Recent times have been historic for the Bryant Hornets football program. With the first state title coming last year, tonight Bryant has a chance to rewrite the history books again — finish undefeated in conference action.
Coming in at 9-0 overall and 6-0 in 7A Central play, the Hornets have won 13 straight and look to take down Conway (7-2, 5-1) on the road in Week 10.
“It is a big game for both programs,” said Head Coach Buck James. “Coach (Keith) Fimple just started that program two years ago and we have been here for four years. He is already playing for a conference championship. It is a big game and it is their senior night.
“I think if you go 9-1 everybody is going to wonder who beat you. They aren’t going to care about the nine games you won. That’s what we have been preaching to our kids all week. We have to finish the race.”
Bryant has not won a conference title since 2013. Even with a loss tonight, the Hornets would be co-champions, but would lose the No. 1 seeding in the 7A playoffs.
Conway is riding a four-game winning streak with its most recent victory coming against Little Rock Catholic in Week 9.
For Bryant, it faced its toughest opponent to date last week, defeating North Little Rock 35-21 at home — the first non-mercy rule game of the season for the Hornets.
The Wampus Cats fell victim to NLR on Oct. 4, losing 17-7 on the road.
Two seasons ago, Bryant fell behind big early against Conway, but overcame the struggles in the second half to win and earn a first-round bye and No. 2 seed.
James said he hopes his team has worked hard enough to avoid a repeat of that this time around.
“We hope we took care of that this week in practice,” James said. “We hope our practice reps and tempo will carry over to the game field. But we are dealing with 16- to 18-year-old kids. Anything could happen. I hope our kids are ready and we think we are ready. We practice like we are ready and I anticipate our guys going out there playing hard.
“I don’t know if there is a magic formula or secret potion that you can spread out over young men to be able to get them to do what they are supposed to do exactly how they are supposed to do it every Friday night, but these guys have done a great job of preparing themselves all year and understanding the expectations they’ve got for themselves and what our staff has.”
Senior quarterback Nick McCuin leads the Cats under center, throwing for 1,445 yards and 10 touchdowns on 100 of 192 completions.
He also has been picked off 10 times in 2019.
On the ground, sophomore Manny Smith helps with a team-high 609 yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 61 carries.
Against Catholic in Week 9, Smith rushed over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time, going for 102 and two scores on 14 touches in the win.
Junior Jamaal Bethune follows with 484 yards and three scores on 76 touches for Conway.
Defensively, senior Reed Hughes has played a huge role for the Cats, leading the team with 127 total tackles, with 86 coming via solo variety. He is averaging 14.1 tackles per game.
On the year, he has dropped 10 opponents for loss while getting to the quarterback once and forcing a fumble and interception each as well.
Senior Terrian Harris targets the opposing quarterbacks, having collected 15 sacks on the year.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Conway