Week One Of The FFN Ten: Fort Smith Shines

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)–Everyone loves a good list. And with Football Friday Night bringing you the best high school football highlights each Friday night in the fall, we decided to take our coverage one step further.

Introducing The FFN Ten. Every Tuesday afternoon, you’ll be able to read our five takeaways from the previous week and five notes heading into next week’s games. Without further ado, enjoy.

Five Takeaways From Week One

  1. Fort Smith Turned A Lot Of Heads – Southside and Northside both made the playoffs last season but combined for a record of 7-16. Already, the two Fort Smith schools are nearly halfway to that win total after two weeks of football. Southside went into Centerton and spoiled the opening of Bentonville West’s stadium, hanging 44 points on the Wolverines. Northside has outscored its first two opponents (Heritage & Greenwood) 100-16. Speaking of…
  2. Greenwood’s Regular Season Win Streak Is Over – Rick Jones and the Bulldogs entered the 2018 season not only as the defending 6A state champions, but riding a 33 game regular season win streak. Northside’s 31-16 win ended that impressive run. Before week one, October 17, 2014 was the last Bulldog loss prior to the playoffs in a 38-21 setback at Bryant.
  3. Is Fayetteville Still Flying Under The Radar? – Two games, two impressive offensive performances. Second year coach Billy Dawson has guided the Purple Dogs to a 51-28 win at Saint John Vianney (St. Louis) and opened the home slate by topping nationally ranked Owasso 45-31. Senior QB Darius Bowers’ stat line has been ridiculous so far: 47/62 (76%), 802 yds, 12 TD (9 passing, 3 rushing).
  4. Welcome To The 7A-West, Casey Dick – Perhaps the biggest statement of the week came on Tuesday night, as Van Buren captured the ‘Battle of the Bone’ over rival Alma for the first time since 2010. The game didn’t feel as close as the final score of 48-33, thanks to former Razorback QB Casey Dick. In his first game as a head coach, Dick’s offense looked speedy, creative and flexible. QBs Christian Morrow & Gary Phillips both threw & caught touchdowns in the win.
  5. Two Historically Strong Conferences May Be Down – After two weeks, the 4A-1 is a combined 2-8, and those two wins belong to Lincoln and Berryville. Sure, Prairie Grove, Shiloh Christian & Pea Ridge have played strong non-conference games, but the league as a whole may lack the punch it’s had over the past few seasons. Elsewhere, the 7A-West is just 5-8 with both Bentonville schools sitting at 0-2 and Har-Ber at 0-1. Fayetteville, Springdale and Van Buren lead the way with a combined mark of 5-0.

Five Thoughts On Week Two

  1. Will Brandon Ulmer’s ACL Tear Impact Booneville? – Arkansas State baseball commit and all-state QB Brandon Ulmer suffered a torn ACL in week zero. It didn’t impact the Bearcats on Friday as Booneville rolled rival Ozark 42-20. Evan Schlinker filled in admirably for Ulmer, throwing 3 touchdowns. The non-conference finale for Class 3A No. 1 Booneville is a trip to Pottsville. The Bearcats won 40-19 last season.
  2. Bentonville West Plagued By Injuries – After losing QB Will Jarrett and DL Chris Busch against Owasso, Jadon Jackson was hobbled against Southside. None of the trio has been ruled out for next week’s non-conference finale at Bryant, but without the Jarrett-Jackson combo, the Wolverines offense could struggle to outscore opponents.
  3. Early Struggles For Pea Ridge – The Blackhawks are 0-2 after losses to 5A schools Harrison and Maumelle. Kudos to Stephen Neal for challenging his team early. We knew it would be tough to replace the big names on offense (Sainsbury, Holtgrewe, Winn, Witcher). But a vaunted Pea Ridge defense has allowed 85 points in two weeks. An open week on Friday comes at the perfect time.
  4. Mountainburg’s Offense Is Very Unique – Many high school teams run the triple option. Tom Harrell runs an offshoot called the ‘Empty Spin Cycle’. The 2A Dragons put up 40 points on rival Cedarville in their opener. With the QB-RB combo of Ethan Gregory & Austin Taylor, the Dragons could turn heads all season, including in Friday’s intriguing matchup when 3A Greenland comes to town.
  5. Another Showdown In Sebastian County – Southside hosts Greenwood on Friday with a chance to send the Bulldogs to an 0-2 record. While Deuce Wise and the Northside offense put up 31 on a tough Rick Jones defense, Mavs QB Taye Gatewood is one of the fastest and craftiest signal callers in Arkansas. This will be  a great test for both teams.