Week Four Of The FFN Ten: Conference Play Starts With A Bang
Whether your school entered conference play 3-0 or 0-3, it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The next seven weeks are a mad dash to win games against rivals and secure positioning for a playoff spot. Six teams make it in each 7A & 6A conference while four teams make it from each league in the 5A, 4A, 3A & 2A. Here’s what you missed on Friday night.
Five Takeaways From Week Four
- Bentonville West Is Still Very Talented – Sure the Wolverines got off to an 0-3 start, mostly due to QB Will Jarrett’s injury. But Bentonville West lucked out traveling to Fayetteville a week after QB Darius Bowers hurt his knee. In a battle of backup quarterbacks, Dalton McDonald was a little bit better than Hank Gibbs, and West got a much needed 31-28 win. Suddenly, the Purple Dogs are 0-1 in conference play. West moves to the top of the standings thanks to some great play from recent SEC commits Jadon Jackson (Ole Miss) and Kendall Young (Vanderbilt).
- Bentonville Is Back – Yes, I could have coupled these first two together. But they both impressed me enough to earn their own takeaway. The Tigers began last season 1-2 and rallied to win the 7A-West en route to a state runner up finish. With Jody Grant’s team one step down at 0-3, no one knew what to expect when Har-Ber came to Tiger Stadium. Bentonville won 44-8, sending a message to the rest of the state.
- A Number Of 4-0 Teams – Among the unblemished after a quartet of games…Springdale, Lincoln, Elkins, Booneville, Mansfield & Lamar. The latter three are part of a talented 3A-1. Elkins has held serve with an explosive offense. Lincoln’s defense has allowed just 40 points in four games. Zak Clark’s Red Dogs are rolling on both sides of the ball, and rallied from an early 14-0 deficit to stomp Heritage in the 7A-West opener.
- An Important Win For Van Buren – The Pointers flexed their muscles in the conference opener with a 30-20 win at Rogers. Looking at the 7A-West, there are likely three teams fighting for the last playoff spot (Van Buren, Rogers & Heritage). With a victory over the Mounties, Van Buren positions itself to snag the six seed come early November.
- Siloam Matches Win Total After Four Games – In 2016 & 2017, the Panthers were 3-17. First year coach Brandon Craig has guided Siloam Springs to three wins in his first four games. Given, the 6A-West schedule ramps up after a win over Sheridan. But with RB Kaiden Thrailkill off to a hot start, it’s wouldn’t be surprising to see the Panthers in the playoffs come week eleven.
Five Thoughts On Week Five
- Can The Fort Smith Schools Bounce Back? – Northside’s offense stalled in a 16-7 loss at Bryant, while Southside was blitzed at home by Conway 45-19. The Grizzlies are back in Little Rock at Central while the Mavs host Cabot. For each team, avoiding an 0-2 start to 7A-Central play is vital.
- Status Of Area’s Top Quarterbacks – Will Jarrett of Bentonville West injured his leg in week zero at Owasso and won’t be able to put weight on it until this week. Darius Bowers got hurt in Fayetteville’s win over Bryant and is still in a left knee brace. With Jarrett and Bowers, the Wolverines and Purple Dogs are state title threats if not favorites. Without them, it’s a completely different story.
- Can Lincoln Continue It’s Hot Start? – The Wolves topped Gravette 19-7 on a rainy Friday to begin the year 4-0, 1-0 in 4A-1 play. Now Don Harrison takes his team to Pea Ridge after the Blackhawks have won their last two games by a combined 69-7 over Farmington and Gentry. It’s an important game both for momentum and playoff positioning.
- Most Intriguing Game? – I’ve pinned two matchups that really interest me. Springdale at Bentonville West. The Wolverines are finally in the win column after a nice effort at Fayetteville. Springdale is 4-0 for the second straight season and rolling offensively with Garrett Vaughan and Har-Ber transfers Grant Allen and Brock Pounders leading the way. The other matchup takes us to the 3A-1 for Greenland at Mansfield. The Tigers are 4-0 and have blown out all four opponents. Lee Larkan’s Pirates pulled off a 25-12 win in the rain over Charleston and sit at 3-1, attempting to get back to the playoffs.
- Mother Nature, Please Spare Us – We’ve had five Friday nights of high school football and so far the weather has been pretty bad on two of them. Besides us reporters getting wet and having to take extra care to protect the cameras, the rain doesn’t allow teams to execute or attempt their entire game plan. Let’s cross our fingers for a rain/lightning/mud free next couple of weeks at least.