LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One small town was always going to leave elated, the other devastated. Hazen and Carlisle, the archrivals located just ten short miles apart on Highway 70, came into Friday with a combined 0-9 in state championship games.
But for someone that drought had to end, and end it did, in an emphatic fashion.
Hazen entered 12-0, Carlisle, 11-1, with the one loss being to the Hornets in the final week of the regular season, the annual Highway 70 Smackdown game.
It was one of the more impressive turnarounds in the state after the Bison finished with just one win last season.
That first meeting was an 8-point Hornet win, and at first, we seemed destined for another tight one. Hazen started the scoring with a long touchdown pass from star Luke King, but Carlisle responded in kind to tie the game at 6.
From there, it was all Hazen. The Hornets' defense didn't allow another point, forcing six Bison turnovers.
The offense took advantage, King throwing for 208 yards and two scores, while Braylan Anderson rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on just 7 carries, and was named MVP.
After the game, head coach Joe Besancon brought the trophy over to celebrate with the fans who made the trip, an impressive number for the small town.
"They're going to remember this and talk about it for a long time, probably forever," said the emotional head Hornet.
As well they should. It's the first state title for any team sport in the history of Hazen High school, and the perfect end to a perfect season.