Greenland's senior class went 0-8 when it was in junior high. Friday, they'll play at West Fork for a share of the 3A-1 Conference championship and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
The Pirates (7-2, 5-1 3A-1) are riding a three-game winning streak, most recently notching an impressive 24-0 win over Elkins last Friday to set up the showdown with the Tigers (8-1, 6-0). Greenland can claim the league's top seed with a victory by four or more points.
"If I had to do something extra to motivate them this week, then those guys need to be playing soccer," Greenland coach Lee Larkan said. "Because this is why you play. When it's 102 degrees in August, this is what you dream about."
Greenland's defense has given up a touchdown or less in three of the last five games as the Pirates stayed within striking distance in the conference race. The Pirates will need a complete performance Friday against a West Fork team that beat them 35-6 last year and has won its six conference games by an average of 22.2 points this season.
"In our losses, we have kind of not played hard and slept-walked through some games, maybe" Larkan said. "I think I abandoned our plan too soon, so we've got to stick with our plan. And be physical. That's a big deal, because every time West Fork has beat us, it's been because they were more physical than us."
-- Jimmy Carter • @NWAJimmy
Decatur kept its Class 2A playoff hopes alive with a stunning 19-7 victory at Fort Smith Union Christian last week.
But the Bulldogs (3-6, 3-4 2A-1) are going to need to some help to reach the postseason. Decatur must defeat Magazine at home Friday night and it needs Union Christian to lose to Western Yell County. If that happens, the Bulldogs would receive the conference's No. 5 seed and travel to Hazen, the No. 1 seed from the 2A-6 Conference, for a first-round playoff game next week.
"That fact that we still have something to play for has made this week a whole lot better," said Decatur coach Shane Holland. "We have a chance. When there is something to play for in the last last week, it just makes it better."
Decatur used a punishing ground attack in the victory against Union Christian. Quarterback Victor Urquidi, who has been hampered with an ankle injury most of the season, rushed 25 times for 169 yards while running back Allan Castanada carried the ball 23 times for 149 yards.
"The offensive line blocked really well and we were able to control the football," Holland said. "Victor and Allan both had big nights running the football. We were able to keep their defense off the field."
Urquidi was also 4-of-9 passing for 62 yards, including two completions to Castanada that covered 14 yards. Urquidi also had nine tackles from his linebacker spot.
-- Paul Nielsen @NWAPaul
Shiloh Christian Football
Jeff Conaway knew Shiloh Christian would have a chance at the 4A-1 title when he left Greene County Tech in the summer to take over the football program for Josh Floyd.
And now the Saints find themselves in the biggest game the program has played since probably the 2010 state championship game. Granted Shiloh Christian did play for the 5A-West title last season in the finale at Alma, but this time the stakes are much higher.
The winner of this game not only claims the 4A-1 title, but also earns a first-round bye next week, and secures home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is a definite factor in making a long playoff run.
"We know we're going to have our hands full," Conaway said following last week's 39-14 win over Gravette. "They are a very good football team. In order for us to have a chance, we're going to have to go to their place and play our best football game of the year."
The Saints (7-2, 6-0) have won six straight games after going 1-2 in a brutally tough nonconference schedule. Pea Ridge (9-0, 6-0), has rebounded from a 1-9 mark a year ago that included a pair of forfeits.
Shiloh Christian's defense did a good job of containing Gravette's Cedric Duarte last week, and will again have a tough assignment with Blackhawks RB Shane Ivy this week.
"I felt like our defense played great," Conaway said. "We got sloppy late, but we tackled well early and we didn't let them break any big plays on us."
This will be Shiloh Christian's first trip to the new Blackhawks Stadium, which opened last season. The last time these two teams met, the Saints claimed a 38-34 win at the old stadium in 2011.
-- Chip Souza • @nwachip
The Pioneers (3-6, 3-3 4A-1 Conference) got a big defensive effort and scored 17 fourth-quarter points to claim a 24-6 win over Lincoln to clinch a playoff berth last Friday, but a higher seed and bragging rights are on the line this week against longtime Highway 59 rival Gravette.
Gentry coach Brian Little said his team has showed steady improvement the last few weeks, but the effort has been especially good on defense. Senior Dakota Smith enjoyed a huge night in the win over Lincoln with seven solos tackles, which included six sacks and a quarterback hurry. He also had a quarterback hurry and caused a big fumble.
Senior I Chen scooped up the Lincoln fumble and returned it for a Gentry touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"We've been playing well defensively even in some losses," Little said. "Hitting their stride is a good way to put it. They understand how we all fit together. We've given up some big plays, which has still been our biggest nemesis. But overall, I've been very pleased with our effort and mentality."
Little said his team and Gravette have many similarities, which could make for a close game.
"We've lost the same number of games to the same people that they have and won against the same people," Little said. "It's kind of like looking in a mirror. The margin of victory is very similar. Fact is it's a rivalry game and it could be a really good football game that comes down to the wire."
The Gravette-Gentry winner secures the No. 4 seed from the 4A-1, while the loser is No. 5.
West Fork Football
Tigers coach Brad Lindley liked the way his team responded, after falling behind for the first time in 3A-1 Conference play last Friday.
West Fork (8-1, 6-0 3A-1) answered an early touchdown by Green Forest with 34 unanswered points en route to a 40-15 victory. Lindley hopes to carry that momentum into tonight's rivalry game against Greenland with the conference title on the line.
"You don't ever like to fall behind, but we responded and that was good to see," Lindley said.
The Tigers rode the play of its offensive line to roll over Green Forest.
"Our offensive line played very well," Lindley said. "We had over 400 yards of offense and around 220 on the ground. They also protected the quarterback well. I think he was only sacked maybe once."
The West Fork defense also came up up, stripping the ball three times from Green Forest ball carriers. Tigers linebacker Brayden Burnett also scooped and scored.
"I was really pleased with how aggressive we played on defense," Lindley said.
West Fork's fate is in its hands. A win Friday over Greenland locks up a top seed, a conference championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs. But a loss to the Pirates by four or more points gives Greenland the one seed.
-- Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulB
The thought of playing for a higher playoff seed just gives Gravette's football players an added incentive for their game Friday night against rival Gentry.
The winner of Friday's game will get the fourth seed from the 4A-1 Conference, while the loser gets the No. 5 seed. Regardless of the outcome, both teams will either see Warren or Pine Bluff Dollarway in a first-round game next week.
"That's what makes week 10 rivalry football even more exciting," Gravette coach Bill Harrelson said. "I told our players this should give us a little more incentive, but I still think we have a lot of football left to play."
The Lions (5-4, 3-3) will likely be without Jackson Soule for the second straight week after he suffered a high ankle sprain during the Oct. 24 game against Huntsville. Gravette, however, welcomes back Brandon Holloway and James Isbell back after lengthy delays from injuries.
"I don't know how much they will play since they're just coming back," Harrelson said. "But they are seniors that are getting back to play their final home game, and I'm thankful for that."
-- HENRY APPLE • @NWAHenry
Prairie Grove is locked into third place in the 4A-1 Conference and will likely host Lonoke, Heber Springs, or Central Arkansas Christian in the first round of the playoffs.
That's still more than a week away for the Tigers (5-3, 4-2), who end conference play at Lincoln on Friday. Prairie Grove would like another solid performance after beating Berryville 44-14 last week.
The win over Berryville followed a close loss to Shiloh Christian that ended Prairie Grove's chance for a third consecutive conference championship.
"We were at full strength on the offensive line last week for the first time," Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier said. "We're always trying to improve, but little things seem to happen to slow us down."
Bobby Catt ran for three touchdowns in the first half against Berryville, which trailed 38-0 after two quarters.
"Bobby had 70 yards on five carries," Abshier said. "That's a pretty good night."
-- RICK FIRES • @NWARICK
Sports on 11/05/2014
Print Headline: Prep Football Notebook