Playoff hopes dashed for Cats after conference loss to Gentry
GENTRY -- Berryville dropped it's fifth consecutive 1-4A Conference game Friday night at Gentry, falling 34-12 to the Pioneers in what has been a season of homecoming dates for the Bobcats.
Gentry (5-3, 3-2 in 1-4A) overcame three turnovers to obtain the win as the Bobcats (2-6, 0-5) struggled inside the red zone with costly penalties and turnovers.
"We moved the ball up and down the field very well," Berryville coach Lee Atkins said. "But we continue to make mistakes when we get in the red zone and have trouble scoring."
That has been the story all season long as Berryville has averaged 16 points per game, that number inflated due to a 50-6 win over Marshall in Week 1. The only time the Cats have scored more than twice was in a 21-20 win over rival Green Forest in the Carroll County Super Bowl on Sept. 20.
Austin Carr led the Berryville offense with 99 rushing yards on 16 carries while Ethan Chapin added 92 yards on 17 carries as the Cats racked up 225 yards on the ground.
"Austin played his best game of the season," Atkins said. "He ran the ball well and he threw the ball well despite his passing numbers. He has several balls that were dropped that he put right in the receivers hands."
Carr was 3-of-19 in the passing department for 32 yards and an interception. His 99 yards on the ground made up for the Cats missing sophomore Emilio Duarte and junior Garrett Stone from the offensive scheme. Duarte and Stone were both injured during the Farmington game two weeks ago. Duarte has seen limited action since then while Stone has been relegated to defense.
"I look for Emilio to be back to near 100 percent this week," Atkins said. "He played a very limited role in Friday night's contest due to a nagging ankle injury he suffered in the Farmington game. Garrett should also be much improved from his injury this week. We will need an all out team effort to finish the season 4-6. But it is certainly possible if we play as a team and remain focused on the task at hand."
Atkins' main focus this year was to rebuild a program that had fallen on hard times, winning just three games in the past three years. Expectations were high at the beginning of the season as the Bobcats won two of their first three outings. The Cats were also competitive in their first two conference games, albeit two losses to Ozark and Lincoln by identical 28-13 scores. The Cats also showed improvement in a 20-3 loss to Farmington before being manhandled by Prairie Grove in Week 6 prior to Friday's loss at Gentry.
A win at Gentry would have kept playoff hopes alive in Bobcat country. Now all that remains for Bobcat faithful is hopes of winning the final two games and prepping for next year.
"All of our focus now is on the remaining two games of the season," Atkins said. "We are not looking back or being reflective at this point in time and we are not looking, as of yet, to the 2014 football program. There will be time for that in the coming weeks."
Tate Ferguson led the defensive unit with nine tackles, Blake McCullough and Justin King tallied eight each, Brett Sooter finished with seven, Jerry Valdez added six and Kraig Kendrick contributed with five. McCullough caused two fumbles and recovered one, Valdez caused a fumble and Kendrick and Jake Parks recovered one each.
Atkins said the Cats have the talent to finish strong with a couple of wins. It comes down to the mentality of the players.
"We must have two great offensive games and a solid defensive game to bring home the two wins available to us," he said. "Gravette is a lot like us in many ways but I don't think they have an Ethan Chapin or a Blake McCullough on their team. We are going to put the ball in the hands of our playmakers and expect them to do just that...make plays."