Getting long in the tooth, gray/white in the hair, and wrinkly on the face reminds me in the mirror everyday that I am not a spring chicken anymore. Of course, I don't even remember back when or if I ever was a spring chicken, and I am not even sure if that was/is even something to which to aspire.
Anyhow, I have met some nice folks from other communities over the long years, with these past four games being some of the better experiences I have had in the press box. I have been writing sports for a long time, and the writer visiting here from Maumelle, Jim Ashley, was an alum from Harding University and we had several friends in common so we talked a lot. During our conversation, he asked me just how long I had been writing sports.
I had never given it that much thought (or any thought for that matter) and so during the halftime break, I figured it out. I began writing for the Grizzly Gazette in 1969 (Monett, Mo., student newspaper) as that was the first season I could drive a car to the games. This means that I have been writing sports stories for FIFTY Years! I used to think just being 50 was old, which, incidentally, is what my students think right now.
When I applied for admission to Harding upon my high school graduation in 1971, I filled out and submitted a questionnaire inquiring into what activities I was involved in as a high school student. I was later approached by students who ran the Harding Bison student newspaper who extended an invitation to me to write for them. Thus, I began the second phase of my journalistic journey.
The Sports Information Director at Harding (Stan Green) contacted me a year after I began being published in the Bison with a job offer to write for the university, offering to actually pay me. Being a typical college student (needing money) and with the deal sweetened with free food on sports trips, I was all in. While on the university payroll, I did sports writing, brochure design, photography (when it was a whole other animal) and editing.
This experience led me to write for a number of small daily and weekly papers from the 1970s 'til the present day. I was a stringer for the old Arkansas Gazette before it folded and was absorbed by the Arkansas Democrat. I wrote pieces for the Benton County Democrat before it was expanded, renamed, sold, then buried by the folks who own the Gazette-Democrat.
I began to write a little for The TIMES here in the late '90s, and did more when Becky Tyson started running the paper. When Annette Beard took over the helm, I was even more involved with writing local sports.
Now I draw the same pay with The TIMES that I did with the Grizzly Gazette. While writing youth sports can be time consuming, it is rewarding and even fun at times. Having had most of the present day Pea Ridge athletes in my art room as elementary students, it is great to see how they have matured.
Speaking of students, I met a college student who was working for the Gazette who was doing his first sports writing at the Farmington game. He was me back in 1974. He was very inquisitive and I helped him identify the Blackhawk players, providing him a little background information as well.
Last week, I sat in the Lincoln press box with Randy Magar, a First Baptist minister who was the announcer and had the only room for a visiting reporter to sit in. We had some good conversations, once referring to Lance Nunley's grandmother who attended his church and who was sitting on the Pea Ridge side even though she was from Lincoln.
Mr. Magar told me about the balloon release they were going to do before kickoff for those who had lost loved ones to cancer. I obtained one of the said balloons, wrote my late daughter's name on it (Lora) and released it when the rest of the crowd did. This unexpected activity meant something to me and I deeply appreciate the Lincoln folks for recognizing the scourge that cancer places on society.
I have had a lot of great experiences in the role of sports reporter over the years, but the major reason I still do this is so that the kids have something to cut out for their scrap books. We are lucky in Pea Ridge to have a venue like The TIMES that can publish the athletic exploits of the students here to a degree not available to very many other schools and communities in the state.
None of us are kids very long (my wife might dispute that) and the best things we bring forward in our lives are the memories. It is nice to have some of them typed up, printed, cut out and glued into something to remember.
The Gravette Lions
The 2-3 Gravette Lions will be in town this week for a conference game.
The Lions have beaten Jay, Okla., and Lincoln by 34-13 and 34-14 counts, respectively. Their losses were to Tulsa Cascia Hall 38-6, Farmington 49-19 and Prairie Grove 48-7. There was a report in MaxPreps for awhile that the Tigers had beaten the Lions 93-7 in overtime. It wasn't true.
Their quarterback Cy Hilger leads the team with 913 passing yards, second most in the conference. Hilger is not much of a risk to run, as he averages less than 2 yards a carry, but he can throw the football. Chace Austin is the leading ball carrier for Gravette, having gained 249 yards at 6.6 yards per carry average.
Mason Dagley is the leading pass receiver, having caught 26 passes for 351 yards. Austin and Ian Drake have caught 12 or more passes this season, providing Hilger with two other targets.
Their three top defenders are Lane Wilkins, Trenten Durham and Isaac Dann who have recorded 34, 37 and 39 tackles, respectively. Against Prairie Grove, the Lions piled up 175 yards in passing but managed only 73 yards rushing.
I think the 'Hawks' defense will have success shutting down the run and if they can limit the damage what Hilger can do through the air, the Ridge boys ought to be able to log in their third conference win. After two games, the 'Hawks' rushing defense has allowed almost no positive yards in rushing.
4A-1 Conference football
Pea Ridge's 55-21 win over Lincoln, Prairie Grove's 48-7 victory against Gravette and Shiloh's 58-0 drilling of Green Forest kept the aforementioned teams tied atop the 4A-1 with 2-0 records. Gravette's loss to the Tigers dropped them into a two-way tie for fourth with Gentry who bashed Berryville 40-14. Green Forest, Berryville and Lincoln are still looking for their first win in conference play.
This Friday, beside the 'Hawks' home game with Gravette, Berryville hosts Lincoln, Prairie Grove will be at home with Shiloh, and Gentry will travel to Green Forest. Prediction: After Friday, the 'Hawks and Shiloh will be alone atop the 4A-1 and Gentry will be tied for third with Prairie Grove at 2-1.
1. Pea Ridge^2-0
football stat leaders
1. Brandon Atwood, Gentry, 472 yds
2. Samuel Beard, Pea Ridge, 461
3. Tate Busey, Pea Ridge, 233
1. Eli Reece, Shiloh, 943
4. Tate Busey, Pea Ridge, 469
1. Zarnagan, Gentry, 379
5. Trevor Blair, Pea Ridge, 261
1. Keaton Carter, Shiloh, 14
2. Luis Reyes, Pea Ridge, 13
1. Brandon Atwood, Gentry, 50
4. Samuel Beard, Pea Ridge, 42
1. Truitt Tollett, Shiloh, 8
2. Samuel Beard, Pea Ridge, 7
1. Mazon Harris, Pea Ridge, 4
1. John Roses and Joe Adams, Pea Ridge, 2
^Zac Jarnagan, Gentry, 2
1. Luis Reyes, Pea Ridge, 47.0 per kick
1. Tate Busey, Pea Ridge, 39.5 per kick
MaxPrep/CBS 4A State football poll
*Current statewide MaxPreps rankings
The Blackhawks jumped up five spots in the poll after their convincing win over Lincoln last week. Prairie Grove moved up 12 spots with Gentry rising five. The state's biggest loser was Southside Batesville who dropped 10 spots to No. 29 when they were crushed by Riverview last week. The 4A's biggest gainer was Malvern who improved 13 places to No. 17 after upsetting Harmony Grove last week in the tough 7-4A.
The second- through fourth-ranked teams remained the same with Nashville, Arkadelphia and Robinson in that order. Nashville beat Arkadelphia by 1 point two weeks ago with Arkadelphia besting Robinson by 1 point last week. This week Nashville plays Robinson, so the big three of the 4A-7 conference will have played each other in the first half of the league schedule. Should Robinson beat Nashville by 1, well, there may be a real problem determining who wins the district title.
Another big game this Friday will be the Ozark/Dardanelle game to be played at Sand Lizard Stadium. Dardanelle is a sight favorite, ranked No. 5 in the state with Ozark ranked No. 6. Personally, I think Ozark will run over the Lizards to take control of the 4A-4. With the way the playoffs are structured, Pea Ridge could be playing the 4A-4 champion if they can make the later rounds.
7. West Helena^5-0^+1
8. Pea Ridge^2-3^+5
15. Harmony Grv^3-2^-3
23. Star City^3-2^-6
24. Prairie Grove^2-3^+12
28. Heber Springs^1-4^+6
29. SS Batesville^3-2^-10
35. Bald Knob^1-4^+4
37. Fountain Lake^1-4^--
39. Central Ark^2-3^-8
46. Green Forest^2-3^+1
47. Cave City^0-5^-1
4A-1 Volleyball standings
4. Pea Ridge^5-3
6. Prairie Grove^3-5
State volleyball rankings
1. Valley View^24-1
10. Batesville Southside^10-8
12. Pea Ridge^10-8
16. Prairie Grove^8-6
23. Heber Springs^7-12
33. Forrest City^1-8
Editor's note: John McGee, an award-winning columnist, sports writer and art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. He can be contacted through The Times at email@example.com.Sports on 10/09/2019
Print Headline: Fifty years of writing