The first week of the state high school football season has come to a close.
While masks and social distancing are two of the changes in the 2020 season, one thing hasn’t changed: The dominance of Bryant.
Bryant got two first-quarter defensive stops, and the Hornets scored 42 first-half points on their way to a 48-7 rout of their Saline County rival Benton in the Salt Bowl on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
Austin Ledbetter threw four touchdown passes for Bryant, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s No. 1 team overall and in Class 7A. Three of those touchdown passes were caught by Joseph Young.
Bryant is 13-0-1 in the Salt Bowl since 2006. Hornets Coach Buck James is 5-0 in the rivalry game.
In other key games from the opening week, Pulaski Academy overcame a 21-20 halftime deficit to defeat Joe T. Robinson 48-34 on Friday night in a matchup of two 2019 state champions.
Pulaski Academy, the defending Class 5A state champion, totaled 689 yards of offense. Jalyn Witcher caught 13 passes for 244 yards and 5 touchdowns for the Bruins.
The Senators, who won their first state title since 1980 last season in Class 4A, were led by Buddy Gaston’s four touchdown passes.
Pulaski Academy remains No. 1 in Class 5A and No. 9 overall. Despite the loss, the Senators are still the Class 4A’s No. 1 team entering its home opener Friday against Maumelle.
In Conway, Conway trailed 14-0 after the first quarter. However, the Wampus Cats dominated the final three quarters to earn a 38-21 victory over Fayetteville.
Ben Weese passed for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bryce Bohanon returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
With Friday’s victory, Conway enters the Democrat-Gazette overall top 10 at No. 6 and is No. 5 in Class 7A.
Arkansas high school football was on a national level Saturday.
Bentonville West crossed the Oklahoma border and faced Broken Arrow in a game that was televised on ESPN2.
The Wolverines pulled within 29-23 in the third quarter and forced a fumble at the Broken Arrow 12. However, the ball rolled among three Broken Arrow players and RJ Spears-Jennings picked it up and ran for a touchdown, which gave Broken Arrow a 36-23 lead. Bentonville West lost 50-23, but had signs of success against one of the best teams in Oklahoma.
Several coaches made their debuts with their new teams, but no debut was bigger than Trey Schucker’s at Arkadelphia.
The former Searcy offensive coordinator coached his first game with Arkadelphia on Friday and the Badgers pulled out a 21-20 victory in overtime over Camden Fairview.
Braeden Thomas threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Bailey in overtime and Eric Servantes kicked the extra point to win it for the Badgers.
All six No. 1 teams entering the 2020 season will remain on top of their classifications entering September — Bryant (Class 7A), Benton (Class 6A), Pulaski Academy (Class 5A), Joe T. Robinson (Class 4A), Harding Academy (Class 3A) and Fordyce (Class 2A).
Only Harding Academy didn’t play this past week among the No. 1 teams. The Wildcats will open their season Friday at Mena after having its season opener at Bald Knob canceled because of eight positive covid-19 tests in the program.