BENTONVILLE (KFSM) - In its first four years of existence, Bentonville West has beaten everyone in the conference. Everyone that is, except arch-rival Bentonville. Senior Jonas Higson is all too aware.
"It’s that one last obstacle we can’t seem to get over but I think this year will be a different story. It would mean everything just to get this one under our belt."
Though it’s still the early years, this game has already grown into one on the biggest in the state. Bentonville senior Matthew Schluterman has seen it first hand.
"Every year the tension grows more and more. I’ll go out in public with a Bentonville shirt on and they're like, are you guys ready for West? Are they ready for you?"
"That’s what a rivalry game is supposed to be," says West head coach Bryan Pratt. "We talk with our kids all the time about how lucky they are to get to play in a game like this."
"You get to see who’s really Tiger fans and who’s West Fans," laughs Tiger Zach Lee.
"This is a high level intensity game, everybody in the stands, pretty much the entire town, it’s like one of the best experiences I could ever experience as a high school football player," waxes Higson.
"Lots of heat between the two team, lots of talk," admits Bentonville quarterback Ben Pankou.
"Everybody talks about this game, doesn't matter what grade or how old you are, I hear people all over talking about how Bentonville and West are playing Friday night," says West senior Ben Gann.
It helps when, for the third year in a row, the rivalry also determines a conference champion, and a number one seed in the playoffs. Bentonville coach Jody Grant has seen rivalries come and go.
"A rivalry is a game that means something, that’s for something, and it’s been that way the last three years."
Players on both teams can't wait.
"It’s gonna come down for the conference title every year."
"Preparing for them like it’s the biggest game of the year."
"Cannot wait for Friday night."
For the first time in the history of the rivalry, the game will be played in Centerton at Bentonville West's home stadium. A lot will be on the line in the Football Friday Night Game of the Week.