6A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Greenwood’s defense sets tone in win over Little Rock Christian

Little Rock Christian running back Conner Smith (right) is brought down by Greenwood defensive back Josh Allen during Friday night’s game.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)
Little Rock Christian running back Conner Smith (right) is brought down by Greenwood defensive back Josh Allen during Friday night’s game. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Justin Cunningham)


Greenwood set the tone early with its defense on the way to winning the program's 11th state championship.

The Bulldogs stopped Little Rock Christian on its first two offensive possessions and forced two punts. The Greenwood offense took advantage of those stops and scored a pair of early touchdowns for an early 14-0 lead.

Greenwood then intercepted three passes in the second half to snuff out scoring opportunities in a 41-23 victory during the Class 6A state title game at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Friday night.

"Yeah, our defense is unbelievable," Greenwood Coach Chris Young said. "Jason Gill -- our defensive coordinator -- the preparation he does with our defensive staff, Coach [Josh] Holloway] our special teams coordinator, Coach [Stephen] Hogan, Coach [Hunter] Moreton. I tell you what, my coaches are unbelievable.

"I've got the best group of assistant coaches in America, and they prepared like crazy. Our kids knew what was coming at them. I mean Little Rock Christian, they're as talented as any team in the state. They've got weapons everywhere. To be able to get after them like we did defensively was huge."

Greenwood held Warriors quarterback Walker White to 2-of-8 passing for 28 yards in the first quarter, and the Bulldogs' defensive line wouldn't let him get comfortable.

Brenden Chick and Cash Archer combined for a sack of White in the second quarter and Zack Edwards had another sack for Greenwood. The Bulldogs limited the Warriors to 54 rushing yards on 17 carries in the first half.

"I think we have nine or 10 starters on defense who are seniors and we've been playing good all year," said junior Cash Archer, who finished with 3 tackles for loss and 1 1/2 sacks. "All I know is it's their last game and they just wanted to go all out. They wanted to leave nothing on the field."

He also said the team went back to its film against Little Rock Christian from a 56-39 victory on Nov. 3 and saw some errors to correct.

"We watch a lot of film," Archer said. "We didn't change the game plan at all. We just had to fix it."

After Greenwood's Bodey Steinfeldt kicked a field goal to go up 24-9 to open the second half, Landon Nelms got the Bulldogs' first interception of the game.

Little Rock Christian forced a turnover on downs at the Greenwood 44, but White was intercepted two plays later by Brady Mackey.

Caden Nelms added an interception late in the fourth quarter, which sealed the game and Greenwood went to victory formation on the next play.

"We needed to get in rhythm offensively early, and we just didn't do that until kind of late in the first half," Little Rock Christian Coach Eric Cohu said. "In the second half we were a little better offensively, but you just cannot lose the turnover battle. We turned the ball over too many times to beat a really good football team like Greenwood."


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