Ashdown-Malvern a serious conflict


Ashdown Coach Matt Richardson is not trying past tonight, irrespective of how excessive he thinks his crew’s ceiling is.

The Panthers (5-0, 1-0 4A-7) will journey to Malvern tonight to tackle the convention rival Leopards (4-1, 1-0) in a conflict of two of the highest Class 4A groups.

Ashdown, ranked No. 3 in 4A, and No. 4 Malvern every present certainly one of classification’s finest models.

Malvern’s offense, led by quarterback Cedric Simmons, operating again Jalen Dupree and left deal with Vinny Winters, is averaging 45.6 factors per recreation — second solely to Gentry’s 49.4 amongst 4A groups.

Ashdown brings the highest protection Class 4A, permitting 8.8 factors per recreation — the fourth-best common within the state.

The Panthers spent final week’s bye focusing internally to root out any lingering issues that could possibly be highlighted in opposition to Malvern.

“I informed my youngsters, ‘They will make large performs. For those who suppose you are going to cease all their Division I gamers from making large performs, you are loopy,”” Richardson stated. “My concern is nothing they do, simply deal with [ourselves]. That is what I am telling my youngsters, ‘Exit and deal with you. Do not let Ashdown beat Ashdown.’

“To have the ability to play with [offenses like Malvern’s], you higher have an thought of what they’re doing earlier than they snap the ball as a result of I promise you when you’re guessing what they’re doing, you are going to be in bother. You are going to be in bother as a result of by the point you guess, the play goes to be gone and someone’s going to be by you.”

Ashdown’s protection begins with Nash Brown, a junior who fills the center linebacker spot for Richardson’s squad.

“He is a extremely good participant,” Richardson stated. “He is main us in tackles, he makes all of the checks and does every little thing for us.”

Richardson is adamant his protection shouldn’t be the one facet of the ball his crew excels, and the Panthers’ current play suggests he is proper.

Ashdown has averaged 42 factors per recreation over its previous 4 outings and two of these video games had been with out 247Sports’ No. 1 senior within the state, who is about to return tonight.

Tight finish Shamar Easter is constantly ranked among the many prime 10 or so at his place amongst seniors nationally. The 247Sports composite has him as a 4-star recruit and the 123rd participant within the 2023 class. Ashdown has gained its previous two video games regardless of Easter being restricted to a handful of snaps, however the College of Arkansas commit could possibly be the difference-maker in opposition to Malvern.

“To have that man again, , he is a giant drive and he can change the sport actually fast and be higher than anyone on the sphere when he will get the ball in his palms,” Richardson stated. “It will be good to have him again.”

With Easter again and a protection among the many state’s elite, Ashdown has all of the makings of a crew able to win the varsity’s first state title in soccer. This is not the primary crew Richardson, in his thirteenth season at Ashdown, has considered a title challenger. However regardless of that, he is making an attempt to stay targeted on the duty at hand.

“We’re fearful about this week,” He stated. “They seem to be a good group, I can let you know that. They’re in all probability one of the best whole group I’ve ever had. … We bought a shot to be actually particular, however we bought to take it one recreation at a time.”

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