Rivalry Showdown: Panthers to host unbeaten Poyen for conf. duel

Poyen Indians (18) Brandon Sanchez explodes through the Conway Christian Eagles defense during 5-2A Conference football action Friday, September 27, 2019 at Malvern National Bank Stadium, Indian Field.Magnet Cove Panthers' (3) quarterback Tyler Hodges eyes a target to pass during home action for the 2019 football season at Kenneth W. Hammons Stadium.
Gerren Smith
Staff Writer

This Friday night, October 4, 2019 at Kenneth W. Hammons Stadium will anticipate an intense rivalry showdown with host team the Magnet Cove Panthers (3-1 overall, 1-0 conf.) facing their cross county rivals’ undefeated Poyen Indians (4-0 overall, 1-0 conf.) for 5-2A Conference football action.
Kickoff is set at 7 p.m.
Hooten’s Arkansas Football ranked Class 2A No. 12 Poyen vs. No. 8 Magnet Cove match up as this week’s Hooten’s Game of the Week.
This season, both teams have showcased productive play on both sides of the ball as two major contenders in the state for Class 2A. It’s not very often two teams from the same conference are similar in their style of play. But this week, the Panthers and the Indians will display a competitive contest in their quest to be postseason bound.
Last year’s battle at Malvern National Bank Stadium-Indian Field, the Indians lost a tough bout at home to Magnet Cove 35-6. But the Indians have made a lot of noise this season on the gridiron and Poyen football head coach Vick Barrett is pleased by his teams focus and intensity they’ve brought up to Week 5 of Arkansas high school football.
Coach Barrett knows all about the hype and anticipation this game presents. Despite his background as a standout athlete of Magnet Cove, Barrett wants to treat this game just like any other battle.
“It’s business as usual. We’ll treat this game like we have every week and just handle business,” Barrett said.
The Indians had one of their most productive defensive games of the season last week by defeating the Conway Christian Eagles 32-6 on homecoming night in Poyen. It was the first time the Indians defeated Conway Christian since facing them in the conference. Barrett felt the Indians defense was the key to victory against the Eagles. Following the Indians win last Friday, Barrett said, “We just came out and played ball tonight. We challenged them and stopped their run. We didn’t give up the run and hats off to the defense.”
Barrett knows this Magnet Cove squad has several weapons that have been a major part to the Panthers ground attack this season.
“They’re [Magnet Cove] similar to us offensively. The [Landon] Stone kid runs the ball well. We’ll have to try and contain Stone and their quarterback Tyler Hodges to stop them from maintaining big plays,” Barrett said.
The Panthers, under the direction of Magnet Cove head football coach Caleb Carmikle has been pleased by the line to open up and utilize the running game for them this season. The Panthers have racked up 1,507 yards rushing and average 376. 8 yards rushing per game. The Panthers have crossed over the goal line for 24 touchdowns this season on the ground and Barrett feels this Magnet Cove squad will be the toughest match up to obtain from facing Poyen’s previous four opponents.
Stone and Hodges have led the rushing attack for the Panthers this season to account for the majority of Magnet Cove’s end zone trips.
But, Poyen also has a strong ground attack with the explosive speed and ability of star running back Brandon Sanchez and quarterback Jaxson Carter, who is very effective as a scrambler on the gridiron.
Sanchez averages nearly two to three touchdowns a game this season. He’s one of the fastest or may be the fastest running back in the conference or state in Class 2A. Carter has sparked the Indians’ offense from his scrambling ability to pick up yards on the ground for several end zone trips this season.
Barrett feels this week’s ground attack will be important to sustain to help them excel against a tough Panther defense.
“We just have to establish the run. Execution matters in a game like this. We have to win the battle up front and block well,” Barrett said.
Both teams are disciplined on the gridiron and Barrett knows the Panthers will show it in their performance on Friday against the Indians. Both head coaches Barrett and Carmikle know each other well and teaches quality sound football to their teams.
“I respect Coach Carmikle. He is a good coach and his kids are disciplined. He does a really good job with his kids,” Barrett said.
Since the beginning of the season, Carmikle knew this game would be tough for the Panthers. He knows this year’s Indians squad is talented and the matchup will be intense.
Carmikle felt the Panthers’ linemen have been key for them in their previous wins and Poyen will be a major test to compete against.
The Indians average nearly 400 yards rushing on the ground and knows the Panthers will look to try and stop Poyen’s rushing attack.
Both teams will be tested with productive offensive and defensive units of execution in this battle. The Indians haven’t tasted a loss this season as the Panthers have won its previous three contests for a three-game winning streak.
Poyen is predicted to finish the conference third and Magnet Cove is picked to finish fourth voted by league coaches according to Hooten’s Arkansas Football.

No. 12 Poyen at No. 8 Magnet Cove
Winner takes a step toward claiming the 5-2A crown. Magnet Cove has captured one league title in the past five years after winning three straight from 2011-2013. Poyen has not won a conference title in its nine-year history of varsity football. Magnet Cove has won three straight in this series by an average of 21 points. The Panthers dropped the 2019 season opener to Class 3A Mountain View but has won three straight, including pulling away in the second half last week for a 56-26 over England. Magnet Cove senior QB Tyler Hodges torched England with nine carries for 255 yards and five TDs, while junior RB Landon Stone carried 17 times for 175 yards and two TDs. Stone has rushed for 838 (13 YPC) and 10 TDs this fall. Poyen counters with junior QB Carter, who carried eight times for 106 yards and a TD last week in Poyen’s first ever win (32-6) over Conway Christian. Junior RB Sanchez again racked up 200 yards, bringing his season total to 736 rushing yards. Poyen ran for 408 yards vs. Conway Christian, and its defense sacked the CC quarterback six times. Magnet Cove has rotated six players at defensive tackle this fall to keep its offensive line fresher and has outscored opponents in the second half 125-37.