Week Six Of The FFN Ten: Conference Play Ramps Up
Entering the first Friday in October, every team was halfway through their schedule and two games into conference play. Week six in many ways is a swing week. With just four games remaining, a win or loss last Friday could determine momentum the rest of the season.
Five Takeaways From Week Six
- The Unbeatens Remain Perfect – Elkins routed Waldron, Booneville beat up on Greenland, Lamar shut down West Fork, Mansfield stymied Charleston and Poteau took down Central. All five of those schools move to 6-0. Sallisaw Central had a bye week and remains at 5-0.
- Instant Classic Alert: Springdale Beats Har-Ber – Jay Burn ran over 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. His final score put Har-Ber in control 42-28 on the road with under 10 minutes to play. Then Grant Allen stepped up his game and found Connor Sikes not once, but twice inside the final three minutes. The latter score came with 9 seconds to play, and Zak Clark elected to go for two and the win. It worked and Springdale ended an 11 year drought against Har-Ber. Rivalry reborn.
- Mansfield’s Run Has Been For Real – Plenty of people were skeptical about the Tigers 4-0 start to the season. But Craig Bentley’s team has backed that up with wins over conference foes Greenland and Charleston. The Tiger offense runs through QB Ethan Stovall, but the defense allowing just 10 points to perennial contender Charleston turned heads.
- Rick Jones, Coaching Legend – Greenwood’s otherwise pedestrian 42-7 win over Siloam Springs will always be memorable for Rick Jones. The Bulldog head coach won his 300th career game, number 168 at Greenwood. Jones cut his teeth at Edmond, Union and Broken Arrow in Oklahoma before coming on at Greenwood in 2004. Since then, the Bulldogs have been the class of Arkansas high school football, winning seven state championships across classes 5A & 6A.
- Shiloh Christian Is The Team To Beat In The 4A-1 – Before the season, I picked the Saints to win the conference, based on the offensive talent returning and too many question marks in Prairie Grove and Pea Ridge. I’m way more confident about that pick after Shiloh’s 56-14 win over Prairie Grove. Eli Reece is coming into his own and went 12 of 16 for 5 touchdowns. Micah Button and Blake Thomson had 2nd half pick-sixes and the Tigers fumbled three straight kickoffs. Shiloh’s biggest remaining test is week ten at Pea Ridge.
Five Thoughts On Week Seven
- The 3A-1 Will Be Decided The Next Three Weeks – Mansfield plays at Booneville before hosting Lamar. The Warriors welcome Greenland on Friday, then get the Tigers and Bearcats back to back. Can the No. 1 team in 3A hold up against tougher competition without QB Brandon Ulmer?
- Will We See Another 7A-West Title Game? – Last year, Bentonville and West squared off on the final day of the regular season with 6-0 conference records. After both schools went 0-3 in non-conference play, the Tigers and Wolverines are each 3-0 in conference. Dalton McDonald gets better every week filling in for the injured Will Jarrett. Easton Hughes was a perfect 11/11 in a rout of Heritage on Friday. With Bentonville & Fayetteville set to meet this week, it’s not a huge stretch to say that’s the only thing in the way of another 6-0 vs 6-0 meeting in week ten.
- Alma Set Up Perfectly – Much like the Bentonville schools, Alma was sluggish in an 0-3 start. Now Doug Loughridge has the Airedales rolling at 3-0 in the 5A-West. An impressive 23-22 win at Morrilton extended the winning streak as Alma blocked a winning field goal attempt by the Devil Dogs. Remaining games against Clarksville and Huntsville are likely wins, but the tough tests are a home tilt with 5A power Harrison and road trip to Greenbrier in weeks eight and nine.
- Game(s) Of The Week – Three matchups really standout and all are deserving of a mention. Fayetteville at Bentonville, Mansfield at Booneville and Pea Ridge at Prairie Grove. You could even throw Bentonville West at Har-Ber in the mix too. All four games have implications for playoff seedings, conference standings and some are definite rivalries. Our game of the week is the Purple Dogs and Tigers based on regular season and playoff history.
- Who’s Most Likely To Stay Unbeaten The Longest? – A valid question six weeks into the season. In my eyes: Elkins will be at least 8-0, with a trip to Dardanelle in week nine. Lamar likely loses its streak at 7-0 next week in Mansfield. Speaking of the Tigers, there’s a very realistic chance Mansfield knocks off Booneville this week. I lean the other way and say Mansfield ends Friday at 6-1, while the Bearcats could definitely go 10-0. Over in Oklahoma, Poteau likely finishes the year with at least 9 wins. A duel with Broken Bow next Thursday dictates an unbeaten season. And Central Sallisaw is 5-0 but a tough test awaits with Talihina this week.