Devils mauled by Bears
West Memphis drops pivotal game to Sylvan Hills on the road
By BILLY WOODS
WM School District
SHERWOOD — With a chance to win what could have been considered a swing game in conference play, the West Memphis Blue Devils watched as Sylvan Hills came out more fired up and focused in a 35-13 loss here Friday night.
Both teams came into the game with identical overall and 6A-East Conference records at 2-3 and 1-1, respectively, but Sylvan Hills jumped on the Blue Devils before they knew what hit them.
Coached by Chris Hill, who led Wynne to state-contender status a few years ago and who is in his first year heading up the Sylvan Hills program, the Bears rolled up 35 first-half points.
After a slow-moving ground attack against Searcy, which saw the Blue Devils (2-4 overall, 1-2 in the 6A-East) gain just 40 yards in the second half, the going wasn’t any better against Sylvan Hills.
Buoyed by seven plays for lost yardage, including three by more than 10 yards, West Memphis rushed for a mere 13 yards in the first half and combined with 15 yards passing, it gave the visitors just 28 net yards in the first two quarters.
“We never got in rhythm offensively,” said Blue Devil head coach Robert Hooks. “It’s like we lost our minds early. We didn’t make plays when we had an opportunity. We had a couple guys wide open, but didn’t get the ball to them.”
After a fruitless three-andout, which netted minus 9 yards, to start the game, the Blue Devil offense gave way to Sylvan Hills, which struck quickly and for big yardage off the bat.
Senior running back D.J. Smith scored a 5-yard touchdown with 9:16 to play in the first quarter to set the tone for the Bears.
From there, the Bears scored four more first-half touchdowns that went for 34, 55, 14 and 65 yards.
“We just didn’t play winning football tonight,” Hooks said, succinctly.
The Blue Devil offense debuted some wrinkle at quarterback two weeks earlier against Marion, and on Friday night it became more than a wrinkle.
Fleet-footed senior Caden Smith relieved junior starting quarterback Bryson Jenkins and gave the Blue Devils a jolt on offense in the second half. Smith threw an 8-yard touchdown pass with just 30 seconds left in the game to senior Jaylin Shephard.
West Memphis’ other touchdown came on a 79yard run by Dennis Dallas with 3:32 left in the third quarter.
“We’re still learning,” Hooks said. “We’ll take a look at the film on Sunday and evaluate. We’ll see how everything goes. We’re going to fight to give this team the best chance to win.”
The West Memphis Blue Devils took some hard hits in Friday night’s road loss to Sylvan Hills.
Photos by Billy Woods