ARKANSAS (KFSM) - The 7A-West has long been the powerhouse of Arkansas high school football and the 2014 season will be no different.
But two old faces return to make the conference even tougher.
Northside and Southside make their return to the conference after spending the past two seasons in the 7A/6A-Central.
"We’re excited about being back in the west," Southside coach Jeff Williams said. "We were there for 50 years and the last two years changing conferences. Obviously, the 7A-West is the best conference in the state."
Southside was one of the reasons that the 7A-West has grown to such a herculean status. The Rebels played in three title games, winning in 2006, over the past nine years. During that stretch, a team from the conference has won the state's largest classification title. In seven of those seasons, a team from the conference was also the runner-up in the championship game.
"To be in the ball game, you can’t make mistakes," Northside coach Mike Falleur said. "You know it’s going to come down to the end hopefully and you’ve got to make a play or they’re going to make a play."
Bentonville has been in the past four state title games, winning the crown last season, and looks to be the favorite again in the 2014 season. Fayetteville, Har-Ber and Rogers all look to have a say in the league standings but the two Fort Smith schools will complete a brutal seven week stretch for every one in the 7A-West.
"The competition level is so high and it prepares you if you get a chance to get in the playoffs because you’ve been tested before you get there," Williams said. "There are some great teams and some great players, great coaches and I know our kids are excited about getting back into the 7A-West and excited about the challenge."