BENTONVILLE (KFSM)--Over the past eight years, Fayetteville and Bentonville have combined to win 82% of games leading up to their regular season meeting. The Purple Dogs are 41-7 in such games while the Tigers sit at 38-10.
"This is like the game everyone everywhere wants to see cause we're usually the two best teams in the conference," Bentonville senior Collin Snieski said.
"A lot of people there, it's a really good crowd. It's a rivalry no matter what the record is or anything. It's supposed to be a big game," said Kris Mulinga, a Fayetteville wide receiver.
But for the first time this century, both schools have a losing record (1-2) entering the matchup.
"I know they're sitting on 1-2 like we are, it's not normal for either one of us to be sitting in that position. I think a lot of that is because of the non-conference scheudules for both programs," Tigers coach Jody Grant said.
"We're kind of both in the same boat, we both need a win," added Purple Dogs head coach Billy Dawson, a Bentonville graduate.
But the losses have been very different for each side. The Tigers have been outscored by 46 points in losses to Kansas City Rockhurst 35-8 and Conway 36-15.
"We've got ten turnovers in three games. You can't win football games doing that. I don't think that's a secret. Everybody on our staff, everybody on our team and our community understand that. Obviously we gotta cut down on penalties," Grant said.
On the other hand, Fayetteville lost by a single point in back-to-back overtime games. 38-37 on a missed two-point converstion to Bryant, and 34-33 on a missed extra point to Dallas Bishop Dunne.
"I think our effort's been wonderful. So if we can play with the same effort and clean up some self inflicted wounds so to speak and match those two things, it's gonna be a good night," Dawson said.
The rivals have met in twice each of the last three seasons and seventeen times over the past ten years. Fayetteville (2007, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016) and Bentonville (2008, 2010, 2013, 2014) have won the last seven 7A state championships and nine of the past ten.