Chris Murray: Greenwood at Conway Showdown Set; New Rankings


Greenwood at Conway

The biggest game to date in this high school football season will take place Friday in Conway. That’s when the 7-1 Wampus Cats will host the undefeated Greenwood Bulldogs, winners of their last 46 straight games.

Conway has been on a roll, winning five straight conference games following a loss at Cabot on Sept. 20. That included a 37-7 thrashing of Fort Smith Southside two weeks ago. That same Southside team had a 14-point lead on Greenwood last week, only to see the Bulldogs rally and win on a field goal in the final seconds.

Greenwood has not lost a game since 2009. The Bulldogs won consecutive Class 5A titles in 2010 and 2011, and then moved up to 6A last year and didn’t miss a beat, defeating Pine Bluff for a state championship. Rick Jones’ Bulldogs are 8-0, and look to be the clear favorites to claim another state title, as the rest of Class 6A has been hard to gauge. The Bulldogs have hit another gear since the return of quarterback Jabe Burgess, who has missed parts of the season with foot and hip injuries.

The Wampus Cats have a physical power running game, with a pair of quality backs in Karlil Johnson and Steven Chamorro. Sophomore Breylin Smith is blossoming into a big-play quarterback, seemingly improving from week to week. But it’s the improved Conway defense, which tormented Southside’s Isaac Jackson, which will make the difference. Look for Conway to snap Greenwood’s amazing streak.

It does merit a mention, that though these are two of the better teams in the state, and the game will provide a measuring stick for both teams, it probably won’t have any real impact on seedings for the Class 7A and Class 6A playoffs.


There were a number of upsets in Week 8. Hope held on for a 17-12 win over previously unbeaten and second-ranked Camden Fairview. Barton, fresh off a whupping of Mayflower the week before, went into Little Rock and fell to Episcopal Collegiate, 25-19. Springdale Har-Ber, once considered a legit contender in Class 7A, gave up 550 yards rushing and fell to a Rogers team that came into the game 1-3 in the 7A-West.


Other key matchups to watch this week:
• Hope at White Hall – The Bobcats stunned the defending 5A champ Camden Fairview, and now gets a matchup with White Hall that could determine the winner of the 5A-South.
• Benton at El Dorado – The Wildcats are suddenly in charge of the 7A/6A-South, and have a long tradition of winning they appear to be reverting to. Benton is no pushover, and anything can happen in this crazy conference.
• Bearden at Gurdon – The Bears and Go-Devils are a combined 13-2 this season, and they meet in a rare late-season non-conference game. This could be a preview of a rematch later on in November.
• Fayetteville at Springdale Har-Ber – The Bulldogs are unbeaten with a conference championship matchup with Bentonville set for Nov. 8. Har-Ber has underachieved, but the Bulldogs can’t look ahead to next week, or they will fall from the ranks of the unbeaten.


Spotted last week: Harding Academy and Mayflower put on quite an aerial display last Friday, combining for 917 yards passing. Alex Francis completed 24 of 31 passes for 488 yards and six touchdowns. The younger brother of Will Francis, who left Harding Academy with numerous state championship and MVP awards in multiple sports, Alex Francis favorite target was Kohl Blickenstaff. That duo hooked up for nine passes, 244 yards and three scores. Mayflower’s Adam Dycus passed 30 of 45 for 429 yards and three touchdowns, but his Eagles could not convert in the red zone, as the Wildcats won, 45-21.


Class 7A
1. Bentonville, vs. Springdale
2. Fayetteville, at Springdale Har-Ber
3. Cabot, at Jonesboro
4. Conway, vs. Greenwood
5. North Little Rock, vs. Mountain Home

Class 6A
1. Greenwood, at Conway
2. El Dorado, vs. Benton
3. Lake Hamilton, vs. Bryant
4. Jonesboro, vs. Cabot
5. Pine Bluff, vs. Sheridan

Class 5A
1. Pulaski Academy, at Sylvan Hills
2. Batesville, vs. Greene County Tech
3. Alma, at Greenbrier
4. Camden Fairview, vs. Hot Springs
5. White Hall, vs. Hope

Class 4A
1. Arkadelphia, at Bauxite
2. Pine Bluff Dollarway, at Southside Batesville
3. Hamburg, vs. Warren
4. Warren, at Hamburg
5. Valley View, at Brookland

Class 3A
1. Charleston, at Cedarville
2. Harding Academy, vs. Perryville
3. Smackover, vs. McGehee
4. Episcopal Collegiate, at Mayflower
5. Barton, at Bald Knob

Class 2A
1. Junction City, vs. Hermitage
2. Carlisle, vs. Des Arc
3. Bearden, at Gurdon
4. East Poinsett County, at Salem
5. Dierks, at Spring Hill

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