STRONG – The last time Strong won 10 games in a season, they won a state championship.
Thanks to their 10th win of the 2021 season on Friday night, they will be playing for another.
In their debut in eight-man football, Strong will have a chance to cap a perfect season after topping Brinkley 44-22 in the semifinals of the 2A 8-Man playoffs at Jerry Burson Field.
The victory sends the Bulldogs to the state championship game on Dec. 2 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock against Mountain Pine, a 50-18 winner over Rector in the other semifinal.
The Bulldogs (10-0), the No. 1 seed from the South, handed the Red Devils, the South’s No. 2 seed, their lone conference loss with a 48-30 win at home just over a month ago.
A week ago, Treveon Daniels scored three touchdowns on offense and one on defense to spur Strong to a victory over Cedar Ridge in the opening round of the playoffs.
On Friday night, the senior set the tone with a touchdown on special teams, as he returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown to give Strong a lead just seconds into the game that they would never relinquish.
Daniels added a 3-yard run in the second quarter to give him six touchdowns total in Strong’s two playoff games.
After Daniels got the Bulldogs out of the gates quickly, LaQuincy Shelton converted the first of four two-point conversions to give Strong an early 8-0 lead.
It was only the beginning for the Bulldogs.
Shelton, who ran for two scores and threw for another, scored on a 1-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Bulldogs led by the same margin at the end of the first quarter before breaking the game open in the second period.
Shelton connected with Caneilus Betters on a 19-yard strike before adding the two-point conversion to open the scoring in the second quarter, and Daniels’ aforementioned 3-yard run coupled with Shelton’s two-point conversion pushed the lead to 30-0.
Shelton then put the exclamation point on a dominant first half by scoring on a 5-yard run while adding the two-point conversion to give Strong a 38-0 lead.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard to make it 38-6 at intermission, but the Bulldogs quickly snuffed out any hopes of a comeback by the visitors with Germyren McHenry’s 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that gave the Bulldogs a 44-6 lead.
Fast starts have been a theme for the Bulldogs in the postseason.
In their two playoff wins, Strong has outscored their opponents 84-6 in the first half, including 44-0 in the first quarter.
The Tigers (6-4), the North’s No. 2 seed who also lost to Strong 32-6 during the regular season, saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.