Kasey Ford and Bentonville will take the field in their “second home” Saturday afternoon against Fayetteville for the Arkansas Class 7A state championship.
A week removed from a dominant 42-10 win over North Little Rock and a year removed from a 39-28 win over Cabot in the 2013 state title game, the Tigers are back at War Memorial Stadium.
“It feel great (to be back),” Ford said. “I pretty much consider it a home field for us now. We feel confortable down here.”
The four-star quarterback completed 9 of 15 passes (60 percent) for 178 yards and two touchdowns to help Bentonville to its semifinal win over a North Little Rock team that features Arkansas wide receiver commit K.J. Hill and Northern Illinois running back commit D.J. Brown.
Because of that talent, Ford expected a closer game with the Charging Wildcats.
“They were very explosive on offense,” Ford said. “They have playmakers that can do big things, but our defense did a good job of holding them and our offense got points early.”
Bentonville, which lost its first four games of the season, has now rattled off eight straight wins in which it has outscored its opponents by an average of 29 points.
In their regular season matchup, the Tigers crushed Fayetteville 45-2 to clinch a share of the 7A-West title. However, Bentonville has traditionally struggled against the Bulldogs in the playoffs, particularly the state championship.
In 2011 and 2012, the Tigers were undefeated (with 41-6 and 24-17 wins over Fayetteville in the regular season) entering the title game, but lost to Fayetteville.
Ford said he and his teammates are set on changing that trend.
“We need to focus and get that out of our heads,” Ford said. “I know that’s been a worry for some of our coaches, but we’ll (forget about that) and play like we can. We’ll be fine.”
Opposite Ford, Taylor Powell, a talented young quarterback, leads Fayetteville.
Powell is in a similar position as Ford was last year – a sophomore heading into the biggest game of his career – so Ford, now a junior, knows how he is feeling.
“(Last year), I had a little nerves but I was confident that team would play well,” Ford said. “I’m even nervous now, but you can’t ever get the nerves out of you. (Powell) has really improved during the season. I look forward to the game.”
The game is scheduled to kickoff at noon.
Ford Seeking Second State Title
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