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Greenwood runs past Lake Hamilton for 6A football title



Greenwood and head coach Chris Young made history Saturday with a 49-24 win over Lake Hamilton in the Class 6A Arkansas high school football state championship game at War Memorial Stadium.

“I’m just really proud of our kids,” Young said. “We have a great group of young men, and they’ve had a tough year, and they have earned every bit of this. It was great seeing the guys celebrate and smile and be back to normal for a minute is awesome.”

The Bulldogs (14-0) won their 10th state title and Young, a former longtime assistant, became the first first-year head coach since 2013 to go undefeated. Doug Kendrick led Charleston to an undefeated Class 3A championship that year.

Young and his father, Joe Fred Young, who was a legendary coach at Fort Smith Northside, are the fourth father-son duo to win state titles.

“That’s pretty cool,” said Young. “I’m really proud of the things my dad did and the reputation he has. To be able to share this with him is very special.”

Young took over for legendary Bulldogs coach Rick Jones, who left in the offseason to become a consultant at the University of Missouri. Jones won eight championships at Greenwood, but Jones didn’t miss a beat with the promotion.

“They’re a lot the same guy,” Bulldogs senior quarterback L.D. Richmond said. “Rick Jones has the old-man smarts. Coach Young knows how to connect with the younger guys better. He knows how to use his words better with us. He is a great guy and great coach.”

Lake Hamilton (11-2) scored on its first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead into the second quarter, but Greenwood took control after that, scoring the next 35 points. The Wolves didn’t score again until the fourth quarter, when running back Tevin Woodley ran 10 yards to cut the lead to 35-17.

“We didn’t play up to our ability and made some mistakes early, and we couldn’t overcome them,” Lake Hamilton coach Tommy Gilleran said.

“Our kids played hard all year, but in a big game like this, we have to make more plays than they did, and they made more than us.”

Richmond was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, finishing 11 of 14 for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Classmate Hunter Wilkinson was impactful, especially in the second half, rushing for 148 yards on 25 attempts with three touchdowns.

Greenwood led 21-10 at halftime and put the game out of reach with two third-quarter drives. Wilkinson capped both drives with short touchdowns, and the Bulldogs held a commanding 35-10 advantage at the end of the period.

Greenwood’s Jayden Jasna put his name in the record books in the fourth quarter with a state playoff-record 98-yard kickoff-return touchdown. The previous long was 95 yards set in 1946.

The Bulldogs took a 14-10 lead when Richmond connected with Luke Brewer on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 to play in the second quarter.

Greenwood made a big defensive stand late in the first half, which led to another score. Lake Hamilton faced a third-and-three deep in Bulldogs territory, but a pass from Owen Miller was off the mark in the end zone, giving Greenwood a little more than 50 seconds to work before halftime.

A few plays later, Richmond fired his third touchdown pass — this one a 71-yard bomb down the right sideline to Brewer to extend the lead to 21-10 with seven seconds left in the half.

“Yeah, I tell you I have complete confidence in (Richmond),” Young said. “I can’t be more proud of that young man. A lot of teams will get the ball on the 20-yard line with 52 seconds left in the half (and) will take a knee, but not us. (Richmond) made a great throw and (Brewer) got loose down the sideline, and that was the difference in the ballgame … They missed a pass in the end zone, and then we came back and made that play.”

The Wolves struck first when kicker Alex Hurtz drilled a 37-yard field goal to cap a six-play, 48-yard drive. On the ensuing kickoff, Lake Hamilton’s Trent Singleton jarred the ball loose from Jasna and Jamarrion Byrd recovered the fumble and returned it seven yards to the 14-yard line.

Two plays later, Wolves quarterback Grant Bearden hit a wide-open Miller in the end zone to extend the lead to 10-0 with 8:04 to play in the first quarter.

Lake Hamilton forced a Bulldogs punt and was on the move again when Greenwood’s Parker Gill sacked Miller and stopped the Wolves’ scoring threat, which seemed to swing the momentum in Greenwood’ favor.

“It didn’t start very good, getting down 10-0, but our kids fought and never gave up and didn’t even flinch and had complete confidence in themselves to come back after that start,” Young said.

“I was really, really proud of our kids.”

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