BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Perhaps the only thing better than a Carlisle and Hazen regular season rivalry game is one that is for it all.
Carlise (13-1) will look to avenge its only loss of the season when the Bison face unbeaten Hazen (12-0) Friday at noon in the Class 2A championship at War Memorial Stadium
The two towns are just 9.5 miles and will travel the short distance to Little Rock for the rematch.
“We are very excited to be here,” Carlisle head coach Max Shock said. “It’s very important for our community and I think it very exciting for both communities.
“… To be able to see these guys for the second time this season is good for our players and both teams are very excited about to here. Both have worked very hard to get here.”
Hazen is coming off a 56-16 win rout of East Poinsett County in one semifinal while Carlisle took down Mount Ida 26-20 in the other.
It was a massive turnaround this season for the Bison, who were 1-10 with just three seniors in 2021.
“To be able to come back from a 1-10 season a year ago and be sitting where we are now playing for a state championship is testament to the buy in our kids had this offseason, not giving up and just putting in a ton of work,” Shock said.,
“I know it was hard, but I am very proud of the time and effort that our young men have put in to get us in the position where we are in.”
Shock said discipline in all phases was a key to the quick turnaround.
“A lot of it was just getting back to being very discipline with what we do, all the way down to how clean you keep the locker room,” Shock said. “Just all kinds of little things that we talked about all the time that bleed over into how you play the game.
Carlisle junior ruling back J.J. Sullivan (5-9, 200) has 44 touchdowns this season, just one away for the Arkansas single-season record.
“He means a lot to our team and not just from a production standpoint, Shock said. “He is a great leader and a guy who cares a whole lot about it and has been playing with the Bison since he was in pee wee football. It means a ton to him to be a Bison.”