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November 3, 2010

Shiloh Christian learning from its letdown

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

It has been nearly two months since Springdale (Ark.) Shiloh Christian gave up 80 points. On national television.

But to this day, head coach Josh Floyd defends the decision to play Euless (Texas) Trinity on Labor Day in what some then were calling a game to determine the relative merits of not just his program but Arkansas football as a whole.

"I would do it again," he said. "We know we laid an egg. We aren't making excuses, they are better than us.

"We watch the tape and think we could have scored 40. We should have scored 40. We have learned a lot from that game."

In the days immediately following the game, it was about crisis management and traumatic stress therapy.

"We came together as a team after that," senior quarterback Kiehl Frazier said. "We were pretty isolated after the game. A lot of things didn't go how we wanted during the game. Then we came home and felt like some people turned on us."

The team was stunned at how quickly it went from being a national power to one others said couldn't even compete locally.

"I do not want to talk negative against anyone," Floyd said. "But when we hear that we couldn't play in other classes based on how we played in Texas, it just isn't true. Those classes do not have the players we saw in Texas. No one in this state has those players."

Shiloh then went out to prove everyone wrong. And it has done just that.

It started with a convincing 48-27 victory over Greenwood.

The victory sparked a seven-game winning streak - one in which Shiloh has given up a total of just 83 points while defeating two Arkansas 5A teams.

It offense, meanwhile, scored at least 42 points in seven of the victories.

Shiloh realizes it can do nothing to erase the 80 points it yielded, but Floyd wishes someone would remember it scored 26 and is one of just two teams to have scored more than a touchdown against a 9-0 Trinity team that currently is ranked No. 3 in the land.

It was the Shiloh offense that actually kept the team in the game for a bit with Trinity.

"We had the ball, it was 31-20, and we were driving and turned it over," Floyd recalled. "Then we had the ball in the red zone twice and didn't capitalize. Then we were going in right before the half and that last play killed us. Killed us."

The play was a tipped-ball interception that was returned for a touchdown that put Trinity up 53-20.

"Everything just felt like it was snowballing on us," Floyd said. "We never could get it to stop."

When it finally stopped at the final gun, Shiloh not only allowed its infamous 80-point outburst, but also 706 yards of total offense rung up against it. Those numbers are hard to forget.

Floyd, however, isn't embarrassed.

"There was no way to prepare for them," he said. "We don't have extra 6-foot-5 290-pound guys standing around to use as a practice squad. We could not replicate what they had. No one in this state could. They would be a matchup problem for every team in Arkansas."

Floyd, in fact, is proud that his team played its game until the end.

"We could have tried to milk the clock from the get go - tried to stay in it longer or keep it closer," he said. "That isn't us. We wanted to be true to ourselves and run our offense. It wasn't good enough."

Shiloh, now 8-1 with just a home game left against Farmington (Ark.) High on Friday, is poised to make another run at a Class 4A state title it has won three in the past four years and six since 1998.

No matter what happens, Shiloh realizes the scar will remain.

"People will think what they want about us this year," Frazier said. "But we look around our locker room and see a lot of talented kids and we know what we can do."

The Saints locker room is one of the most talented in the state.

Frazier is the top-rated quarterback in the state and the No. 78 overall player in the country.

He is committed to Auburn to play under the tutelage of Tigers offensive coordinator Gus Malzhan. Malzhan was Floyd's head coach in high school and got Floyd's name littered in the Arkansas football record books.

Frazier has thrown for over 1,600 yards, run for 600 more and has more than 30 touchdowns this season, all the while playing in only one half of football over the last six weeks.

"Kiehl is the best quarterback ever to come out of this state," Floyd said. "People take him for granted because he has been doing it for so long here, but he is special."

He is not alone.

Saints defensive tackle Samuel Harvill is a three-star player committed to Kansas State. He is also the career sack leader in the state of Arkansas with 43 - and counting.

Offensive lineman Travis Bodenstein committed to Kansas in June. At 6-5 and 295 pounds, he is one of the biggest and most physical linemen in the state.

And that is the tip of iceburg.

Arkansas Top 10
Even with a disappointing loss in a nationally televised game Shiloh is among the best teams in the Natural State.

1. Bentonville High, (9-0)
2. Conway High, (8-1)
3. Springdale Har-Ber, (8-1)
4. Shiloh Christian, (8-1)
5. Fort Smith Southside, (6-3)
6. Pine Bluff High, (9-0)
7. El Dorado High, (8-1)
8. Jonesboro Senior, (6-3)
9. Camden Fairview, (8-1)
10. Watson Chapel, (6-3)

There are likely three other players who will earn Division I scholarships, including wide receiver Zann Jones (who is on pace to break the state's all-time touchdown receptions record), defensive lineman Troy Goss and defensive back Garrett Harper (who returned a kickoff 93 yards for a score against Trinity).

Another 10 players likely will play at Division II or Division III schools, including the entire offensive and defensive lines.

"With what we have here and what Trinity did to us, it speaks volumes about them," Floyd said. "It reflects poorly on us."

It also reflected poorly on Arkansas - which is a state on the rise.

Questions about the validity of the state will persist and only grow when digging deeper.

Class 7A teams, often touted as being superior to Shiloh, have given up more than their fair share of points.

Fort Smith (Ark.) Northside allowed 41 in a recent win to Fayetteville (Ark.) High.

Last week's 55-51 shootout between top teams Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber and Fayetteville and the multiple games of more than 30 points allowed by Conway (Ark.) High begs a question: What would Trinity do to those teams?

"If I had to go back against Trinity with any team in Arkansas," Floyd said. "I would take my team. I do not talk bad about other programs and other coaches because we are all working hard, but I still feel this is the best team in the state."

The 80 points his team allowed be damned.

"I understand that it makes us hard to rank," he said. "But we talked last year and said we could schedule any team we wanted in Arkansas, likely win, stay 3-0 into conference play and keep a ranking. Or we could go to Cowboy Stadium and get sized up.

"It was an experience our kids will not forget. And it exposed our weaknesses. We are a better football team for it and they are better people for going through the adversity."

MORE: Ranking all 50 states for its high school football merits | Top 100 football teams

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