Very few teams were able to give Greenwood a test on the field this year, one of them being Lake Hamilton. On Saturday evening, they would rematch for the State Title.
Lake Hamilton would start out hot and quickly go up 10-0 over the Bulldogs midway through the first quarter. Greenwood would actually trail at the end of the first quarter. Lake Hamilton had a plethora of momentum and hype in the first quarter.
Enter: Parker Gill. Near the end of the first quarter, the junior linebacker muscled through the line and sacked the Lake Hamilton quarterback for a 10-yard loss. The momentum immediately swung to the Bulldogs. The defense, fueled by Gill’s big play, would begin to play with a rejuvenated sense of intensity.
After the defense helped breathe life into the Greenwood sidelines, the offense went to work. With 9:16 left in the 2nd quarter, senior quarterback LD Richmond would find senior Caden Brown on a slant route for the 7-yard touchdown. The Bulldog defense continued the intensity and forced Lake Hamilton to a 3 and out on the following possession.
Less than 3 minutes after the first Bulldog touchdown, Richmond would go in the air again and find junior Luke Brewer for a 39-yard touchdown. Taking the lead erupted the sidelines and you could feel the wind shift in the game.
Lake Hamilton would use most of the remaining 2nd quarter clock with a long sustained drive, but would see it end on an unsuccessful 4th down conversion attempt. The Bulldog offense would take over deep in their own territory with 51 seconds to go in the first half. Coach Chris Young and his offensive staff would draw up two consecutive run plays to senior Hunter Wilkinson that gave the impression they were content going into halftime. “Not so fast my friend” as the great Lee Corso might say. Richmond would drop back with less than 20 seconds on the clock and heave a dime of a pass to Luke Brewer streaking down the sideline. Brewer, quite literally, out ran his defender and Richmond hit him in stride. Brewer would take it all the way for the 71 yard touchdown. Coach Young said after the game that he “has complete confidence in my quarterback” and Richmond delivered on that confidence.
If allowing your opponent to score with seconds left in the half wasn’t bad enough, Lake Hamilton had to kick off to that Greenwood offense to start the 2nd half. Richmond and the offense didn’t miss a beat. On a drive that took just over 2 minutes, senior Hunter Wilkinson would take 3 straight handoffs for positive yards and capping it off with a 2-yard touchdown run.
With another defensive stand that saw senior Ty Cowan involved in 2 sacks that eventually led to a 4th and 29 for Lake Hamilton, the Bulldogs would bring the offense back on the field. Richmond and Wilkinson continued to expose the Lake Hamilton rush defense with 5 straight runs that Wilkinson completed with a 9-yard touchdown run with 2:52 left in the third quarter.
With the score starting to creep away from Lake Hamilton they couldn’t find an answer for this tenacious Bulldog defense. The Wolves would start their drive with decent field position but their effort would lose more yards than they would gain on a 4 play -15 yard drive.
Starting the 4th quarter, the Greenwood Bulldogs would have the ball and up 35-10 but would eventually punt it away to Lake Hamilton on a 4th and 3 in perhaps a show of mercy. Lake Hamilton would take advantage and try and seize momentum with an 8 play 83 yard drive to bring the score to 35-17.
With time running out and momentum slowing down for Greenwood, the Wolves would try and convert an on-side kick. Greenwood put their best hands on the field in preparation. Lake Hamilton opted to kick the ball deep in an attempt to force an error or perhaps beat Greenwood down the field. Senior Jayden Jasna decided to enter the record books instead. Jasna would gather the ball on the 2 yard line and “wow” the fans with a 98-yard touchdown return. The longest ever in an Arkansas State Championship game.
After Lake Hamilton threw one final punch to notch the score at 42-24, the Bulldogs would put together a sustained drive of 10 plays that mostly consisted of rushing attempts by Wilkinson and Richmond. Wilkinson would find the end zone for the 3rd time on a 9-yard touchdown run to seal the game for good at 49-24.
Richmond would be named MVP of the Arkansas 6A State Championship Game and went 11/14 for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 90 yards. Senior running back Hunter Wilkinson had yet another impressive outing with 25 carries for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns. With his 3 touchdowns, Wilkinson eclipsed former Bulldog and University of Arkansas great Drew Morgan for most touchdowns scored in program history.
The Greenwood Bulldogs complete the perfect season and finish 14-0 in Coach Chris Young’s first season as head coach.