The top-heavy 5A South should be fun 2014, with at least three teams capable of making deep playoff runs.
Camden Fairview has been one of the 5A’s strongest teams over the last decade, and new coach Mike Cox will try to keep up the momentum. The Cardinals captured the 2012 state title, and after splitting the 2013 conference title with Hope, the Cards were knocked off by Batesville in the quarterfinals. His first order of business has been finding a new quarterback. At running back, Damarea Crockett (700 rushing yards in 2013) is the starter, and 6-foot-2 receiver Cornelius Page will get some D-I looks. A strong, fast defensive line is key for a unit that gave up less than 20 points in nine consecutive games at one point last season. If the Cardinals can adjust to the new coaches, they’re the heavy favorites to lock down yet another conference title.
White Hall is regularly the Cardinals’ top challenger. The Bulldogs (8-3 in 2013) forced a split of the 2011 conference title. They return 15 starters under veteran coach Mike Vaughn (76-47 at WHHS). Quarterback Kirk Baugh threw for 2,000 yards and added 700 on the ground and is a quality college prospect. Running back Kendrick Edgerson (1,300 rushing yards in 2013) completes an elite offensive backfield. Wide receiver Daniel Sprinkle (6’5, 240) is the brother of Razorback tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and is almost impossible to cover. The Bulldogs’ high powered offense will have to carry them, though, as the defense has numerous holes, namely in the back seven.
Hope came out of nowhere to win 10 games and claim a share of the 5A South title a year ago. Now they’ll have to prove they are a legitimate competitor year in and year out. The Bobcats are capable of grinding out close, low-scoring wins (17-12 over Camden Fairview, 23-21 over Lakeside, and 28-13 over White Hall) behind a fast offense and strong defense. The defensive line of Kadarius Rowe (6’3, 325), McTelvim Agim (6’3, 250), and Keuntai Monk (6’0, 240) is about as big and physical as they come in the 5A. The Bobcats still need playmakers in the offense and defensive backfields.
Watson Chapel went 5-5 in 2013, its lowest win total since 2007. Eight defensive starters return from a unit that pitched two shutouts and held three other opponents to 14 points or fewer, but the Wildcats are still looking for a quarterback. Magnolia bounced back from a winless 2012 to win three games, and 15 returning starters should equal momentum, but the Panthers must improve an offense that was shut out three times last season. Lakeside fell to 3-7, its worst season under fifth-year coach Jared McBride. The Rams have a solid defensive line, but lack the speed to compete with the top of the conference. Hot Springs brings back 16 starters from a 3-7 campaign, and speedy quarterback Anthony Goffigan (700 rushing yards in 2013) commands a disciplined flexbone attack. The Trojan defense may struggle to slow down the faster teams in the conference. De Queen went winless last year, but second-year coach Justin Kramer has more talent in place for his system, especially on an offense that scored 21 points or fewer in every game.
Make you pick of who will win the 5A South and be sure to check out THV 11’s 40 teams in the month of August previews for Camden Fairview, White Hall, Watson Chapel, Lakeside, and Hot Springs.