All the talk in the high school football playoffs is usually about the big boys in the 7A. This week’s slate of games proves the 4A schools in our area are as good as anybody. All four teams still in it are at home this week.
Perhaps the hottest one right now is Booneville. After a one-point loss to Mena a month ago the Bearcats have won their last three games by an average of 21 points. Friday night they host Newport as a seven-point favorite.
Ozark has been the same story. After a close loss to Pea Ridge they have won four straight games by an average of 30 points.
But neither of these teams has been as impressive as Prairie Grove. Ranked number four in the state, their defense has given up a total of 29 points this year. That's the third best total in state history.
Then there's Pea Ridge. They were a two-point underdog to Monticello last week and only beat them 42 to nothing. That earns them another home playoff game this week.
“It's the first time we've done it in Pea Ridge history to have two home games in the playoffs and we're real excited about it,” said Pea Ridge senior Braxton Caudill. “We've got a great team coming to town so we have to prepare for that.”
The reason they're at home is because Heber Springs unexpectedly put a beatdown on Star City 33-7. These are some big boys coming to Pea Ridge Friday night.
“They're very comparable to some of the better teams in our conference like Prairie Grove and Ozark,” said Pea Ridge coach Tony Travis. “They play with a lot of speed and are very physical up front.”
“We're going to have to bring out the intensity level we've had the past couple of games,” said Pea Ridge senior Zach Oldebeken. “We've got to come out the first play and get after it.”
That intensity level was a big reason why they handled Monticello easily 42-0. It sparked them as the underdog last week. They used it as motivation. But this time they are the favorite.
“Hopefully we can have that same energy level we had last Friday night and maybe have that same energy level this Friday night,” said Travis.
There won’t be any lack of emotions. Friday will be the last time Pea Ridge every plays in its current stadium. Next year a brand new one is going up.
“It makes us want to go out, play a great game and finish out real well and make everyone who's played on that field before proud,” said Caudill.
“Having 49 years behind us it makes us want to come out and make them proud and show them what we can do,” said Oldebeken.