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Tigers’ Kraus Still Stands Out
SENIOR MAKES MOST OF CHANGES
Bentonville tight end Jack Kraus blocks a Conway defender during the fourth quarter of the 7A playoffs game in Bentonville's Tiger Stadium on Friday November 29, 2013.
BENTONVILLE — One thing was noticeably different about Jack Kraus when he took the field for the first time this season.
Bentonville’s senior tight end didn’t don the No. 83 jersey he wore the past two seasons. Instead, he wore No. 17.
Was there some sort of superstition or a mysterious reason behind the number switch? Not at all.
BENTONVILLE VS. CABOT
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock KICKOFF: 7 p.m. HOOTEN’S RANKINGS: Bentonville is No. 2 in Class 7A; Cabot is No. 1 HOOTEN’S LINE: Cabot by 4 OUR TAKE: Henry Apple — Bentonville 21, Cabot 13. Paul Boyd — Cabot 35, Bentonville 34. Jimmy Carter — Cabot 24, Bentonville 21. Rick Fires — Bentonville 31, Cabot 21. Matt Jones — Bentonville 35, Cabot 21. Paul Nielsen — Bentonville 31, Cabot 10. Chip Souza — Bentonville 21, Cabot 17. Vernon Tarver — Cabot 21, Bentonville 20. Graham Thomas — Bentonville 35, Cabot 28.
“It was because of the size of the jersey,” Kraus said. “The 83 was a large, and I got a little taller and a little bigger. I had to go to the 17 because it was an extra- large jersey.”
The jersey number may have changed, but what remained the same was Kraus’ value to the team this season. He continues to play an integral part of the Tigers’ offense, even though his statistics may not show it.
Kraus (6-foot-6, 236 pounds), who made an oral commitment to Arkansas before the season started, is Bentonville’s third-leading receiver with 10 receptions for 112 yards and one touch- down. Those numbers show a significant drop from last year, where he had 19 catches for 242 yards and four scores.
He admitted some of that had to do with the attention he received from opposing teams, and he saw a lot of double-teams when he went out on pass routes. Another factor, however, had to do with the offensive changes the Tigers did as the season progressed.
“At the start of the season, teams knew who Jack was,
and he was a target for some teams,” Bentonville coach Barry Lunney said. “But by him being there, it helped out our deep passing game with Jimmie Jackson and Cody Scroggins.
“There was also a part of the season when we made the transition to a sophomore quarterback, and we were more devoted to the running game. We needed Jack as an extra run blocker, and he did just that.”
A good illustration of Kraus’ value as a blocker took place during the final six minutes of Bentonville’s 13-10 victory at Rogers Heritage. The Tigers put Kraus with right guard Jackson Hannah and right tackle Ean Pfeifer, then put the ball in the hands of Hekili Keliiliki. Bentonville (10-2) gave the ball to Keliiliki eight straight times and had him run behind that trio. That drive set up Bennett Moehring’s game-tying field goal with 58 seconds left, then the Tigers ran Keliiliki behind those three one more time to set up the winning kick as time expired.
“I think I’ve blocked very well this year, and I’ve given the offense a lot of opportunities to run the ball behind me,” Kraus said. “I feel good that the coaches put their trust in me and running behind me., and I take a lot of pride in it.
“I’ve put a lot of work into it by getting stronger, then working on my fundamentals of blocking. I know that’s what I will be doing a lot of when I get to Arkansas because the coaches there demand on being physical, and I take pride in knowing the team is trusting me to provide that blocking. I love doing it.”