Week Seven Of The FFN Ten: Bentonville, Booneville Shine

Week seven of high school football brought us a matchup unbeaten 3A-1 teams and a classic rivalry in the 7A-West. It also told us a lot about playoff seeding and set the stage for the final three weeks.

Five Takeaways From Week Seven

  1. Bentonville Breaks Hearts Again – For the 13th straight regular season, Bentonville topped Fayetteville. The final of 24-20 was an indication of how hard fought the game was. Both defensive lines stepped up to stem offensive production. Darius Bowers returned from a left knee injury and led the Purple Dogs on what seemed to be the winning TD drive with two minutes left. Until Easton Hughes hit Harrison Campbell for a 56 yard score with under a minute left. The Tigers are 4-0 in 7A-West play.
  2. Booneville Denies The Doubters – If there were any to begin with. Brandon Ulmer’s ACL tear hasn’t been a setback for quarterback Evan Schlinker and the stout Bearcat defense. Booneville pounded previously unbeaten Mansfield 55-6, again justifying a No. 1 rank in class 3A. The Bearcats now likely cruise to a 10-0 regular season.
  3. Mountainburg In Control – The Dragons are 5-1, 3-0 in 2A-4 play. Tom Harrell’s offense is running smoothly and the lone setback came to a powerful Greenland team. Three tests to end the regular season await: at Hackett, vs Magazine and at preseason conference favorite and newcomer Hector. Mountainburg controls its own fate as far as a conference championship and playoff seeding.
  4. Gravette Struggles Again – Under first year coach Doug Greenwood, things haven’t gone as smooth as the Lion faithful would have hoped. Gravette is 0-7 and has scored just 26 points in seven games, an average of 3.7 per contest. The best shot for a Lion win comes against Green Forest on Friday.
  5. West Fork Continues Futility – Journalism is all about tailing the good and bad of football. Justin Smith inherited a West Fork team that was on a 16 game losing streak and has yet to snap that skid. The Tigers fell 56-0 to Cedarville and haven’t won any of the last 23 games dating back to September 23, 2016 in a shutout of Subiaco Academy. West Fork has lost 27 of its last 28 games.

Five Thoughts On Week Eight

  1. Thursday Night In Oklahoma – It’s the annual Thursday night slate of games prior to fall break. The biggest matchup is Poteau and Broken Bow. Forrest Mazey’s Pirates are the top team in class 4A with a 7-0 record and are coming off a 63-6 win at Stilwell. Another matchup to look out for is Muldrow at Sallisaw.
  2. Wolverines The Best In The West? – Usually I’d wax on Bryan Pratt’s offense, but the West defense went to Har-Ber and posted the first shutout in school history, 45-0. Even without quarterback Will Jarrett, Bentonville West may be the most complete team in the 7A-West. West plays at Heritage and hosts Van Buren, so we’ll almost certainly see a 6-0 Wolverine team heading into week ten against (potentially) a 6-0 Bentonville Tiger squad. Déjà vu.
  3. Van Buren To The Playoffs? – The Pointers have all but secured a postseason berth with wins over Rogers and Heritage and sit in the 5th spot, one game ahead of Har-Ber. Casey Dick and company have three tough challenges but should be able to hang on to either the 5 or 6 seed after road games at Har-Ber and West plus hosting Springdale in the season finale.
  4. Unbeaten No More – Elkins fell to Mena in a 49-45 shootout and Booneville knocked of Mansfield. That leaves just two 7-0 schools in Arkansas (Booneville and Lamar) and two unbeatens in Oklahoma (7-0 Poteau, 6-0 Sallisaw Central).
  5. Best Games Of The Week – A trio of river valley contests stand out plus an old rivalry in Northwest Arkansas. Benton at Greenwood is a matchup of the two top 6A teams and a potential preview of the state champinoship game. Harrison at Alma pits the two 4-0, 5A-West leaders against each other. The Goblins haven’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season. Lamar at Mansfield is a battle for seeding in the 3A-1, as the Warriors look to stay unbeaten. Finally, Springdale at Fayetteville renews one of the oldest rivalries. The Purple Dogs have won nine straight and 11 of 12 against the Bulldogs, but something tells me this iteration will be more competitive game.