “We just
    have to line up, we have to
    do our assignments, and we
    have to fly to the ball.”
    Right behind Nelson is senior
    Billy Stewart. Stewart is
    second on the team with 98
    total tackles and leads
    the team in solo tackles by
    having just one more than
    Nelson with 62.
    The statistic that stands
    out and causes fear in opposing
    quarterbacks all across
    4A is the amount of sacks
    Stewart has amassed this
    season. Stewart has only
    played in 13 games this season
    having missed the game
    against Waldron.
    But even without the full
    playing time this season,
    Stewart still has had a record
    breaking season.
    With 23 sacks this season
    Stewart has now sole possession
    of the record for most
    sacks in a season in 4A, “It
    feels really good, but now
    we have to go an take what
    is ours,” Stewart said about
    the record and the upcoming
    title game.
    Not only does Coach
    Chesshir command a strong
    defense, he also is the creator
    of a phrase that has
    taken Nashville by storm.
    It is hard to go to a Scrapper
    pep rally, a game on
    Friday night, or even around
    the town without hearing
    or seeing the phrase “Get
    Your Mind Right!” Most Friday
    nights it is easy to hear
    Coach Chesshir yelling his
    catchphrase on the sidelines
    before the game starts or
    after a big play but it was
    not meant to be a motto for
    this season but instead it
    came by accident one day
    in the weight room, “Well
    there really is no special
    story behind it. One day
    during pre-season in the
    weight room we were getting
    excited and having fun, and
    it has always been my thing
    as a coach to tell my players
    to stay focused and get their
    mind right. After that day in
    the weight room we decided
    to start that chant and it took
    off and became a big deal,”
    Coach Chesshir explained.
    But even with the stingy
    defense and the potent offense,
    the Scrappers may
    have a secret weapon to help
    them on Saturday.
    Instead of pads and a jersey,
    this secret weapon suits
    up in a different uniform and
    is armed with pom poms
    instead of a football.
    The secret weapon is a
    trio of sophomore cheerleaders
    that share something
    special in common.

    Nashville Cheerleading Sophomores Leslie Lingo, Breanna Peebles and Olivia Herzog might be a good luck charm for the Scrappers. The trio has never cheered for a loosing Scrapper team and will try to keep that streak going Saturday as they cheer on the Scrappers with the rest of their squad.
    Nashville Cheerleading Sophomores Leslie Lingo, Breanna Peebles and Olivia Herzog might be a good luck charm for the Scrappers. The trio has never cheered for a loosing Scrapper team and
    will try to keep that streak going Saturday as they cheer on the Scrappers with the rest of their squad.

    Breanna Peebles, Leslie
    Lingo and Olivia Herzog have
    been cheering together since
    the seventh grade and have
    yet to cheer for a team that
    has lost a game.
    It might be a stretch for
    some to call the three a good
    luck charm but they might
    just be, “I’d like to think I am
    a good luck charm,” Herzog
    said. Peebles also agreed
    with her saying, “I haven’t
    ever missed a game in all of
    my four years of cheering so
    you could say I might serve
    as a good luck charm.”
    Lingo was not as quick
    to say they might be a good
    luck charm but she did believe
    her and her squad’s
    cheering impacts the game,
    “They’ve told us before that
    they couldn’t do it without
    us and we also help get the
    crowd going and they play a
    huge part in the game.”
    One thing all three could
    agree on was their excitement
    for Saturday. It is
    the trio’s first year as high
    school cheerleaders and to
    be able to cheer for a team in
    state is something that most
    cheerleaders do not get the
    opportunity to do, “I am so
    excited I get to experience
    this my year of high school
    and to cheer on the mighty
    Scrapper at War Memorial
    Stadium,” Herzog exclaimed.
    Peebles added that it
    should be an experience
    that she will always remember
    and Lingo said, “I’m so
    excited and expecting a win
    but if we don’t win I may
    cry.” Whether you believe
    in superstitions and that
    the trio of cheerleaders that
    winning teams seem to get
    cheered on by could be a key
    to success for the Scrappers,
    one thing anybody can agree
    on is the impact cheerleaders
    have on a crowd and
    that without them the game
    would not be the same.
    The Scrappers have already
    begun preparations
    for the game on Saturday,
    “We are going to War Memorial
    on Thursday (today). We
    could have gone on any day
    but I chose Thursday so we
    could have our two major
    work days on Tuesday and
    Wednesday so that they are
    the same as they are any
    other week. Today I’m going
    to let the kids walk around
    and take pictures to get the
    wow factor out of them and
    then have a light practice
    and come back and have our
    usual walk through on Friday,”
    Coach Volarvich said.
    But even with the biggest
    game of the season looming,
    Coach Volarvich is treating
    this like any other game and
    trying to keep the week as
    normal as possible.
    Nashville will face Prairie
    Grove in the State Championship
    game. The game is
    the most important of the
    season and Nashville will
    go into it with an almost
    unstoppable offensive trio,
    a defense that does not give
    points up easy and for the
    superstitious the good
    luck of three cheerleaders
    cheering on the sidelines.
    Nashville will hold a
    community wide pep rally
    in the Scrapper Arena at
    6 p.m. on Friday and the
    game will start at 6:30 p.m.
    on Saturday at War Memorial
    Stadium in Little Rock
    with the gates opening at
    5 p.m.

    COACH BEARDEN
    Nashville News Scrappers Defensive Backs Coach Brian Bearden came to work with “His Mind Right” recently. Bearden is pictured wearing his four recent Scrappers Championship rings from 1996, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
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