Laster, Hornets still have sting left

by Levi Gilbert

This isn’t how they planned it.

Through six weeks, the Maumelle Hornets are just 1-5. The Hornets have battled injuries and even had to forfeit a Week 3 win because of an ineligible player.

But, despite everything the team has faced, it’s not over for the Hornets or senior Hudson Laster. Coming off a win at Clarksville in Week 6, Maumelle still has a fighter’s chance at a playoff berth over the next four weeks in the 5A West.

“We just have to come together and fit the puzzle pieces together,” Laster said. “We definitely have the parts, but parts only become a whole when they work together in unison.”

Laster, a senior defensive back for the Hornets, was selected to this year’s 501 Football Team — 26 players representing all 11 counties of the 501. The team, sponsored by First Service Bank and First Security Bank, boasts the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the field. Laster was nominated by his head coach, David Farr.

“Hudson has good physical strength, a great motor to the football and is an explosive hitter,” Farr wrote in his nomination. “He’s a great character kid that has a sensational work ethic. He’s committed to his academic success. Hudson is a kid that comes early, leaves late and will always chip in to help out a teammate. He is an incredible teammate.

“Hudson is very competitive in nature. He wants to win every rep regardless of who he is playing. The same thing that makes him a great teammate is what makes him a great classmate. He is a natural born leader that gets all those around him organized together with common purpose. This attitude brings about the best in others.”

Just like the season has been a struggle for the Hornets as a whole, it’s also been especially frustrating for Laster, who has been limited to only a couple defensive series in Week 4 against Greenbrier because of injury.

“Injury has always been a challenge for me, especially this season,” Laster said. “I hope to remain healthy for the remainder of the season. The mental struggle of not being able to help out my guys on the field is really what has been killing me this season.”

Maumelle played a tough non-conference schedule to help prepare for a deep 5A West. The Hornets won in Week 3 against Little Rock Mills, but were later forced to forfeit the game.

“We were definitely faced with some serious adversity at the beginning of the year,” Laster said. “After playing both North Little Rock and Wynne, we realized that we have an extremely long way to go. But I do think that this will help us later in the season when we play the tougher teams in the 5A West.”

The remaining conference schedule won’t be easy for Maumelle ¬— Morrilton, Farmington, at Harrison and Alma.

“Last season, Morrilton and Harrison both came away with a win by points numbering less than a touchdown,” Laster said. “So this year, I hope we can produce a better outcome. As for Farmington, they mercy-ruled us the first half, and this year we’re looking forward to see how they play. I am in a state of curiosity with Alma at this point because this is the first time that Maumelle has played them, making it a good opportunity to show what the Hornets are made of.

“After pulling out the win against Clarksville in Week 6, it should give us the momentum to make something out of the rest of the season if we’re willing to work for it.”

Morrilton, like Maumelle, is 1-5, but it’s a deceiving record as the Devil Dogs recently had to forfeit four wins.

“The key to the game against Morrilton is simple — execution,” Laster said. “We need all 11 on both offense and defense to complete their assignments. If we can just start clicking early on, people would be surprised on what Maumelle can make of the game.”

Laster was an all-conference performer in track his freshman year and plans on running again this spring. Off the field, Laster is a member of the Christian Student Union at Maumelle High. In his free time, he’s a self-confessed “motorcycle fanatic.”

“Any chance I have some free time, I get my bikes up and running and take them for a ride,” Laster said.  

Maumelle plays host to Morrilton at 7 p.m. Friday.