There is a big football game this weekend in which the outcome will go along way in deciding the future of Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba.
But it's probably not the one that comes to the mind first for fans of both Arkansas and Auburn, the two finalists for the prep All-American tackle.
It's actually Friday night's 7 p.m. game that has Rogers (5-0, 2-0) visiting Springdale (3-2, 1-1).
"It's huge," Ziemba said Thursday night. "Rogers hasn't been 6-0 in 30 years. We've been real sharp in practice all week and we are all ready to go in there and really play well."
The matchup features a pair of teams that are likely much closer foes than they were last season when Springdale rolled to a blowout, mercy-rule win and a 14-0 state title season behind five major college signees.
"They are not the same team that they were last year and neither are we," Ziemba said. "We are a much better team. They are still very good, but I think if we control the line of scrimmage that we will win the game. I think we have a great shot to do that."
Rogers coach Ronnie Peacock took his team to the Malco Theater in Rogers on Wednesday night for a little motivation.
The Mounties went to see Facing the Giants, a small-budget Christian film about a high school coach whose program had lost for six straight seasons and who a group of fathers had begun to plot to get him fired after they opened the latest season 0-3.
"It's about a high school ball team that gets off to a shaky start at a place that has never really had a winning program," Ziemba said. "It's a Christian motivational film about how they all come together, believing in God and each other and how they come to have a lot of success. I really liked it and I think it gave us a lot of inspiration."
After taking care of his own business on the field, Ziemba will kick back Saturday and watch Arkansas (3-1, 2-0) visit No. 2 Auburn(5-0, 3-0) for their 11 a.m. showdown for first place in the SEC West that will be nationally televised by CBS.
There has been some speculation that the winner of that game – one in which Auburn is favored to win by two touchdowns – will have the upper hand to sign Ziemba, but he says that is not the case.
"How those two teams are this season will really not have much to do with next season," Ziemba said. "There are going to be different people on each of the teams and I just don't think taking one game and basing your decision on that would be a very smart thing to do.
"This is a choice of a place that I am going to spend four or five years going to school at and in all likelihood am going to live after I get out of college," Ziemba added. "I am not going to base the rest of my life on the outcome of one ballgame."
Ziemba said he is likely to have Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns – who is also down to Arkansas and Auburn – over on Saturday to watch the game.
"We've become pretty good friends and talked a lot about what we are thinking since we are kind of in the same situation," Ziemba said. "But I am not going to go to one school because he does and he's not going to go to one because I do. We'll make our own decisions, but it's nice to have somebody to bounce things off of."
Ziemba said that Arkansas is planning on playing him at left tackle while Auburn has told him he would trying to beat out right tackle Oscar Gonzalez early on since junior King Dunlap is entrenched at left tackle.
"I'm just going to go in and play where I can help at whichever school I end up at," Ziemba said.
He has looked on with interest at Arkansas' changing offense under new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
"I have seen some changes, especially how they are getting the ball downfield more," Ziemba said. "But anybody who has played football knows it is tough to get an offense totally changed in one year. I see it is coming, but right now their best bet is to do what they do best and that is run the ball."
Ziemba and Burns – who face each other at Northside on Oct. 20 - will both visit Auburn on Nov. 11 for its game with Georgia and then will visit Arkansas together as well – likely when the season is over.
"But right now my main focus is helping Rogers do something that it hasn't done in a long time," Ziemba said. "That's win and win big."
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