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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo BADGER RUNNER: Arkadelphia High School running back Zion Hatley (24) carries the ball against Shiloh Christian during a Class 4A semi-final playoff football game Dec. 1, 2018, at Champions Stadium in Springdale. Hatley signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play football at the University of Central Arkansas.

CONWAY -- Two-time state champion Zion Hatley officially signed this week to play college football for Central Arkansas.

Hatley (6-0, 195) was among 25 new additions this week for the Bears. He ran 441 times in his high school career for 3,257 yards and 49 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns.

Arkadelphia struggled to an 0-5 start in 2018 as Hatley and several of his teammates battled early-season injuries. The defending state champion competed against competition from larger classifications in the first three non-conference weeks before taking on 4A-7 conference leaders Nashville (10-3, 5-2) and Joe T. Robinson (12-3, 6-1).

The Badgers rolled off 10 straight victories, becoming the first team in Arkansas high school football to start the season 0-5 and win a state championship. They were also the first team to defeat four No. 1 seeds in the playoffs, including three on the road.

Arkadelphia avenged a 42-14 home loss to Robinson on Oct. 5 with a convincing 28-0 victory in the Class 4A state championship game on Dec. 8 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Hatley ran for 1,733 yards and 35 touchdowns in his junior season. He signed with Central Arkansas over offers from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, South Dakota State and Southeast Missouri State.

Second-year head coach Nathan Brown and his staff added eight mid-year transfers, which included two NCAA Division I transfers from Arkansas, along with 17 high school players. Jarrod Barnes (5-11, 185), of Cabot, and Tobias Enlow (6-2, 205), of North Little Rock, transferred before the start of the spring semester.

The Bears also added former Robinson defensive back Trenton Dunn (6-2, 205) as a mid-year signee. He joined Central Arkansas from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

Another five in-state players were among the 18 other high school signees for Central Arkansas. The signees include Fayetteville quarterback Darius Bowers (6-2, 185), Jacksonville defensive end Marquez Casey (6-3, 245), Benton offensive lineman Josh George (6-3, 310), North Little Rock linebacker Dwain Hunt (6-1, 230) and Bentonville cornerback Donte Jones (5-11, 185).

The signing class included another five players from Texas, four from Florida, three from Mississippi, two from Tennessee and one each from Alabama and Missouri. Five receivers made it the largest group by position.

The Bears signed four defensive backs, four defensive linemen and four linebackers. They also signed three offensive linemen, two running backs and one each at quarterback, tight end and kicker.

Marshun Douglas (5-9, 175) was the team's only other running back signee out of Kirby High School in Memphis, Tenn. He ran for 5,178 yards and 72 touchdowns in his high school career, signing with Central Arkansas over offers from Southeast Missouri State, Tennessee State, Tulsa and UT-Martin.

The Bears were 6-5 last season and 5-4 in the Southland Conference, but they have averaged 8.6 victories in the past three years with consecutive appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Central Arkansas will open the 2019 season on Aug. 31 at Western Kentucky. The team's first home game is scheduled for Sept. 14 against conference opponent Abilene Christian.

Sports on 02/09/2019

Print Headline: Hatley among 25 new UCA signees

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