Football: Saints hope to maintain focus at Gravette

Posted: October 27, 2017 at 5:44 a.m.

The worst a team challenging for the top can do in Week 9 is look ahead to Week 10 when conference championships are decided.

A handful of teams are in that position including Shiloh Christian, which ends the regular season with a home game against Pea Ridge. The Blackhawks lead the 4A-1 Conference by one game over Shiloh Christian and Prairie Grove, which beat the Saints in a close game earlier this season.

Shiloh Christian could tie for the conference championship with a win at home next week, but the Saints must first get past Gravette on the road. The Lions are only 4-4 on the season but they've won their last two in conference play.

"Gravette, certainly, is a dangerous football team," Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway said. "They play well at their place and we need to be playing our best football (tonight)."

No doubt.

A win by Gravette could lock down the No. 3 seed for the Lions, who helped the 4A-1 Conference go 4-0 in first-round playoff games last season with a road win at Pocahontas. Gravette pounded Huntsville 62-28 last week while Shiloh Christian (6-2, 4-1) advanced with a 55-6 victory over Lincoln.

"My biggest concern about facing Shiloh is their overall team speed," Gravette coach Bill Harrelson said. "They have speed at every skill position and, on defense, they are very fast and they swarm to the ball."

Shiloh Christian has a top playmaker in Jaret Russ, who rushed for 215 yards and three touchdowns last week against Huntsville. Gravette expects to counter with Austin O'Brien, who has over 1,600 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on the season.

Shiloh Christian played well in its only conference loss at Prairie Grove, when the Tigers used an interception return by Demarkus Cooper to pull away for a 35-21 victory. Gravette will make the playoffs but the Lions will be unable to prevent the Saints from playing for a share of the conference championship next week.

RICK'S PICK Shiloh Christian

Other games involving teams from Northwest Arkansas (selections are capitalized).

CLASS 7A

Rogers Heritage at BENTONVILLE

BENTONVILLE WEST at Rogers

Springdale at FAYETTEVILLE

Van Buren at SPRINGDALE HAR-BER

CABOT at Fort Smith Northside

FORT SMITH SOUTHSIDE at Little Rock Central

CLASS 6A

Sheridan at GREENWOOD

TEXARKANA at Siloam Springs

CLASS 5A

Greenbrier at ALMA

Farmington at MORRILTON

Harrison at MAUMELLE

CLASS 4A

PRAIRIE GROVE at Berryville

GENTRY at Lincoln

Huntsville at PEA RIDGE

West Fork at BOONEVILLE

DARDANELLE at Ozark

CLASS 3A

Greenland at ELKINS

PARIS at Cedarville

CHARLESTON at Perryville

ATKINS at Mansfield

CLASS 2A

Lavaca at HACKETT

MOUNTAINBURG at Magazine

LAST WEEK 17-6 (74 percent)

OVERALL 154-42 (78 percent)

Sports on 10/27/2017