Week Nine Of The FFN Ten: Playoff Picture Still Muddy

As the regular season comes to a close, it seems that many teams have finally hit their strides, figured out their identities and are primed for runs deep into November. Fall 2018 has brought the first look at football with week zero in Arkansas, reclassification of schools and a lot of jumbled conference standings. For a look at the entire playoff picture with one night of games left, @5NEWSBobby has it laid out for you here. Otherwise, here’s a recap of week nine and preview of week ten.

Five Takeaways From Week Nine

  1. Northside Continues To Slip – What started as such a promising year for Mike Falleur and the Grizzlies has quickly turned into a battle for a postseason spot. Northside went 3-0 in conference play including a dominant win over Greenwood. But in the 7A-Central, the Grizzlies are just 2-4 after a loss to Cabot. That’s three straight defeats, including setbacks to Conway and North Little Rock. With a matchup against rival Southside looming, Northside is one of four teams battling for three playoff spots (4-6 seeds).
  2. Mountainburg Continues To Roll – The Dragons are now 7-1, still an unbeaten 5-0 in the 2A-4. With a week ten win at Hector (6-3, 4-1), Tom Harrell wraps up the schools first ever conference championship. And make no mistake about it, Mountainburg is favored. Against conference opponents, the Wildcats have scored 177 points and allowed 105 (+72 differential) while the Dragons have put up 223 points and allowed just 56 (+167 differentail). Why is Mountainburg’s offense so potent? A lot has to do with sophomore quarterback Ethan Gregory.
  3. Mansfield Treading Water – The Tigers were one of the feel good stories in all of Arkansas after a 6-0 start. Then reality hit as Mansfield lost to two straight unbeaten teams Booneville and Lamar before falling 26-20 in overtime to Cedarville. Mansfield likely gets a win over Paris, but technically can finish anywhere between 3rd and 5th or even miss the playoffs out of the 3A-1.
  4. Great Story In Siloam Springs – Brandon Craig’s first season has been a huge success, piloting the Panthers to a 5-4 record and a 3-3 mark in the 6A-West. Siloam is headed to the playoffs, that much is certain. The Panthers host Russellville in week ten and can finish anywhere between the 3 seed and 6 seed. Behind running back Kaiden Thrailkill, it’s very possible Siloam knocks off a team from the 6A-East in the first round, likely Searcy or Marion.
  5. Unbeaten/Winless Tally Down To  A Few – Booneville is 9-0 and can wrap up an unbeaten regular season with a win at Cedarville. Oklahoma 4A No. 1 Poteau is also 9-0 and hosts Hilldale in a tough finale. On the other side of the spectrum, Rogers Heritage and Paris look to avoid 0-10 seasons. The War Eagles host rival Rogers with each school looking for its first win in 7A-West play, while Pairs is at Mansfield.

Five Thoughts On Week Ten

  1. Bentonville West (6-3, 6-0) at Bentonville (6-3, 6-0) – Just like week ten last season, the Tigers host the Wolverines with the 7A-West title on the line. Each school has eased its way to a 6-0 conference record. Bentonville’s done it with a tough defense and consistent offense led by star running back Preston Crawford. Don’t look now, but QB Will Jarrett came back from a foot injury two weeks ago and has lit up both Heritage and Van Buren. Bentonville won last year which essentially ended West’s season. Both teams are on six game win streaks as the Wolverines seek their first conference title.
  2. Shiloh Christian (8-1, 6-0) at Pea Ridge (7-2, 6-0) – Without Prairie Grove in the mix for its fourth straight conference title, this years 4A-1 title is decided on Friday at The Ridge. The Blackhawks have won two of the past four conference titles including sharing last season’s with Prairie Grove. Believe it or not, it’s been seven years since the Saints won a conference title (2010) but Shiloh Christian has been the most consistent team all season long. The Saints have scored more and given up less points than all other 4A-1 teams, thanks to Eli Reece at quarterback and a veteran defense. Something must give as Shiloh has won eight straight and Pea Ridge has captured seven in a row.
  3. Southside (5-4, 3-3) at Northside (5-4, 2-4) – The anticipation for this year’s Battle of Rogers Avenue has dwindled over the past few weeks as Northside is on a three game losing streak. Southside’s offense has been solid all season led by running back Rico Savoy and quarterback Taye Gatewood. Jeff Williams has led the Mavs to two straight victories and the lone difference in 7A-Central play has been a Southside win over Cabot as supposed to a Northside loss to the Panthers. It’s not only one of the best rivalries in the state, but playoff seeding is on the line. Each school could finish fourth, fifth, sixth, or even miss the postseason.
  4. Ozark (7-2, 6-0) at Elkins (7-2, 4-2) – The Hillbillies have already locked up the 4A-4 title and travel to Northwest Arkansas to face one of the highest scoring teams in the state. Elkins fell out of contention for a conference title with losses to Mena and Dardanelle and can finish anywhere between the two seed and five seed. Ozark has locked up a first round bye in the playoffs and home field advantage throughout November.
  5. Prairie Grove (5-4, 4-2) at Lincoln (7-2, 4-2) – The Wolves have surprised many people with a relatively easy seven win season. Lincoln was blown out by Shiloh Christian but hung tough with Pea Ridge. Now the Wolves welcome Highway 62 rival and perennial power Prairie Grove on Friday night. It’s as simple as this: the winner is the 3 seed out of the 4A-1, while the loser takes the 4 seed. Expect a defensive slug fest and a lot of running the ball.
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