Chris Murray: Arkansas High School Football Playoffs – Key Matchups


The Bentonville Tigers went on the road and defeated the Fayetteville Bulldogs 35-21 to claim their seventh consecutive 7A-West Conference title. That highlighted week 10 of the Arkansas high school football season, the final week of regular-season play.

Bentonville and Fayetteville are once again on opposite sides of the Class 7A playoff bracket, and thus could meet for the third straight year in the championship game. The past two years, Fayetteville has avenged regular-season losses by upsetting Bentonville to win consecutive state championships.

There’s a long way to go before another rematch, though. With a win Friday against Little Rock Central, Fayetteville would meet Cabot, the unbeaten no. 1 seed from the Central. Also on the Bulldogs’ side of the bracket is under-the-radar Bryant, and North Little Rock, which has rebounded from the season-ending loss of star running back Juan Day to win six straight games.

As for Bentonville, it could potentially face Conway, which plays an extremely physical style and a dangerous Springdale Har-Ber team.


In Class 6A of the Arkansas high school football playoffs, it truly appears to be Greenwood and everyone else. The Bulldogs have won 48 straight games, and it’s anyone’s guess who might stand in their way of winning their fourth straight state title.

El Dorado, Lake Hamilton and Pine Bluff have all shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season, but have also beaten up on each other. With no real favorite out of the 7A/6A-South, it is hard to tell if that is due to parity, or just that there is no real standout.

Of course, this time of year reveals the ridiculousness of the Arkansas Activities Association having seven high school classifications (six for football). In Class 6A, all 16 teams make the playoffs. So, this season, you have situations where an 0-10 Mountain Home team and a 1-9 Little Rock Fair team both are rewarded with playoff spots. It necessarily cheapens a state championship.


Batesville and Pulaski Academy butted heads last season in a semifinal game in Little Rock. Those two teams could be on a collision course this season for a Class 5A state title. Alma, Hope, Morrilton and others could all very well have a say about that, though.

Classes 4A, 3A and 2A all feature and extra round of playoffs, so we’ll take a more in-depth look at those playoff pictures next week.

Here is a link to the complete brackets for the Arkansas high school playoffs.

Key matchups to watch this week:

  • Rogers Heritage at North Little Rock – The War Eagles gave Bentonville the toughest test of any in-state competition, losing only 13-10. They could pose a serious threat to a resurgent Charging Wildcats team. North Little Rock was considered a legit state title contender before Juan Day’s injury and a loss to Cabot.
  • Rogers at Fort Smith Southside – These may be two teams heading in opposite directions. The Mounties seemed to finish on a high note, beating Heritage to go 7-3. The Rebels looked like contenders early in the season but were dismantled by Conway and stumbled to the finish line.
  • Benton at Russellville – Someone in Class 6A will surely step up to challenge Greenwood, and it could be a team like the Panthers of the Cyclones (though they are on the opposite side of the bracket). Both teams have the talent to make a deep run in the playoffs.
  • Shiloh Christian at Wynne – The Saints came up short in their winner-take-all clash with Alma last week. As a result, Shiloh fell to the third seed from the 5A-West and has to travel across the state to meet the Yellowjackets, whose lone league loss was to Batesville.


Spotted last week: With roughly half the teams playing on Thursday, last week I was lucky enough to catch two games, including two who will match up in this week’s first round of the playoffs. Greenbrier completed a strong finish to the season with a 48-6 thrashing of Faulkner County rival Vilonia. On Friday, Batesville completed a perfect conference season with a 45-14 beating of Beebe. As a result, the Panthers will head to Batesville for a first-round matchup on Friday. Randy Tribble and Dave King are two of the best coaches in Class 5A, and this should be better than a standard no. 1 vs. no. 4 seed contest.



Class 7A
1. Bentonville, bye
2. Cabot, bye
3. Fayetteville, bye
4. North Little Rock, vs. Rogers Heritage
5. Conway, bye

Class 6A
1. Greenwood, vs. Little Rock Fair
2. El Dorado, vs. Mountain Home
3. Pine Bluff, vs. Little Rock Hall
4. Lake Hamilton, vs. Marion
5. Jonesboro, vs. Sheridan

Class 5A
1. Pulaski Academy, vs. Watson Chapel
2. Batesville, vs. Greenbrier
3. Alma, vs. Beebe
4. Camden Fairview, vs. Helena-West Helena Central
5. Hope, vs. Sylvan Hills

Class 4A
1. Arkadelphia, vs. Dumas
2. Pine Bluff Dollarway, vs. Jonesboro Westside
3. Warren, bye
4. Prairie Grove, vs. Pulaski Robinson
5. Gosnell, bye

Class 3A
1. Charleston, vs. Benton Harmony Grove
2. Harding Academy, bye
3. Barton, at Lamar
4. Hoxie, vs. Elkins
5. Glen Rose, bye

Class 2A
1. Junction City, bye
2. East Poinsett County, vs. Mineral Springs
3. Dierks, vs. Salem
4. Gurdon, vs. Bigelow
5. Des Arc, bye

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