The 7A-West championship is once again on the line when Bentonville and Fayetteville meet on Friday. The past two years, Bentonville has defeated Fayetteville to win the conference title, only to have the Bulldogs turn the tables and beat the Tigers for the Class 7A state championship.
Bentonville is undefeated in conference play after a 38-0 thrashing of Sprindgale last week. The Tigers had a scare in week 7 against Rogers Heritage, but look to be battle-tested heading into the postseason, thanks in no small part to their insanely tough non-conference schedule.
The contest lost some of its luster as Fayetteville was knocked off in overtime by Springdale Har-Ber, 34-31. Fayetteville trailed 24-3 in that game, only to storm back and force overtime. The Wildcats took the lead in overtime with a field goal, and then intercepted Fayetteville’s Mitch Marshall to seal the victory. That win could bolster the playoff chances of Har-Ber, which was highly ranked earlier in the season before stumbling.
A lot of teams will see their seasons end this week. Roughly half the teams are playing on Thursday this week, so check the schedules of your local teams before heading out to the stadium.
Last week’s “Game of the Year” lived up to its billing. Conway had Greenwood on the ropes, but as the saying goes, you have to knock out a champion. The Bulldogs stayed close, and used three Kevin Jones field goals, the last coming with two seconds left, to win their 47th straight game, 23-21.
Conway looked to be in control of the game at times, thanks to its power running game. But Greenwood forced some key turnovers and took advantage. Expect both of these teams to be playing well into November.
Other key matchups to watch this week:
• Alma at Shiloh Christian – The Saints look to prevent the Airedales from finishing a perfect 5A-West season and are after a share of the league crown themselves.
• Harding Academy at Barton – The Wildcats have a chance to cap a perfect regular season and win the 2-3A title, while Barton can create a potential three-way tie (adding Episcopal Collegiate to the mix) by knocking off Harding Academy.
• Malvern at Arkadelphia – Only the Leopards remain between the Badgers and an undefeated regular season. Malvern has dispatched with Nashville and Ashdown in recent weeks, and can win the 8-4A conference crown itself with a victory over no. 1 Arkadelphia.
• Junction City vs. idle – The Dragons, defending Class 2A state champs, are undefeated and find themselves in an unusual situation. By winning the 8-2A conference, Junction City earned a first-round bye in next week’s playoffs, but Junction City will actually get two weeks off due to Norphlet, who it was scheduled to play in week 10, cancelling its season.
Spotted last week: The Greenwood Bulldogs showed the mettle that has led to that 47-game winning streak. Greenwood trailed for much of the game, but put together a clutch drive in the final minutes, converting a pair of fourth downs to keep the drive alive. That led to Kevin Jones’ game-winning chip shot field goal. It is amazing what coach Rick Jones (father of Kevin) has built and sustained in Sebastian County.
1. Bentonville, at Fayetteville
2. Cabot, at Searcy
3. Fayetteville, vs. Bentonville
4. Conway, at Little Rock Catholic (Thursday)
5. North Little Rock, at Little Rock Central (Thursday)
1. Greenwood, vs. Russellville
2. El Dorado, at Bryant
3. Pine Bluff, at Benton (Thursday)
4. Russellville, at Greenwood
5. Jonesboro, at Marion
1. Pulaski Academy, vs. Jacksonville
2. Batesville, at Beebe
3. Alma, vs. Shiloh Christian
4. Camden Fairview, at Watson Chapel
5. Hope, vs. Magnolia
1. Arkadelphia, vs. Malvern
2. Pine Bluff Dollarway, vs. Heber Springs (Thursday)
4. Warren, vs. Lake Village (Thursday)
5. Valley View, at Gosnell (Thursday)
5. Malvern, at Arkadelphia
1. Charleston, vs. Mansfield
2. Harding Academy, at Barton (Thursday)
4. Episcopal Collegiate, vs. Riverview
5. Barton, vs. Harding Academy (Thursday)
5. Hoxie, vs. Harrisburg (Thursday)
1. Junction City, idle
2. East Poinsett County, vs. Marked Tree (Thursday)
3. Dierks, at Murfreesboro (Thursday)
4. Gurdon, vs. Foreman (Thursday)
5. Des Arc, vs. Hazen