Kane Archer made the Greenwood senior class one promise this summer.
He wasn't going to promise them the world or a record-breaking offense or to somehow rewrite history and change the result of what happened last year. What he did promise them was a trip back to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, this time with a trophy celebration at the end.
Friday night, he made good on that promise as Greenwood defeated Little Rock Christian 41-23 in the Class 6A state championship game.
"That's what we did tonight, played for those seniors every play," Archer said.
Archer gave Greenwood (13-0) an early lead with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Grant Karnes on its first drive, and then his 1-yard touchdown run made it 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Little Rock Christian (10-3) responded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Walker White to Cade Bowman, but Archer hit right back with a 24-yard catch-and-run touchdown to Isaiah Arrington. Greyson Hoover made a 30-yard field goal as the first half expired to make it 21-9 Bulldogs at the break.
In the second half, Greenwood used the size of its offensive line to lean on a smaller Little Rock Christian front. The Bulldogs ran 75 plays for 438 yards on offense. They held the ball for 30:05, including 16:42 in the second half.
"We knew we were gonna have to run the ball," Greenwood Coach Chris Young said. "We talked about it all week, they're gonna play a light box, they're a little bit undersized on the defensive line and they're really skilled in the secondary.
"So we knew we were gonna have to run the ball to be successful. [We] struggled a bit early on with it, and then I'll tell you what, in the third and fourth quarter, we were really able to run it, and I think that turned the game."
In the second half, Archer rushed for 9 of his 16 attempts to gain 66 of his 95 yards and 1 touchdown.
"I went to coach and I was like, 'Trust me, I'll run the ball. I'll put my head down and I'll go do it for you. I want this. I want the game for these seniors,' " Archer said. "He trusted me, and that was the outcome."
Archer completed 22 of 29 passes for 187 yards and 2 touchdowns.
While the Greenwood offense stalled on its first two scoring drives of the second half, it left with six points thanks to a pair of Bodey Steinfeldt field goals to go ahead 27-9.
Little Rock Christian would respond with two four-quarter passing touchdowns by White, but Greenwood running back Brayedan Davis took over in the final 8 minutes with 73 yards and a touchdown.
He finished with 156 yards on 29 carries.
"How awesome was he in the fourth quarter?" Young exclaimed. "I'll tell you what, probably the most underrated kid in the state. ... He was huge tonight. I thought he won the game for us in the fourth quarter."
Davis nearly scored with less than 2 minutes remaining, but he was deemed 2 yards short after review. Archer scored on the next play to make it 41-23.
Friday's win capped the program's fourth undefeated season in the modern playoff era. Greenwood won its 11th state championship in that time, tying Pulaski Academy for the state lead. The Bulldogs trailed just twice this season, to Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian during the regular season.
"Our kids know what was at stake tonight because we've been on the other side the last two years and that's tough," Young said. "So our goal wasn't to get to the championship game, our goal was to win the state championship. And I think that was really, really important. You know, some teams would be happy just to get here, but we knew what our goal was."