BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - At Bentonville, winning is tradition.
"From freshman, sophomore year, the coaches keep telling us over and over and over again, keep the tradition going, keep it going, protect the tradition," explains senior Jackson Kinsey.
The Tigers have won 18 straight conference games, capturing the last three straight 7A-West titles.
"Conference championship, state championship, beating all of our rivals, it’s all on there, so it’s just kind of more of a goal at this point," reinforces senior Ben Pankau.
This off-season has been defined by a quarterback battle, with Pankau getting the first crack and junior Andrew Edwards expected to see time as well.
"Our system is our system and they both run it well," says head coach Jody Grant. "They’ve both done very well, I think the competition has made them better."
"It’s taken both of our games to another level," agrees Pankau.
"Ben was my quarterback when I was little, like fourth fifth grade, so it’s nice to see him be a quarterback still," adds Kinsey.
Of course, Ben is also an all-state safety.
"We’d be crazy to have him sitting by us on the sideline when our defense is on the field," admits Grant, "so we’ll try to be strategic about that and get him out there when we can."
So there should be opportunities for both quarterbacks as the Tigers look to turn their conference dominance into the ultimate goal, as senior Chris Crawford so succinctly puts it.
"Win a state championship."
Crawford is part of what should be an elite defense, anchoring the defensive line. It's a unit built on discipline and quickness.
"We've got some experience coming back in the secondary and at linebacker, and our line appears to me like it's gonna be pretty good," says Grant. "Our defensive speed is phenomenal."
And Crawford's brother Preston enters his senior season at running back fresh of an all-state performance as a junior.
"He's picked up some weight this off-season, picked up some speed," observes Pankau. "I think he's just becoming more of an all-together back."
So for this year's Tiger squad, a fourth straight conference title would just be a good start. The hunt begins August 31st against Midwest City.