Photo: Richey Miller, clearchoicephoto.com
Through five games, Bulldogs fans have to like where Fayetteville is standing.
With their motto of “Win each play, improve everyday,” Daryl Patton’s 11th Fayetteville squad is on course for another fine season. The Bulldogs remain undefeated five weeks into the season, which only one other Class 7A squad Cabot can claim, and true to their goal, the Bulldogs have made steady improvement week by week.
A critic might note that the Bulldogs’ schedule hasn’t been filled with powerhouses this season with out-of-state opponents Jefferson City, Mo., and Muskogee, Okla., not having the best of seasons, but the simple fact is Fayetteville players have found it within themselves to rise to meet the challenge they have faced each week and won.
There is a winning, can-do attitude in the Bulldog camp that serves them well. Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton and his staff foster a positive attitude that generates confidence among the Bulldogs but not cockiness.
Certainly corrections are made in the film room and on the practice field, but Patton doesn’t dote on the negatives. He keeps the energy high, and his Bulldogs’ attention focused on the play at hand, rather than looking down the road or back at last week.
That methodology has not only kept the Bulldogs improving but also winning, which doesn’t always go hand in hand with inexperienced football teams. Fayetteville has played through mistakes and still made enough plays to overcome each team they’ve played.
That’s invaluable for a coaching staff because it gives them teaching points without having to wade thought the doubt that losing always brings. This week the focus turns to Rogers Heritage (3-2, 1-1), where the Bulldogs travel this Friday. The Bulldogs have played well on the road this season, just as they have the past two seasons under Patton.
Hootens.com ranks the Bulldogs No. 5 in Class 7A and Heritage No. 7, with the site favoring Fayetteville by 11 points.
Coming out of the Battle of the Bulldogs, which was a closer game much of the night than the 38-14 final margin portrays, Fayetteville is not at full strength. Patton will likely make game-time decisions on whether running back Brayden Cook and linebacker/running back Terrell Tyson will play.
While Fayetteville’s running game could be in a state of flux if Cook and Tyson can’t play, quarterback Mitch Marshall and receivers led by Jordan Dennis and C.J. McGrady are having outstanding seasons.
Marshall has completed 63 of 105 passes against just one interception for a 60 percent completion rate. He’s thrown for 1,126 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Dennis has caught 21 passes for 342 yards and five touchdowns, while O’Grady has 18 catches for 402 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Despite battling a reoccurring knee, injury Cook is averaging just under 100 yards a game with 494 yards and two touchdowns on 82 carries.
Kicker Cal Conway has also been a big weapon for Fayetteville, connecting on all six of his field goals with a long of 46 yards and all 10 of his PATs. Jon Fagg is also spotless on PATs, hitting all 13.
Fagg, who can punt traditionally and rugby style, and Marshall were particularly effective in keeping Springdale’s back to their end zone last week with their punts.
Defensively, the Bulldogs aren’t dominating, but they are a pesky, fast and opportunistic group. Dre Greenlaw has scored three defensive touchdowns with an interception return and two fumble returns for scores this season. Linebacker Tommy Coker and corner back Jase Hornibrook are also playmakers for Fayetteville.
The Bulldog coaching staff named Coker the Bulldog Player of the Week against Springdale and honored Cook as outstanding offensive back, Jase Rapert as outstanding offensive lineman, Ramsey Jones as outstanding wide receiver, Mitch Marshall as offensive most valuable player, Damani Carter as outstanding defensive lineman, Coker as outstanding linebacker, Greenlaw as outstanding defensive back, the entire defense was named defensive MVP, the Hammer Award was shared by Coker and Greenlaw.
7A/6A-West Conference Standings
2013 FHS Football Schedule
Sept. 2 Fayetteville 35, Warren 21 at Razorback Stadium
Sept. 13 Fayetteville 34, Jeff City 24
Sept. 20 Fayetteville 27, Muskogee 22 at Muskogee
Sept. 27 Fayetteville 45, Van Buren 21 at Van Buren
Oct. 4 Fayetteville 38, Springdale 14
Oct. 11 at Rogers Heritage, 7:30. p.m.
Oct. 18 Rogers, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Siloam Springs, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1 at Har-Ber, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 at Bentonville, 7:30 p.m.