Chris Murray: High School Playoffs Week 3 – Good Teams Going Home


Preview of the Arkansas High School Playoffs Week 3

The schedule-makers at the Arkansas Activities Association did not do Arkadelphia or Warren any favors when the Class 4A playoff bracket was laid out. Of course, maybe no one could have predicted that Arkadelphia would have been one of the most dominating teams in the state. Either way, one of the aforementioned conference-winners is going home this Friday.

The Badgers (12-0) have been ranked no. 1 in our poll since very early in the season. They defeated Benton and Sheridan from Class 6A, Hot Springs from Class 5A, and then swept through the rigorous 7-4A schedule, behind an explosive offense powered by quarterback Jakahari Howell and running back Kris Oliver.

“Warren is a great football team, and they’ve had great success in the past,” said Arkadelphia coach J.R. Eldridge. “One of the things we’ve tried to do is treat every opponent the same. There are good teams in every classification.”

Warren lost all three of its non-conference games, all to powerhouse teams in Fayetteville, Pulaski Academy and Camden Fairview. The Lumberjacks then proceeded to run off eight straight wins, including an undefeated 8-4A slate. Bo Hembree’s team, ranked no. 3 in Class 4A, is a traditional power in Class 4A and has made Bradley County a difficult place for visitors.

“I think our players have done a great job of not letting other factors affect how we play the game,” Eldridge said. “Our fans have traveled really well, and our players are excited to play another week of football. Hopefully, being on the road will not be a problem.”


When Cabot defeated North Little Rock 48-32 on September 27, few would have predicted there would be a rematch in the Class 7A semifinals, yet there they are, meeting in the semis Friday at Cabot. That was the Charging Wildcats’ second straight loss, and their first game since standout back Juan Day was lost for the season with a knee injury.

North Little Rock, no. 4 in Class 7A, has recovered and now won eight straight games. The latest was a 28-7 win at Bryant, in which Deion Tidwell rushed for 346 yards. Cabot, meanwhile has been steady and strong, undefeated at 11-0. It’s a different Charging Wildcats team than they faced in September, but Mike Malham’s disciplined squad does not figure to overlook NLR.

“We had to play Central again, and now we have to play North Little Rock again,” Malham said. “We’re going to give it everything we’ve got. That’s all we can do.”


The deeper we get in the playoffs, the better the matchups become:
Conway at Bentonville – Bentonville has dominated the 7A-West for years now, but the conference may have been down this year. Conway has looked like a world-beater at times. Are the Wampus Cats ready to take that next step?
Batesville at Alma – Arguably the two best in Class 5A meet in the semifinals in Crawford County. Both teams possess stout defenses, and the first one to blink may miss out on a trip to War Memorial Stadium.
Pine Bluff at Greenwood – The Zebras could not prevent the Bulldogs from claiming their third straight state title last season, even after they had moved up to Class 6A. Is there any reason to believe they can derail the Greenwood train this time, now that the winning streak has hit 50?
Bearden at East Poinsett County – Both teams have been ranked in our poll at time this season, and EPC currently sits at no. 2 in Class 2A, while Bearden is no. 4. The Warriors are unbeaten, while the Bears’ lone loss is to defending champion Junction City. Bearden, which has outscored its two playoff opponents 85-0, would like nothing more than a rematch with the Dragons.
Charleston at Harding Academy – This is another case of two of the best teams in a class meeting earlier than they maybe should, thanks to how the brackets were drawn up. Charleston is no. 1 in our poll, and yet is traveling to Searcy to meet no. 2 Harding Academy. Neither team has lost a game, and Tigers quarterback Ty Storey, who threw for four TDs against McGehee, could be the difference.

Complete Arkansas High School Playoffs Week 3 Brackets are available for your review and reference here.


Spotted last week: The Cabot Panthers dominated Little Rock Central, 35-7, in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A playoffs. Cabot failed to complete a pass, but it did not matter, as the Panthers continue to look like a real threat to wrest the 7A title from the West. The Panthers rushed for more than 400 yards, with Zach Launius accounting more than 200 and five touchdowns. The Tigers had a strong finish to their season, and things appear to be looking up for Scooter Register’s squad, which defeated Fayetteville in the first round of the playoffs. Register has won and won big at other schools, and much has been expected of him at Central. That sleeping giant may be awakening.

Class 7A
1. Bentonville, vs. Conway
2. Cabot, vs. North Little Rock
3. Conway, at Bentonville
4. North Little Rock, at Cabot
5. Springdale Har-Ber, season over

Class 6A
1. Greenwood, vs. Pine Bluff
2. El Dorado, vs. Jonesboro
3. Pine Bluff, at Greenwood
4. Jonesboro, at El Dorado
5. Lake Hamilton, season over

Class 5A
1. Batesville, at Alma
2. Alma, vs. Batesville
3. Morrilton, at Hope
4. Hope, vs. Hope
5. Pulaski Academy, season over

Class 4A
1. Arkadelphia, at Warren
2. Pine Bluff Dollarway, vs. Star City
3. Warren, vs. Arkadelphia
4. Booneville, vs. Lincoln
5. Valley View, vs. Maumelle

Class 3A
1. Charleston, at Harding Academy
2. Harding Academy, vs. Charleston
3. Hoxie, vs. Earle
4. Glen Rose, vs. Green Forest
5. Smackover, vs. Episcopal Collegiate

Class 2A
1. Junction City, vs. Hector
2. East Poinsett County, vs. Bearden
3. Des Arc, vs. Strong
4. Bearden, at East Poinsett County
5. Carlisle, at Magnet Cove

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