One of the most talked about football games of the season is finally here; Shiloh Christian vs Pulaski Academy for the Class 4A State Championship. Several experts have given ArkansasVarsity.com their brief thoughts on the game, as well as their prediction.
"Shiloh Christian shouldn't have any jitters Friday night when it lines up for the 4A title against Pulaski Academy. The Saints have won the past two championships in fairly routine fashion, though they will face a more complete team in the Bruins than they've seen the past two years. "
"P.A., meanwhile, competed in 5A the past few years and won the 5A title two years ago over a talented Helena-West Helena team, but only a handful of the key players from that team are still around."
"Someday, folks will be considering the Bruins' Fredi Knighten as maybe the top quarterback in Arkansas, but Friday night Kiehl Frazier of Shiloh will show why he's so coveted by Auburn and is a 4-star Rivals.com signal caller. Though both teams can score quickly and in bunches, the difference between the teams should be in the lines, where Shiloh players like Samuel Harvill have been to war in this type of game."
"Shiloh's defense will be a little much for the Bruins' offense, and we can't see P.A.'s propensity for onside kicks and going for all fourth downs being advantageous against as talented and as well-coached a team as the Saints."
"I have great respect for Kevin Kelley and his ability to even the playing field with his unorthodox tactics, but I can't go against Shiloh Christian. I think they have an edge on the line and tackling Kiehl Frazier won't be easy. "Fast" Fredi Knighton will need to have a big game for PA for Bruins to have a chance."
"This is one of the more interesting and hyped up state championships in recent years. There are a lot of great and interesting dynamics to follow. Can Kevin Kelley, one of the most unorthodox coaches in high school football, use his various strategies to outwit Josh Floyd, who brings innovation to the field every time he plays?"
"That is yet to be seen, but it is definitely one of the games of the century in Class 4A. There aren't many games that will have a Shiloh fan shaking in his boots, but one can only assume that this is the most unnerving game of the year for Saints fans."
"Both of these teams have proved that they can hang with any school in any classification, but both of these teams have proved that yes, they can lose. And unlike many years in both of these schools history, one team will go home with two losses on their record tomorrow night."
"This game could quiet possibly be the game of the year in the state of Arkansas. At the very least it has the potential to be the most fun to watch with two high octane offenses going back and forth. Both have won multiple state champions, and both are prideful programs."
"Since it took a gut-checking loss in Texas, Shiloh has been playing with something to prove - not only to themselves but the rest of the state and nation. This game is an opportunity to gain back some of the luster that was lost on Labor Day weekend."
"Pulaski Academy thrives on pressure and tenacious defense. The only way you beat PA is to control the clock and score EVERY TIME you have the ball. Cabot was successful against them early because they controlled the clock. There is no big secret in this. Keep the ball away from them and make plays on defense. It's not hard to figure out.
As far as Shiloh is concerned, it's pretty much the same thing. To beat the Saints, you have to do what Trinity did...line up and hit them dead in the teeth and not let up.You can't play conservative against either of these teams and expect to win. You have to run your best stuff and never let off the gas."
"On paper, this match-up looks as though it will come down to the wire and I expect it will. Many around the state feel that Pulaski Academy's special teams, or lack thereof, could come back to haunt them in this match-up. The Bruins don't punt, they rarely if ever kick field goals and their kick-offs hardly ever make it past the special hands team. Most feel this could really backfire on the Bruins, and I'll admit, it could happen. If the Saints force some turnover on downs, or don't allow the Bruins to recover any of their onside kick attempts then the game could spiral out of PA's reach before they realize it."
"However, one also has to consider the opposite of that scenario-what if the Bruins are successful in the 4th down attempts and do in fact recover a few onside attempts. This will undoubtedly frustrate the Shiloh defense which could enable PA to hit the Saints with the big plays that the Bruins have been living off of all season, plays the Saints have been fortunate to not give up against anyone not named Trinity. If PA is able to convert their 4th downs, even at a 60% clip, and also just two or three of their onside attempts, that will be enough to keep them in the ballgame."
"Lets be honest, this is the match-up we have all been waiting for since Pulaski Academy dropped to Class 4A. Both Shiloh Christian and Pulaski Academy have high powered offenses who can and will put points on the board this week. However, I feel the difference will be on defense. Shiloh is just simply bigger, better, and faster. I think this will be the difference in the game."
"I know the game plan has worked for PA. That is obvious, they continue to use it. My thing though about this game, is that I do not feel PA has faced anyone who will be as physical as Shiloh will be against them. I don't feel they have faced anyone with the all around team speed Shiloh will have."
"If you give Shiloh the short field on numerous occasions, they are going to score quickly, and score a lot on top of that. Doing this, in my opinion, could cause the game to get out of hand pretty quickly against a team like Shiloh, especially is Shiloh does one thing they are good at; force turnovers then score off of them as well."