The losses are starting to pile up for the Arkansas-Monticello football team and it is not just reflected by the Boll Weevils’ record.
UAM (1-3) has lost as many quarterbacks as it has games. Sophomore starting quarterback Hunter Leppert is doubtful to today’s home game against Southern Arkansas due to a sternum injury and a swelling in his knee.
“Hunter is probably not going to play this week,” UAM coach Hud Jackson said. “He is beat up pretty bad.”
Earlier in the season, backup freshman quarterback Jacob Lennox dislocated his ankle and he is out for the season.
During preseason camp, junior Canden Dallas, who came to UAM from Itawamba Community College in Mississippi, injured his shoulder and had surgery that cost him his season.
That leaves senior Damon Wicker as the starter and the next quarterback with the X on his back.
“It’s very frustrating,” Jackson said. “We are down three and we will go with what we got.”
Even though, he was well down on the depth chart as a quarterback, Wicker has plenty of experience at the position. The plans was to move Wicker around as a Wildcat quarterback, a running back and wide receiver.
Last year, Wicker split time with Kyle Manning after Leppert suffered a season-ending knee injury against Ouachita Baptist in the third game of the season. He passed for 1,433 yards and 11 touchdowns. He did throw 12 interceptions, but he also rushed for 552 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s got some experience and we won five games with him,” Jackson said. ‘He is very elusive and he brings another dimension to the game. At the beginning of the year, we wanted him to be able to do some other things and get the ball in his hands other ways.”
Wicker has played in three of UAM’s four games so far this season and has passed for 227 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He has also rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown.
With UAM down 17-3 to East Central (Okla.) last week, Wicker filled in for Leppert and hit Skyler Scott for two touchdowns to make it 20-17 in the third quarter.
Wicker also had a key interception in the fourth quarter that led to an East Central touchdown that gave the Tigers a 26-17 that the Weevils could not come back from.
“Damon had a great game in the second half,” Jackson said. “The second half, we made some adjustments and got ourselves back in the game.”
Wicker will now try and lead the team against Southern Arkansas in what is not only a renewed rivalry for the Battle of the Timberlands trophy, but the Weevils need a Great American Conference win to avoid an 0-3 start.
“It’s really important not to start 0-3 and the guys have a sense of urgency and understand what needs to be done,” Jackson said. “They are very well aware of the importance of the game.”
SAU (3-0) is perfect in its two conference games and averages 401 yards per game. The Muleriders are led by quarterback Tyler Sykora, who has passed for 730 yards and 11 touchdowns this year.
Jackson said his team has to get pressure on Sykora in order to slow down the Muleriders’ offense.
“If we don’t get any pressure, he’s pretty good,” Jackson said. “If we don’t get after him, then he will be in our secondary all game.”
Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium.