Chris Murray: Arkansas High School Playoffs – Central Stuns Fayetteville; Rankings


Arkansas High School Playoffs

For the most part, form held true in the first week of the Arkansas high school playoffs. The big exception came in Fayetteville, where the two-time defending Class 7A state champions were stunned by Little Rock Central 34-28.

Despite being a team with much youth, Fayetteville won its first eight games of the season and appeared to be a legitimate threat for a three-peat. But the Bulldogs lost to Springdale Har-Ber and conference champ Bentonville to close out the regular season. On Friday, Fayetteville committed seven turnovers, the last of which led to the game-winning touchdown on a pass from Cooper Westbrook to Logan Morgane.

For Little Rock Central, the win was a big step in a return to glory. The Tigers had not won a playoff game since winning consecutive state titles in 2003 and 2004 under legendary coach Bernie Cox. After that, Central went on a steady decline. Scooter Register took over in 2010 and has rebuilding since. Register has a long history of winning at numerous schools, but this victory seemed ahead of schedule.

The Tigers get a rematch with Cabot, which it lost to 35-20 on Oct. 18 at Cabot. The Panthers are undefeated and got a bye in the first round.

Central was the only road team to win in Class 7A. In Class 6A, Benton, Little Rock Parkview and Siloam Springs each won away from home. Meanwhile, in Class 5A, all home teams held serve.


Class 4A, Class 3A and Class 2A are running at full strength this week, after two teams in each classification received byes last week. In Class 4A, Arkadelphia has been the clear-cut best team all season. It gets Newport at home, with a possible trip to Warren awaiting next weekend. Prairie Grove and Lonoke are also dangerous on that half of the bracket, along with Valley View. Gosnell, Pine Bluff Dollarway and Malvern are legitimate threats in the lower half, not to mention unbeaten Booneville.

In Class 3A, Harding Academy and Charleston are both unbeaten and on a collision course for Nov. 29. The lower half of the bracket features some surprise teams, including Glen Rose and Episcopal Collegiate. Class 3A could be the most wide-open of the divisions.

England and McCrory highlighted the first week of the Class 2A playoffs, where the Lions defeated the Jaguars 66-64 in four overtimes. Defending champion Junction City, Des Arc and East Poinsett County look like favorites to raise the trophy at War Memorial Stadium.


By this point, every game should be a solid matchup, but here are a few that look particularly tasty:
North Little Rock at Bryant – The Hornets are one of the best-kept secrets in the state, earning a bye in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. Meanwhile, the Charging Wildcats have quietly rebuilt their season after a couple of early losses and season-ending injury to Juan Day, and has won seven straight games.
Lake Hamilton at Jonesboro – Aside from Greenwood, Class 6A has been one question mark after another. Both the Wolves and Hurricane have looked like contenders after different times. Will one of these teams step up and make a run at the Bulldogs.
Valley View at Prairie Grove – Both these teams have been ranked at one time or another this season, but each comes from a conference that is considered soft. The winner could make a deep run in Class 4A.
Gurdon at Junction City – It’s no. 4 at no. 1 in the second round. The Dragons are the defending state champs, but are coming off a two-week layoff, thanks to Norphlet canceling its season and a first-round bye. That could make them ripe for an upset at the hands of the Go-Devils.
Barton at Hoxie – This is another case of two ranked teams meeting early, as No. 3 Barton meets No. 4 Hoxie. The Bears have shown the ability to play with anyone in the state, but can they do it on the road.

Here is a link to the complete Arkansas High School Football Playoffs Round 2 Brackets.


Spotted last week: The Morrilton Devil Dogs showed why they are one of the most explosive offensive teams in Class 5A, if not in all classifications. Morrilton, the second seed from the 5A-West, erupted for 35 points in the second quarter, on its way to a 56-25 win over Nettleton. The plucky Raiders made a game if it early, trailing just 14-10 behind the throwing and running of quarterback Dustin Dubar. But Morrilton forced five first-half turnovers on its way to a 49-18 halftime lead. The Devil Dogs have a tough draw this week, as they face Pulaski Academy, the no. 1 team in Class 5A. Look for that to be a shootout.

Class 7A
1. Bentonville, vs. Fort Smith Southside
2. Cabot, vs. Little Rock Central
3. Conway, vs. Springdale Har-Ber
4. North Little Rock, at Bryant
5. Bryant, vs. North Little Rock

Class 6A
1. Greenwood, vs. Little Rock Parkview
2. El Dorado, vs. Benton
3. Pine Bluff, vs. Siloam Springs
4. Jonesboro, vs. Lake Hamilton
5. Lake Hamilton, at Jonesboro

Class 5A
1. Pulaski Academy, vs. Morrilton
2. Batesville, vs. Camden Fairview
3. Alma, vs. Little Rock Mills
4. Camden Fairview, at Batesville
5. Hope, vs. Wynne

Class 4A
1. Arkadelphia, vs. Newport
2. Pine Bluff Dollarway, vs. Ashdown
3. Warren, vs. Dardanelle
4. Prairie Grove, vs. Valley View
5. Gosnell, vs. Star City

Class 3A
1. Charleston, vs. Mansfield
2. Harding Academy, at Barton (Thursday)
3. Barton, at Hoxie
4. Hoxie, vs. Barton
5. Glen Rose, vs. Lavaca

Class 2A
1. Junction City, vs. Gurdon
2. East Poinsett County, vs. Hazen
3. Dierks, vs. Strong
4. Gurdon, at Junction City
5. Des Arc, vs. Brinkley

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