By Ken McLemore
HOPE – Evidencing the depth of talent within a team weighted in sophomores and juniors, the 2021 Hope High School Bobcats had 18 players named to post-season honors including all-state honors for senior Quarterback Ammorrion Dempsey and senior O/D Lineman Kai Hamilton.
“We saw a lot of growth from our team from the first team camp until the final game versus Magnolia, and I am so proud of these young men and my coaching staff,” Hope Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Phillip Turner said of the announcement.
All-state honors went to Dempsey and Hamilton, and both were named to the 5A-South All-Conference Team as were three other Bobcat linemen, seniors Gregory Burton and Tyree Phillips and sophomore Juan Ortiz, wide receivers Ty’Zhan Jones and Montavius Eason, and running back K.D. Gulley.
All-Conference Honorable Mention went to seniors Kearon Brown, Oscar Marquez, K.J. Jove, and Kejuan Booker, juniors Kaleo Anderson, Tristan Young and Jaualin Watson, and sophomore Kaden Brown.
“We had a lot of kids recognized for their accomplishments on the field this season and some are reaping the benefits of it,” Turner said. “Some are being recruited by colleges and I believe we have four or five who can get a chance to play at the next level.”
Dempsey has been offered a scholarship by Arkansas Baptist College and Kearon Brown has been offered a scholarship at Lyon College.
“We have recruiting trips scheduled,” Turner said. “This senior class will definitely be missed. They have shown the underclassmen what it takes to be successful and to be a BOBCAT.”
Dempsey was all over the field this season, passing 18/40 for 361 yards and four touchdowns, catching 13 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns and running for 1,035 yards on 97 carries and 12 touchdowns. Dempsey crossed the goal line 18 times on the season, while making 29 solo tackles and eight assists, deflecting two punts, recovering one fumble and intercepting four passes on defense.
A lot of the holes Dempsey found were created by Hamilton who combined with Burton, Ortiz and Philips to forge a dominating offensive front. On defense, Hamilton had two solo tackles and one assist.
Burton contributed four solo and one assist tackles, Ortiz one pass deflection and two sacks, and Phillips one solo and one assist tackles.
Jones caught 22 passes for 633 yards and six touchdowns, contributed 13 solo and four assist tackles and hauled in two interceptions on the season.
Gulley ran 26 times for 157 yards and five touchdowns and had a monster 40 solo and 12 assist tackles with one sack for loss and one punt deflection on the season.
Eason wrapped up 32 solo and one assist tackles with six for losses and one sack for the year.
As a team, the Bobcats scored 411 points, scoring at least two touchdowns per game and were never held scoreless for a game. The Cats gained 1,549 yards on 72 of 167 passing attempts for 15 touchdowns, averaging 21 yards per completion for 154.9 yards per game on the season.
On the ground, the Cats ground out 2,245 yards on 372 carries for 27 touchdowns at 6 yards per carry on an average of 224 yards per game on the season, including 9 runs of 100-plus yards.
All-purpose yardage for the HHS squad averaged 397.1 yards per game, with the Cats forcing 12 interceptions and recovering eight defensive fumbles on the year.
“This was the best team I’ve had collectively that had so much talent, got better each and every day and was very coachable, in my stint here at Hope,” Turner said. “I and the coaching staff love our guys like they’re our own, and that love and respect contributed to our best football, but six turnovers kept us from being a 500-ball club.”
Indeed, the Cats lost six of 13 fumbles, were intercepted 10 times and lost momentum on seven sacks on the season.
“We started peaking at the latter part of the season and played some of our best football,” Turner said. “Turnovers and some other small detail things are what we are really focusing on this off-season.”