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)."
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).
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
Sheridan at GREENWOOD
TEXARKANA at Siloam Springs
Greenbrier at ALMA
Farmington at MORRILTON
Harrison at MAUMELLE
PRAIRIE GROVE at Berryville
GENTRY at Lincoln
Huntsville at PEA RIDGE
West Fork at BOONEVILLE
DARDANELLE at Ozark
Greenland at ELKINS
PARIS at Cedarville
CHARLESTON at Perryville
ATKINS at Mansfield
Lavaca at HACKETT
MOUNTAINBURG at Magazine
LAST WEEK 17-6 (74 percent)
OVERALL 154-42 (78 percent)
Sports on 10/27/2017
Print Headline: Saints hope to maintain focus at Gravette