Column: 'The Sports Trail': A wild and wacky weekend of sports has something for every area fan

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Green Forest's Courtney Ruff, No. 11, beat the Bergman Lady Panther defense for a layup during Tuesday's game as teammate Sarah Goins, No. 23, trailed the play in case a rebound was needed. David McNeal/Carroll County News

by David McNeal

This was a wild and wacky weekend, but a great one if you were a sports fan. All the college football teams we don't like got beat while the Razorbacks were demolishing that nasty-colored orange team, Tennessee, 31-14.

On Monday, sure enough, the pollsters almost got it right on the rankings. Arkansas was No. 5 in the Associated Press poll, No. 6 in the USA Today coaches' poll, and No. 7 in the BCS standings.

If the Hogs beat Mississippi State this week in Starkville, they will be SEC West Champs and will playing the SEC Championship game in Atlanta.

Beat those pesky Florida Gators, who barely scraped by South Carolina on two blocked scoring kicks, in Atlanta, and the University of Arkansas will be in line to play for a national title.

No, I haven't forgotten the Bengal Tigers of LSU that we play the day after Thanksgiving in Little Rock. How could I? Our daughter, Amy, married Bobby Ettinger of New Orleans. Yep, he's an LSU grad, and so are his three brothers.

Talk about a colorful Thanksgiving day, and I'm not talking about the turkey. Alice, Kerrie and I sport red, while the Ettingers are covered up in purple and gold.

This is an exciting time, one I've experienced before, back in the 60s. You remember, Texas-Arkansas, No. 1 vs. No. 2. Title on the line. Same feeling now, only more so.

And speaking of winning, the Berryville senior high girls basketball team got their first tournament win in three years after two years of bridesmaid finishes. Those seniors won the league regular schedule as ninth-graders, then won the district tournament.

It's the kind of early-season breakthrough that puts a smile on a coach's face. Yeah, Matt Carter is smiling, but it won't be easy this year. The Lady Bobcats made it to state last year, so will have a target on their backs all year long.

And while I'm running off, how about those running kids from Berryville and Eureka Springs? I've watched some of them working hard at this sport since they were in the sixth grade.

One example is Erika Wardlaw from Eureka. As a seventh-grader she did after school workouts with a number of people each day. Not at one time, with three of four different people who ran at different times. One day I counted and she ran more than seven miles one afternoon. She was looking forward to high school competition, but hurt a knee in ninth-grade basketball, and missed out on several years of sports.

This year, as a senior, she went to work and finished fifth at the state meet. That took a lot of dedication and stick-to-it, but it paid off. That kind of work also paid off for Callie Smith, a junior, who finished second overall and is going for it all next year.

While college football gets more exciting each week, it's over for our Carroll County teams. Berryville lost to a strong Fordyce team, and Green Forest lost to a physically strong Yellville-Summit squad.

Both teams exceeded expectations, which is a compliment to Bobcat coach Bobby Bishop, and Tiger coach Bill Gotto, and their staffs. They made it a great year, with lots of exciting plays for the fans. School spirit is high across the county, and why not? Basketball has already started. Oh my!

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