ARKANSAS (KFSM) - If you like your football conference to have continuity then you probably aren't a fan of the 7A/6A-Central.
Since the state's largest classification split following the 2005 season, the league has been the one that seems to come and go with the same frequency as the graduating classes of it's member schools.
This cycle is no different than in years past as far as new teams are concerned but there is no more than just a pair of local teams competing for the conference championship.
"It’s a good opportunity for us to play some teams in the league that are around here and I think people in the area are going to enjoy seeing us in the same conference with Alma, Greenwood and Siloam Springs," Van Buren coach Brooks Coatney said. "The only thing that has been the same about the conference probably the last five or six years is the name. You can't really say central or even west and it be the same as it was maybe the previous time."
"The competition level, we’re going to have to be sure we concentrate on one week at a time," Alma coach Doug Loughridge said. "Each week we’re going to have to be sure. There is no team you can overlook."
Alma, Greenwood and Siloam Springs are used to facing one another as they were members of the 5A-West as recently as three seasons ago. Van Buren has played Alma and Siloam Springs in recent history as well as holding a scrimmage against Greenwood over the past few seasons.
The Panthers moved away from the 7A-West where they had been the past two seasons but that doesn't mean things are easier.
"You’re looking at playing Greenwood and Alma, you’re looking at, historically, two of the top programs in the state," Siloam Springs coach Bryan Ross said. "They just happen to be in our classification."
Greenwood enters it's third year as a 6A school and is the only local school to have played in the 7A/6A-Central conference over the past two years but the changes aren't all that different for the Bulldogs.
"It’s a great conference," Greenwood coach Rick Jones said. "Very, very competitive from top to bottom. I think when you look at the strength of the conference from one through eight, it’s going to be really, really challenging and it’s going to be a lot of fun."