By Chase Hartsell
Heading into their 2021 matchup, Arkadelphia had not defeated Nashville since 2017. On Friday night, the Badgers (2-2, 1-0) ended that streak with a statement-making 42-14 victory over the Scrappers (2-2, 0-1) at Badger Stadium.
In a matchup that served as both teams’ conference openers, the Badgers recovered an opening onside kick and marched down the field to take an early 7-0 lead. It was a lead that they would never give up. The Badgers scored an additional 35 unanswered points over the first three quarters, with the Scrappers finally breaking through with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Jaishon Davis carried over his success from the final two games of the non-conference schedule to provide another impressive performance against Nashville. The senior running back posted 157 rushing yards on just 14 attempts for three touchdowns, with the final of those three scores coming on a run that saw him outrace the Scrappers secondary for a 78-yard touchdown. Additionally, Davis hauled in a 49-yard pass from junior quarterback Donovan Whitten, setting up another score for Arkadelphia. Friday night’s game marked Davis’ third straight game with over 100 rushing yards, and it also marked his second straight performance of over 200 total yards.
Junior cornerback and wide receiver Latonnieo Hughes shined on both sides of the ball, finishing the night with two receiving touchdowns and an interception. His touchdown catch came on 41-yard deep ball from Whitten, with Hughes defeating his man in coverage to secure the score. Hughes recorded his second score on a 46-yard jet sweep toss from Whitten midway through the third quarter. He ended the game with 117 receiving yards on three catches.
On a night that saw him attempt just 15 passes, Whitten made most of his attacks through the air. The junior quarterback eclipsed 200 passing yards and collected three touchdowns before handing over the reins to sophomore Cade McBride midway through the third quarter.
Though he only tallied one catch over the course of the contest, senior Alex Loy made his sole reception count as he hauled in a 4-yard pass from Whitten for a touchdown with 9:07 remaining in the second quarter. Fellow senior Braylon Bailey contributed with a substantial 32-yard reception.
Facing an offense that had scored no less than 35 points in both of their two previous contests, Arkadelphia’s defense provided their greatest performance of the season thus far. The Badgers held the Scrappers scoreless through three quarters, ultimately allowing a season-low 14 points by the final whistle. The Badgers’ secondary had a particularly excellent performance, giving Scrapper quarterbacks Ethan Gunter and Slade Slayton few options in the passing game. In addition to Hughes’ interception, senior Alex Turley and junior Marveon Barry provided consistently excellent coverage and crucial open-field tackles. Up front, junior Max Wilson, senior Landon Kuhn, and sophomore KD Young led a staunch Arkadelphia defensive line that provided additional pressure and made lengthy runs hard to come by for Nashville.
Following the victory, Arkadelphia head coach Trey Schucker spoke about his team’s excitement of getting to play at Badger Stadium and picking up a rivalry win in front of the Badger faithful.
“It was awesome. It’s been a few weeks since we got to play in front of our home crowd. It was great to get to open up conference play here at the house against Nashville. What [more] can you ask for? Our kids played at a high level. We executed plays; the offense and defense played really well. It was just a fun night overall. [I’m] very happy for our kids,” Schucker said in a postgame interview.
With the loss, Nashville falls to 0-1 in conference play and 2-2 overall. Next week, they will continue to search for their first conference win as they host Fountain Lake.
Following their win in the conference opener, the Badgers improve to 1-0 in conference play and 2-2 overall. Next Friday, Arkadelphia will face their first conference road test as they travel to Joe T. Robinson in a matchup that is likely to have major playoff implications. The Senators (3-1, 1-0), fresh off of a 48-25 victory at Fountain Lake, will be looking to remain undefeated in conference play as they seek a fifth-straight 7-4A title. Kickoff for the Badgers-Senators showdown is set for October 1 at 7 p.m., with the game being available to livestream at arkadelphiabadgertv.com.