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Bulldogs named to MaxPreps Tour of Champions

Bulldogs named to MaxPreps Tour of Champions


By Richard White


The national high school sports information service MaxPreps recently announced that the 2017 Greenwood Bulldogs state championship football team has officially been named to the 13th annual MaxPreps Tour of Champions, presented by the Army National Guard

GHS team members and coaches were honored last Friday night at H.B. Stewart Arena during halftime of the girls’ basketball game with Farmington. The Bulldogs have reached the 6A state title game in each of the last three seasons, finally winning it all last December, defeating Pine Bluff, 52-14.

According to MaxPreps, this honor is one of the most prestigious team awards in all of high school sports, and it’s an exclusive award reserved for the top teams nationwide.

To be eligible, a team must win a state championship and be highly ranked in the MaxPreps national rankings. In football, only 50 of the country’s best teams are chosen, and with almost 17,000 varsity teams nationwide, it puts the Bulldogs ahead of more than 99% of their opponents.

Beating Pine Bluff in the 6A title game marked the completion of an incredible 13-0 perfect season and earned the Bulldogs inclusion in the Tour of Champions. Since 2015, Greenwood has compiled an overall mark of 37-2, with both losses coming in the 2015 and 2016 championship games.

Last December, Pine Bluff scored first, but the Bulldogs allowed the Zebras to nurture false hope for only a short time. Moments later, senior running back Kenny Wood scored on a 73-yard burst on Greenwood’s first offensive play, then added another touchdown later in the first quarter to help the Bulldogs build an early lead of 17-7, then 31-14 at halftime.

Greenwood tacked on three second half scores to secure its eighth state football championship, the fourth highest number in Arkansas high school history, and its first title since 2012. The Bulldogs have secured all eight of their titles since 2000, with the last seven under Head Coach Rick Jones.

In the game, University of Arkansas football signee Connor Noland completed 20 of 27 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. The senior quarterback threw two scoring strikes to junior receiver Peyton Holt, who caught 14 balls for 200 yards in the contest.

Senior receiver Kade Orlicek and Wood each scored a touchdown by air and combined for three catches for 72 yards. Wood added 104 yards on the ground on 11 carries, while senior Jackson Webb ran the ball five times for 49 yards and added the other rushing touchdown.

Senior linebacker Nick Vota and junior linebacker Travis Cox led the defense with 16 and 12 stops, respectively, while Vota, junior Trey Woods, and junior Aaron Ohl each picked off a Pine Bluff pass.

Greenwood opened the playoffs in November with a first-round bye. Then after a 38-0 shutout win over the Texarkana Razorbacks, the Bulldogs upended the West Memphis Blue Devils, 45-14, to set up the championship bout with Pine Bluff.

Following a 34-7 win over Fort Smith Northside to open the regular season, the Rick Jones led Bulldogs reeled off 12 more wins to end the season with an unbeaten record and the 6A championship.

The Bulldogs outscored their opponents 570-148 and posted four shutouts on the year. The GHS defense also held eight foes to 14 points or less during the season.

After completing their title run, the Bulldogs found themselves not only ranked #1 in Class 6A in Arkansas, but also the #2 team overall in the state, according to MaxPreps, behind only North Little Rock, the Class 7A state champion. Nationwide, MaxPreps ranked the Bulldogs #14 with NLR at #7.

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