2005 was the last year both Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge football like to remember. Prairie Grove hasn't won a conference title since then and Pea Ridge hasn't made the playoffs since then. Friday night they meet as the only undefeated teams left in the conference with the winner firmly in the driver’s seat. It's a situation not many people expected Pea Ridge to be in.
“We thought Ozark was going to be the team to beat,” said Prairie Grove senior quarterback Cooper Winters. “We handled them nicely. Pea Ridge is a good team. Like a lot of people say it's going to be top of the conference here I believe.”
It's not an opinion. It's a fact. Pea Ridge was expected to finish 5th place in the 4A-1. Now if they beat Prairie Grove, the Tigers’ chances of winning an outright title are gone.
“Expected to be out front,” said Prairie Grove head coach Danny Abshier. “They have a lot of seniors. Looking at their scout film they have the same personnel minus one or two guys that they had last year.”
It’s a senior ridden team with two huge playmakers. Austin Easterling at quarterback, Dayton Winn at running back. Both make big plays on defense, too. Just ask Ozark.
“All we hear about is Winn at Pea Ridge,” said Cooper. “People tell us he's the best back in the state. Easterling, I haven't heard that much about. He's that guy you hear about for a while just not much. He's knows what to do.”
Pea Ridge will try to run it down Prairie Grove’s throat. This game will feature two great running backs, not only Pea Ridge's Dayton Winn, but Prairie Groves Weston Bartholomew. So the Tigers defense knows how to stop a good back. They play one in practice every day.
“Listening to coach and playing basic defense; clogging up the holes and making sure we don't get driven back; watching for the ball and don't make any mental mistakes,” said Prairie Grove senior nose guard Jacob Lacey.
A conference championship is on the line, 7:00pm Friday night at Pea Ridge.