FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)--In its 12th year, the Fayetteville Har-Ber rivalry has been as close as possible. The Wildcats hold a 7-6 head to head lead over the Purple Dogs.
"They have good coaching over there, we have good coaching over here. And we all know each other, so it's a competitive game," said Fayetteville senior Cody Gray.
"They're a good football team, you start 16 seniors been playing a long time together. Coach Wood and Coach Fimple, those guys do a tremendous job," head coach Billy Dawson said.
But recently the teams have reversed momentum with HarBer losing two straight after opening 5-0 and Fayetteville winning back to back games following a 1-4 start.
"When we have a little bit of adversity, let's just stay the course and keep grinding," Har-Ber coach Chris Wood said. "It's gonna turn our way at some point cause our kids are resilient, they've been fighting, they compete extremely hard for us."
"They have more momentum than us coming in because we've lost two games in a row," Wildcat senior running back Logan Collins added.
"After a couple losses, people doubted us but over here all of us are buying in," Gray said.
Even though the Purple Dogs six wins have come by an average of 21 points and the Wildcats seven wins by an average of 11 points, the average score of all 13 meetings comes out to 31-27 in favor of Fayetteville. So it's pretty clear what the key to Friday's game is.
"Try to minimize the mistakes. I mean we've had eight turnovers in the last two games [a 24-21 loss at Bentonville and a 37-19 loss to Bentonville West]. We've lost the field position battle the last two games," said Wood.
Collins agreed, "If we just win the turnover battle like Coach Wood says, we're gonna win the game."
"The game Friday night's gonna come down to who can tackle who and who doesn't turn it over," Dawson summarized.
"All of us believe that we're gonna win a ring again, and we're putting the work in to go 1-0 each week," said Gray.
Fayetteville has won five state titles since Har-Ber's inception as a school in 2006. The Wildcats lone state title was in 2009. The winner of the tilt has the inside track for the 7A West's three seed in the playoffs, while the loser most likely captures the fourth seed (both would host first round games). Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Harmon Field.