Under first-year coach Randy Sandefur, North Little Rock achieved one of its its goals, making the state playoffs that start this Friday when the ‘Cats host Fort Smith Southside.
Sandefur, previously a career assistant at the school, has been a driving force in North Little Rock’s longest sustained run of excellence as the ‘Cats look to play in a sixth consecutive state championship game in December.
But first up is Southside, formerly known as the Rebels, and are now the Mavericks. A team that went 2-8 in the regular season and limps into the postseason as the No. 6 seed from the 7A-West.
Southside and North Little Rock had three common opponents during the season in Northside, Fayetteville and Springdale Har-Ber. All were losses for Southside and wins for the ‘Cats.
The winner of Southside-North Little Rock will travel to Bentonville, the No. 2 seed from the 7A-West and as the No. 3 seed from the 7A-Central, North Little Rock is on the same side of the bracket as conference and defending state champ Bryant, and that would be a semifinals matchup.
To view the bracket, click here.
North Little Rock earned its way to the No. 3 seed last Friday with a thrilling 41-26 win at Cabot.
The ‘Cats won the game in all three phases — offense, defense, special teams — as the team put together a complete performance.
Offensively, it was junior quarterback Malachi Gober who led the with 199 passing yards and two touchdowns, one on the ground, while running back Javonte Harris had two touchdowns on the ground, and 79 yards rushing. The leading receiver was Jiquori Stewart: with seven catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The defense was responsible for two scores, both interception returns with pick-6s from Tavion Akins and Davian Vayson.
Vayson’s interception return came late in the fourth quarter to set the final margin and ended Cabot’s hopes of comeback.
On special teams, North Little Rock kicker Devin Jackson was a perfect 5-of-5 on extra points.
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Play of the game: North Little Rock’s Davian Vayson sealed the win with the interception return below.
Player of the game: The North Little Rock defense had two interception returns for scores. Also noteworthy, quarterback Malachi Gober passed for 199 yards and now has 1,583 yards this season.
Kicker shoutout: Kicker Devin Jackson was a perfect 5-of-5 on extra point attempts.
What’s next: North Little Rock (8-2) hosts Fort Smith Southside (2-8) this Friday in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
Aug. 27: North Little Rock 38, El Dorado 28 (Scrimmage)
Sept. 3: North Little Rock 58, Springdale Har-Ber 28
Sept. 10: North Little Rock 14, Fayetteville 7
Sept. 17: North Little Rock 41, West Memphis 0
Sept. 24: North Little Rock 35, Little Rock Central 6
Oct. 1: Conway 38, North Little Rock 10
Oct. 8: North Little Rock 62, Little Rock Southwest 14
Friday, Oct. 15: North Little Rock 42, Little Rock Catholic 7
Friday, Oct. 22: North Little Rock 28, Fort Smith Northside 21
Oct. 29: Bryant 24, North Little Rock 12
Nov. 5: North Little Rock 41, Cabot 26
Friday, Nov. 12: Fort Smith Southside at North Little Rock | First round of Class 7A playoffs
School ... Conf. ... Overall
Bryant ... 7-0 ... 9-1 (First-round bye)
Conway ... 6-1 ... 8-2 (First-round bye)
North Little Rock ... 5-2 ... 8-2
Cabot ... 4-3 ... 7-3
Fort Smith Northside ... 3-4 ... 7-3
Little Rock Catholic ... 2-5 ... 3-7
Carlos Gordon, Arkansas Tech
Tobias Enlow, Central Arkansas
Dwain Hunt, Central Arkansas
Jaden Salley, Central Arkansas
Dennis Carroll, Harding
Frederick O’Donald, Henderson State
Jordan Owens, Henderson State
Mason Carlan, Air Force
Slayten Clark, Dodge City Community College (Kansas)
Chris Jefferson, Dodge City Community College (Kansas)
Damon Ball, Jackson State University
Drew Martin, Memphis
Brandon Thomas, Memphis
Tony Collier, New Mexico
Oscar Addaway, North Texas State
David Chapple, North Texas State
Kareame Cotton, Northwestern State
Jaylon Glosson, Northwestern State
Erin Smith, SMU
K.J. Hill, L.A. Chargers
Martrell Spaight, Mass. Pirates (Indoor football league)
Have any additions to this list? Email us at Arkansas@substack.com