Eagles suffer second-round exit from playoffs

by Mark Oliver

2014 was a year to remember for the Conway Christian School Football Team.

From winning the school’s first conference championship to securing a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the Class 2A playoffs, the Eagles appeared primed for a deep playoff run. For senior linebacker and 501 Football Team honoree Noah Bowman, the anticipation couldn’t have been greater.

“Coming into round two, there was a lot of excitement,” Bowman said. “It was the first time we’ve ever had a bye week, so it was a big deal for us to be where we were. We had the opportunity to play a tough team at home, and we always play better at home. With two weeks to get ready, we were anxious, but prepared.”

Despite the preparation, however, the Eagles’ hopes were clipped as they fell to Des Arc, 34-14.

“I am proud of our effort as a team,” Bowman said. “Even though we were down, we always played hard every play and that’s something that’s a big deal for us at Conway Christian. If the season was going to end in the playoffs, we would much rather have it happen at home, in front of those who supported us all year long.”

For Bowman, the loss was bittersweet.

“After we got into the locker room, we tried to overcome the loss and the end of our season,” Bowman said. “Although we lost, there was joy in the room. There was a lot of happiness looking back on the good season we had. We put forth a good effort, and we felt like we were satisfied with the effort we put out.”

For Bowman and the senior class, they hope their efforts on the field will not be soon forgotten.

“The seven of us that were left from the original seventh grade group have been playing together for a very long time,” Bowman said. “We spent a lot of time together in practice and in school. The most emotional point for us was knowing that we weren’t going to be playing football together anymore. I’ve been thankful for having them beside me on the field. They were all really good leaders this past year, and I couldn’t think of a better senior class to play beside on Friday nights.”

“This senior class went undefeated in seventh grade football, went undefeated in conference play and won the championship in junior high as ninth-graders and they went undefeated in conference play as seniors to win the conference championship,” said Eagles play-by-play announcer John David Smith. “That is a great legacy for this class. They certainly helped take the football program to a new level. I think this was the best team in Conway Christian history in terms of overall teamwork. Talent wise, it would rank among the top teams in school history. The teamwork is what set this team apart.”

The year was not short of great moments for Conway Christian. In his final season as an Eagle, Bowman says there’s one memory he’ll never forget.

“Winning conference against Magnet Cove was our most exciting moment of the season,” Bowman said. “That was a huge comeback against a big rival to win the conference championship. That’s something we’ve never done before as a school and it felt great.”

Although the senior class has played its last game under the Friday night lights, Smith and Bowman assure Eagles fans that there’s a lot to look forward to in 2015.

“You have to start with quarterback Jakob Henry, who had a great year in his first season as the starter,” Smith said. “Running back Clayton Dent led the team in touchdowns this year. Jon Mark Wood will return as the leading receiver. Sophomore Seth Smith scored 11 touchdowns this year. Lineman Carter Bramlett will be a leader next year up front along with Carter Free. Will Callaway and Bennett Pascoe will be tough in the defensive backfield.”

Conway Christian quarterback Jakob Henry. (Todd Owens photo)

“Every player we have works hard and gives it their all,” Bowman said. “No matter what kind of opponent we face — even if they’re bigger, stronger and faster than us — we never give up. That’s the message I hope we leave to the younger players next year.”