The Sylvan Hills Bears are getting some attention, and rightly so.
The Bears held on after a late fury by the Hot Springs Lakeside Rams to win 45-41 in Friday’s home opener.
Coach Jim Withrow finds himself surprising the state.
“Apparently so,” Withrow said of his team’s new found fame.
The surprise isn’t due to the lack of talent. Marlon Clemmons who rushed for more than 100 yards including a 52-yard touchdown run and also had more than 100 yards receiving as well as Nathan Thomas are making plays for talented junior quarterback in Tra Doss.
But the perceived weakness has always been up front. Withrow credits not only the coaching of Denny Tipton, but the play of his linemen.
“He’s done such a fabulous job with those guys up front,” Withrow said of Tipton. “They’ve come through every time.’
Dakota Daulton and Matt Thompson have been hurt. Thompson’s quad and Daulton’s hip has kept them at less than full speed.
But it also helps to have talent behind that line, and Withrow acknowledged as much.
“It helps to have Tra back there,” Withrow said. “He can make a lot look good.”
Withrow called Clemmons “fantastic” for his performance thus far in the season and said the play of Elijah Sowards in the first half was big in Friday’s win.
“We went to him quite a bit in the second quarter,” Withrow said.
Withrow gave his defense credit as well, even though the numbers on paper may not reflect a good defensive performance.
“I know it’s crazy, though we gave up 41,” Withrow said, “but our defense made a lot of plays.”
The Rams made a late push in the fourth quarter scoring a pair of touchdowns in the last five minutes after Sylvan Hills failed to run clock.
An onside kick recovery with two minutes to go and one final first down sealed the four-point win.
Withrow said Lakeside likes to play a little bit of a “jailbreak” style of defense.
“They bring all of their safeties up, and dare you to beat them deep,” Withrow said. “They play that style and aren’t afraid to give up a lot of points to do it.”
Up next is the team’s second road trip of the season to Newport. The Greyhounds are 2-0 as well after a 42-7 win over Bald Knob.
“They are a good team,” Withrow said. “We are going to treat this like a playoff game. Long trip, good team.”
Newport’s Tyler Asher had four takeaways including an interception and three fumble recoveries, one of which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown. Gunnar Bullard threw for 206 yards and two scores including a 73-yard play to running back Kristen Crite early in the first quarter.
Crite also had scoring runs of 36 and 27 yards.