About the only one who might be holding his breath tonight when the Arkansas City High School football team makes the trip to Wichita to take on state power Bishop Carroll in the Class 5A Week 9 playoff game is C.J. Jennings.
That’s because Jennings, the head coach of the ACHS boys basketball team, will watch his leading player, guard Cevin Clark, take the field as quarterback of the Bulldogs against the high-power Golden Eagles.
“When you watch them play, they are just really solid at every level,” ACHS head coach Braden Smith said. “I think we have seen some better offensive lines and defensive lines this year, Goddard especially. But what they lack for in size they play really hard.”
The only blemish on the schedule for the Class 5A No. 3-ranked Golden Eagles (7-1) is a 54-45 loss to Class 6A State power Derby in Week 5. Carroll wrapped up a perfect City League season last weekend with a 30-22 triumph against Kapaun Mount Carmel.
That game, which saw the Golden Eagles overcome a 12-0 first-quarter deficit, marked the 20th straight time that Carroll has defeated the Crusaders in head-to-head play.
“I’m sure all the experts are picking us to be big underdogs. We’re OK with that,” Smith said. “If this group has been consistent about anything this year, it’s we are going to give Carroll all they want of the Bulldogs and we are going to try and get it to the fourth quarter and give ourselves a chance to make a play to win it.”
Carroll quarterback Braden Howell is one of the top passers in the state, amassing 1,802 passing yards while completing 58.9 percent of his passes (113 of 192). He has thrown 15 touchdown passes and has been intercepted just five times. He also has 298 yards and three TD on 89 carries.
“Carroll has a lot of weapons,” Smith said. “Their QB is an elite passer in the state — I think he ranks second with close to 1,900 yards passing on the season. They have about six or seven skill players listed at about 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.”
Howell completed 10 of 25 passes for 169 yards last weekend against Kapaun. His 24-yard TD pass to Cade Becker on the first play of the fourth quarter gave the Golden Eagles a 27-22 lead they did not relinquish.
Howell also amassed 100 yards on 20 carries last week. Tailback Desmond Smith has 578 yards and eight TDs on 115 totes this season.
Howell’s favorite targets are Thomas Helten, who has 34 catches for 578 yards and five TDs, and Joseph Holthusen, who has 364 yards and five scores on 21 catches.
Ark City quarterback Cevin Clark threw for 223 yards last week in a 49-20 loss to Goddard-Eisenhower. Clark was 14-of-24 passing, with three interceptions, and carried the ball 18 times for 62 yards.
Junior Tryee Watkins was held to just 21 yards on 18 carries, but caught six passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.