Little Rock Central safety Kevin Thornton feels very good about his team's chances of repeating as the Arkansas Class AAAAA state champion.
You would, too, if your team had won 23 of its last 24 games and the only loss came when you were on the sidelined injured - a 22-19 defeat when Bryant rallied in the second half with Thornton looking on with a bum ankle.
"I'm fully healthy now and this team has stepped up its game and is ready to roll," Thornton said. "I feel like we can get it down again if we just keep the fire going and I know we will."
No. 3 Little Rock Central , which allowed Little Rock Hall just 35 total yards and had four interceptions and four sacks in a 43-0 beatdown last Thursday, will open the playoffs by hosting Fayetteville Friday night at Quigley Stadium.
"I know they are a good football team, but I won't know too much about them until we watch them on film," Thornton said. "Our thing is just to take care of our business anyway."
Thornton (6-2, 190, 4.5) , a hard-hitting defender with a knack for the ball, had two picks last week to raise his season total to six.
He now has 21 interceptions for his career - 10 of which came last season and has also shined as a wideout this season.
""He has all the skills to play several positions for somebody," Little Rock Central Bernie Cox said. "He may not be a 4.35 guy, but is one that never shies away from contact. He goes looking for it. And he has just an absolute great break on the ball..."
Thornton said Sunday night that he will likely take visits to Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina before making a decision.
But he has never tried to hide the fact that he has the Razorbacks at the top of his list.
"I've gone to their home games and I can see that they are very young and trying hard," Thornton said. "I think I could come up there and help although I realize that it is much harder in college than it is in high school. But I am looking to put in all the work it takes to be successful."
While Central has been a dominant defense again this season, Thornton says it has been a different one without current Razorback Fred Bledsoe and the injured Antwain Robinson at the defensive ends and current Hargrave Military Academy linebacker and future Razorback Fred Fairchild.
"Without those guys we don't get as much pressure on the quarterback as we did, but we make up for it by covering a lot of ground and making plays," Thornton said. "I think we've got the defense to get this thing done again."
There are some looking forward to a potential third-round matchup between No. 1 Springdale and Central, a game that would happen the night after Thanksgiving in Little Rock - just a few hours after Arkansas and LSU play in the same city.
"One of the reasons we have been so successful is we take one game at a time," Thornton said. "The only one we think about is the next one."
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