Siloam Springs takes its first road trip of the 2019 football season Friday, and the opponent -- Harrison -- couldn't be more formidable.
The Goblins (2-0), who were state-semifinalists a year ago, are ranked No. 2 in Class 5A and No. 10 in overall classifications by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Siloam Springs at Harrison
Kickoff^7 p.m. Friday
Where^F.S. Garrison Stadium
Radio^Siloam Springs High School Athletics on YouTube
Records^Siloam Springs, 1-1
"It's our first road trip. We're excited," said Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig. "Getting the opportunity to play a team that was in the semifinals last year, they've got a chance to go back again this year with the same kids they had last year. It's a great test for us."
The Goblins return the bulk of their team that went 12-1 in 2019, which included a dominating 42-7 mercy rule victory over Siloam Springs. Harrison won 10 of its 12 games by more than 30 points before running into Pulaski Academy and losing 75-54 in the Class 5A state semifinals.
Leading the Harrison attack is senior running back Gabe Huskey, who rushed for 2,150 yards and 33 touchdowns and caught 26 passes for 692 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. Huskey was named the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's 2018 Division I Player of the Year and was on the NWADG's Preseason team The List.
The Goblins also return quarterback Ben Johnson, who passed for 1,677 yards and 23 TDs and ran for 545 yards and eight touchdowns. Linebacker Brooks Both had a team-high 114 tackles and is another of several returning players.
Goblins coach Joel Wells was the NWADG's Coach of the Year for 2018.
Harrison opened the 2019 season with a 42-7 win at Pea Ridge and then a 42-10 victory at Mountain Home.
Huskey has already rushed for 231 yards on 18 carries with three touchdowns. Johnson has completed 10 of 14 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, while junior Cole Keylon has completed 10 of 11 passes for 154 yards.
"They have everybody back from last year, except for their nose guard (Hayden Vanderpool) that graduated," Craig said. "Everybody else is the same. Everything they're doing is the same. They're a good football program and they don't change things. They won 12 games last year, so they're trying to get themselves over the hump and then get to the state championship game. They've got the components to do it."
The Panthers meanwhile are coming off a 38-13 win at home against Pryor, Okla., last Friday night.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard," Craig said. "There were still some errors that we made that we're trying to clean up at every position. Overall our kids played with tremendous effort. They're trying to do everything we're asking them to do. Overall it was a good performance."
Taylor Pool completed 14 of 24 passes for 184 yards and rushed for 90 yards, while Jackson Norberg and Cam Collins combined to rush for 142 yards against Pryor.
Craig hopes the Panthers bring the same competitiveness to Harrison that they showed against Pryor.
"We want to compete on every down," he said. "Give ourselves an opportunity to be in it at the end and just have a chance. I feel like if our kids compete and get after it, we can stay in the game and have a chance to win at the end.
"I really like our team and I like what we bring to the table. I think our kids are going to be coached up and go out there and compete and give us a measuring stick."
NOTES: Harrison holds a 3-2 lead in the series against Harrison since the two teams resumed playing in 2014. Siloam Springs won 47-35 in 2014 and 16-0 in 2015, but the Goblins have reeled off three straight wins: 39-19 in 2016, 48-12 in 2017 and 42-7 in 2018.Sports on 09/11/2019
Print Headline: Panthers brace for No. 2 Gobs