After finishing one of best seasons on the gridiron, the Hope Bobcats definitely have made 2013 a memorable year for Hempstead County and Hope football program.
The Bobcats' play this season brought back the excitement of football mania in Hope. The Cats drew numerous fans back to Hope and packed Hammons Stadium every game this season. In fact, the Bobcat fans were even more supportive on the road this season, which impacted the Cats' dominance on the gridiron for a successful year.
Despite falling short to win Hope's second state championship, the Cats pulled off some remarkable victories against Arkansas' toughest and best teams this season home and on the road.
To end their season 10-3 overall, the Cats accomplished high goals set from spring football training of winning the 5A South Conference title (6-1) with one loss to ranked Watson Chapel at the time of their game. In all of the Bobcats' three defeats this season, the Cats lost under seven points and all coming against ranked opponents this season – (Sept. 13 class 4A No. 5 Ashdown 42-35); (Oct. 11 class No. 5 Watson Chapel 19-17);(Nov. 29 class 5A state semifinals Morrilton 24-21).
As their final loss of the season came in the semifinals of the class 5A state playoffs, it was against the team who went on to win the 2013 state title which was Morrilton. Their [Morrilton] had one of the best offensive attacks in the state to rack up high powering points on the scoreboard. Before Morrilton's battle against Hope, the Devil Dogs rack up over 50 points scored against Pulaski Academy, who was ranked in the overall top 10 in the state of Arkansas. The Cats' defense this season was one of their main key's to their success, as they held Morrilton to 24 points and scoreless in the second half in their semifinals battle in the 2013 football playoffs.
The Bobcats defensive unit put them ranked as the top defense in the state for class 5A and one of the best for the entire state this season. Their defense was strong the last past seasons' but progressed to be more effective for 2013.
With new coming coach Doug Means taking over the defense for Hope after former defensive coordinator Jason Burns left to head the Mineral Springs football program, the Bobcats continued be impressive defensively.
The Cats accomplished a lot this season, not to just make it back to the postseason from a five year absence, but the Bobcats were only on win from returning back to War Memorial Stadium to capture their ultimate goal of the state title.
The Bobcats have came away with huge impressive wins this season due to their defense by setting the tone early defeating Nashville in Scrapperville for the season opener. The Cats overcame a 14-0 deficit to win 35-21 in Nashville. Other 5A South Conference comeback victories on the road came in their two battles in Spa City against Hot Springs 26-7 for 43-34 win and Lakeside 21-0 for 23-21 win. The Cats came out huge with a major victory over White Hall to hold the ranked Bulldogs scoreless 7-0 at halftime on the road to stay alive for the conference title. The Cat's totally dismantled Magnolia 41-0 to capture their conference title not won since 2005 and to earn the overall No. 1 seed to have home field advantage throughout the class 5A state playoffs.
Page 2 of 4 - These were no doubt major victories and accomplishments this season, but the most impressive win this year was topping the 2012 class 5A state champs' Camden-Fairview Cardinals. The Bobcats' win over the Cardinals shocked the entire state of Arkansas, but to Camden-Fairview it wasn't. Buck James, Camden-Fairview head coach knew maybe one day his team's 30 conference game winning streak possibly could end and always felt Hope had the chance to end it.
The Cats came very close two season's ago staying close with the Cardinals for a 20-14 score heading into the fourth quarter in 2011. Even with Camden-Fairview going on to a 40-14 win, coach James knew Hope would be tough to beat.
Now in 2013, the Cats were ready for the big challenge to beat this talented Cardinal team and if winning a conference title, it would have to go through defeating the reigning state champs' Camden. To knock off the Cardinals this season, the Cats held the Cardinals scoreless in the first quarter with a well executed offense to post 17 points at halftime. Most of the credit was given to the Cats' defense to hold Camden to only 12 points and one major play to stop their Division I running back Deion Holliman and their offense from scoring on the goal line four straight drives for Hope to win, 17-12.
What the Cats' accomplished for 2013 was big for one season. They gave the Bobcat nation fans some excitement this season and now “Hope” for the future in football.
Their commander-in-chief head coach Jay Turley couldn't have been more proud of his teams' performance this entire season. Turley was disappointed his Cats didn't make the trip to Little Rock to compete for the class 5A state title game. In the semifinals game against Morrilton, Turley didn't think his Cats played their very best football for all four quarters offensively in the first half, but did better the second half. He thought the defense played well against Morrilton as they've done all season long. He was proud of how his Cats fought through adversity this season and displayed good quality football for the Hope fans this year home and on the road.
“I felt we just came up short against Morrilton. We had opportunities to make plays, but came up short. My hats just go off to Morrilton,” said Turley.
“I was super proud of these kids. They fought hard to the end and played with a lot of heart. I'm disappointed it ended for us in the semifinals, because the kids really wanted this state championship. Hopefully next year, they'll want it even more,” said Turley.
One special part of this season was the Bobcat senior class. This group of young men really shined for their roles to be leaders. Turley couldn't have asked to be around these 17 players who he loves very dearly. He said, if could, he would buy each of them all mansions. Turley commented that there just isn't enough time to talk about how much he adored each and everyone of them, but really felt they came to work for battle the entire season.
Page 3 of 4 - “They were here when I arrived as ninth graders and very motivated and did what it took. They just have a lot to be proud of to finish their senior year with 10 wins. They're an outstanding group of young men and better people than just football players. They're great kids to be around and came to practice to get better every time. They're work ethic is why I got into coaching,” said Turley.
“I received a lot of compliments about them and our kids this year. I love being here in Hope. Hope is home for me,” said Turley.
Now with football season officially over for the entire state of Arkansas, Turley is more than excited about going back to work in the offseason with his Bobcats. After the Christmas holiday break, Turley with the Bobcat coaching staff and team will meet and go over things to enhance their skills to get better to build up the program and develop their overall play into a championship club for numerous seasons to capture their second state title.
“I hope to build up our football program and be a contender every year. We've got to come together to build chemistry and try to out work folks and get bigger, faster and stronger. We have a good group for next year and hopefully out linemen will get mature and as a whole, work on getting better,” said Turley.
The Cats worked very hard during the year from spring to fall, which only resulted in one major injury. Turley thought this was absolutely amazing and a tribute to the kids of staying strong and fit.
Turley also thought their season couldn't been as successful without an remarkable support from the BOBCAT NATION FANS and the COMMUNITY!
Turley said, “I want to thank the community support for coming out to support this football team. I appreciate their pride for this football team and want to see that every year. These kids have a way to bring people together and brought this community back together. We were one of the teams playing from the Southwest Arkansas (5A South Conf.) competing in the semifinals and that's something to be proud of. I'm looking to win another district championship,” said Turley.
The Cats finish the 2013 season as the overall No. 5 ranked team in the state for class 5A in the Associated Press Arkansas Prep Poll.
2013 Hope Bobcat Football Seasonal Accolades
Class 5A All-State
Javon Westmoreland – (5A South Outstanding back, AHSCA All-Star Game Participant, Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year Finalist)
Ty Voss - (Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year Nominee)
Davon Potts - (Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year Nominee)
Page 4 of 4 - Channing Kight
Nathan Stubber - Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year Nominee)
Kyler Means – (5A South Outstanding Kicker)
5A South All-Conference
Kenneth “K.J.” Thompson - (Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year Nominee)
David Cheatham - (Hooten's Football Farm Bureau Class 5A Offensive Player of the Year Nominee)
5A South All-Conference Honorable Mention
Kestarion “Ke” Easter
2013 Hope Bobcat Season Stats
Team: Stats - Offense
Passing – 101 of 218 receptions for 1,260 yards
Rushing – 419 carries for 2,397 yards
Receiving – 98 receptions for 1,291 yards
Touchdowns – 64 TD's
Total yards – 4, 948 yards
Team: Stats - Defense
Tackles – 621
Sacks – 28
Interceptions – 6
Stats: Individual Top Performers
Leading Rusher – Javon Westmoreland (174 carries for 1,100 yards)
Leading Receiver – Kenneth “K.J.” Thompson (40 receptions for 689 yards)
Leading Passer – Nathan Stubber (87 of 187 passes for 1,009 yards)
Leading Tackler – Ty Voss (131 tackles)
Leading Sacks – Davon Potts (8 sacks)
Leading Interceptions – Javon Westmoreland (4 INT's)
Associated Press Arkansas Prep Poll Overall Rankings
1. Bentonville (10) 11-2
2. Cabot 12-1
3. North Little Rock 10-3
4. Conway 9-3
5. El Dorado 9-5
6. Greenwood 12-1
7. Morrilton 12-2
8. Pine Bluff 9-4-1
9. Booneville 15-0
(tie) Spr. Har-Ber 8-4
Associated Press Arkansas Prep Poll Class 5A Rankings
1. Morrilton (10) 12-2
2. Batesville 11-2
3. Alma 10-3
4. Camden Fairview 10-2
5. Hope 10-3
Others receiving votes: Pulaski Academy (11-1) 7, White Hall (8-3) 2.