The Arkadelphia Badgers kicked off their 2017 season by shutting out the Stuttgart Rice Birds 29-0 last Friday night on the road.

STUTTGART – The Arkadelphia Badgers kicked off their 2017 season by shutting out the Stuttgart Rice Birds 29-0 last Friday night on the road.
Arkadelphia showed very strong special teams with kicker Gabe Goodman who drove three field goals through the uprights while also routinely sending the ball to the goal line on kickoffs.
The first half saw the Stuttgart defense allow but six points, a scoop and score fumble return would net Arkadelphia another seven points. In the second half Stuttgart battled through exhaustion and extremely poor field position to allow Arkadelphia 16 points.
The Badgers scored the game’s first points when Gabe Goodman kicked a 26-yard field goal with 10:00 left in the second quarter. The scoring drive was aided by a personal foul penalty on a Badger punt that allowed Arkadelphia to keep possession. From that point, Arkadelphia’s offense did just enough to move within Goodman’s range for the season’s first score.
The Badgers made the score 10-0 when, at the 3:22 mark of the first half, Arkadelphia picked up a loose football and advanced it 57 yards for a touchdown.
The two teams headed to the locker room with Arkadelphia leading 13-0 as Goodman kicked a 22 yard field goal with two remaining in the half.
Arkadelphia broke the game open on the first play of the second half as the Badgers scored their first offensive touchdown of the season when Zion Hatley scored from 41 yards out, breaking two tackles on the play for a 20-0 lead.
The Badgers would add a touchdown and field goal the rest of the way to make the final 29-0.
“Our defense played an outstanding game,” said J.R. Eldridge, head coach for the Arkadelphia Badger varsity football team.
According to Eldridge, Arkadelphia’s defense managed to hold Stuttgart to105 total yards of offense, and created four turnovers.
“Other than the snap that went over our punters head, our football team dominated in special teams,” said Eldridge.
Offensively, the Badgers had 311 rushing yards and 65 passing yards.
“We were able to run the football very well,” said Eldridge.
Despite Friday’s performance, Eldridge noted there are several areas where the Badgers must improve.
“We must continue to improve at making sure that we secure the football. Additionally, we must continue to get to the football and make sure tackles,” Eldridge said.
Hatley was named the Offensive Player of the Game with 157 rushing yards, two touchdowns and one pancake block.
Kyren Harrison earned honors for Defensive Player of the Game with two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and five tackles, while Goodman was named Special Teams Player of the Game.
Goodman was three for three in field goals and two for two in PATs. He also kicked two touchbacks and had a 42-yard net average on punts.
The Badgers will be back on the road again Friday to take on Class 6A Sheridan Yellowjackets. Arkadelphia defeated Sheridan 38-28 last year at Badger Stadium.
"They have got 75 guys on their football team. Defensively, they are going to play the same as they did last year," said Eldridge.
In terms offense, Eldridge said Sheridan is expected to throw the football more this season.
"They have a new head coach. We're looking forward to a challenge and getting out there this Friday night," Eldridge said.
Kickoff from Sheridan is at 7 p.m.
Stuttgart Sports Editor Cole Sherman contributed to this story.

To Sheridan High School from Arkadelphia High School:
• Get on I-30 E
• Follow I-30 E and US-270 E to W. Vine St. in Sheridan
• Use any lane to turn left onto W. Vine St.

Estimated travel time:

One hour