Threat of winter weather pushes state finals back for Morrilton, Cabot

by Levi Gilbert

Two 501 teams are headed to state championship games, and another is still in the hunt.

Morrilton and Cabot were set to play in their state final games this Friday in the 5A and 7A, respectively, and Glen Rose was scheduled to play in the 3A semi-final matchup, but impending winter weather has forced the games back a week.

The Arkansas Activities Association announced Wednesday that all scheduled games for Friday, Dec. 6, and Saturday, Dec. 7, will be pushed back one week.

“This decision was based on a safety issue,” said AAA executive director Lance Taylor. “We wanted to make sure everyone could travel to Little Rock or the other semifinal locations without hazardous driving conditions. We talked with several of our member schools involved in the playoffs, and we checked with the (War Memorial) stadium. This appears to be the best route to take by extending the season one week.

“Playing in a state championship game can be a lifetime dream. We want this to be something the athletes, coaches, parents and fans will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Revised schedule:
7A final – Bentonville vs. Cabot – 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13
5A final – Morrilton vs. Batesville – Noon Saturday, Dec. 14
3A semi-final – Smackover vs. Glen Rose (moved to Benton Harmony Grove) – Friday, Dec. 13

Cabot (12-0) is riding a perfect season into its matchup with Bentonville (10-2), who is returning to the championship game for the fourth consecutive year. Conway played Cabot during the regular season. It was one of only two Conway regular season losses. And the Wampus Cats are fresh of a loss to Bentonville in the 7A semi-final. Wampus Cat play-by-play announcer Jeff Matthews is familiar with both teams.

“I think you’re in for a pretty good game,” Matthews said. “I could make an argument for both teams, but that would be the easy way out. I’m going to make just the argument for Cabot. They have extreme experience. They’ve just got tons of kids that have been in this program since they were probably 6 or 7 years old.

“And the program that Cabot runs, the offense of Mike Malham, the Dead T, it’s all about deception. All the players are about the same size, they all move the ball downfield. They are fine getting two or three yards per carry. The clock runs, they get a first down, they snap it again and repeat. Bentonville is going to be lucky to have it one or two times a quarter. I really do think Cabot has a great chance to win this game and bring a state championship back to Central Arkansas.”

Morrilton’s explosive offense has taken the Devil Dogs (11-2) all the way to the finals, where they will face a tough test against Batesville (11-2).

“We are very proud of our coaches and players for making it into the fifth state title game for the Devil Dogs,” said Kent Chambers, Morrilton High assistant principal. “The players and coaches have worked very hard to get to this point. We believe we have the best team and the best coaching staff and the best students in the state of Arkansas.

“Playing in the state championship game obviously means you are winning and having a successful season. Those two variables always help the climate of your school. It makes students and former students very proud to be Devil Dogs.”