After three straight weeks of battling wide open offenses to open conference play, the Siloam Springs football team must gear up for a different challenge this week.
Undefeated Lake Hamilton, and its misdirection running game, visits at 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium for a 6A-West Conference game.
The Wolves (6-0, 3-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 6A by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and last year's state runner-up, have rushed for more than 1,800 yards in six games, an average of more than 300 yards on the ground per game.
"We're facing a team that's 85 percent run," said Siloam Springs coach Brandon Craig. "They're going to be very physical up front. They're Wing T-oriented. We can expect a very, very physical night from a defensive standpoint."
Senior Tevin Hughes leads the team with 646 yards on 87 carries (7.4 yards per carry), while junior Justin Crutchmer had 461 yards and junior Kendrick Martin has 449 yards.
Lake Hamilton left guard Chase Jessup (6-4, 282) is a Division I prospect who has committed to Arkansas State. He leads a talented Wolves offensive line.
"They're really big up front," Craig said. "They've got a D-I left guard (Jessup). They've got a running back that really got after us last year, so they've got a lot of kids back. They're very talented. They're 6-0 for a reason. It's going to be a tough game for us, but we're going to have to really grit it out."
Siloam Springs quarterback Hunter Talley rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the loss at Greenwood on Friday. He leads the team with 812 yards on 113 carries with 16 touchdowns. He's also completed 111 of 193 passes for 1,590 yards, 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Tight end Brendan Lashley has 44 catches for 612 yards and five touchdowns.
Lashley and junior Nick Driscoll each had interceptions defensively in the Greenwood game.
Siloam Springs got off to good starts in each of its last two games against Benton and Greenwood before being overwhelmed in the second quarter in both games -- 35-13 against Benton and 26-7 at Greenwood.
"You look at a few of our losses, we've actually had the lead in a couple of those games," Craig said. "We just haven't done a good job of playing in the middle of those games. In the second quarter, it was 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, and by the end of the second quarter we're down 33-10. It's one of those things where we have to eliminate some of the mistakes that we're making in the middle of the game to hold on and give ourselves a chance to win at the end."
The games between Lake Hamilton and Siloam Springs have been competitive since the two teams began playing in 2016. Lake Hamilton won a shootout 56-33 in 2016 and then edged the Panthers 34-27 in 2017.
Siloam Springs won at Lake Hamilton in Craig's first year 21-14 in 2018. Siloam Springs had a 17-7 halftime lead in 2019 only to lose 28-17. Last year, the Wolves won 42-19 in Pearcy.
Lake Hamilton at Siloam Springs
Kickoff^7 p.m. Friday
Records^Lake Hamilton, 6-0, 3-0 6A-West
^Siloam Springs, 1-5, 0-3 6A-West