In his first year as the head coach at Prescott, Greg Smith took a 4-6 program and turned it into an 11-3 team complete with all the trimmings. The Curley Wolves shared the conference title with Ashdown and Nashville and advanced to the Class AAA semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Warren, 42-14.
With the majority of starters back on both sides of the football and a move-in from Mineral Springs penciled in to start at cornerback, the Curley Wolves are in good shape to add another banner to the fieldhouse rafters. The prime challengers, last year's tri-champions, include Ashdown – a team Prescott defeated 42-22 last year – and Nashville, which returns three starters on offense and three on defense.
On Oct. 3, the Curley Wolves have a chance to avenge their only league loss of 2002 when they entertain Nashville. The Scrappers whipped the Curley Wolves, 40-14, before Prescott went on a five-game winning streak to close out the regular season. Over that five-game period, Prescott averaged 39 points per outing.
After Nashville and Ashdown, DeQueen brings in a new coach, former Brinkley boss Van Paschal, and looks to be head and shoulders better than the rest of the league. But beware of Mena, Fountain Lake and Fouke – which surprised league foes with its first playoff appearance since 1995 and its first winning season in 14 years with last year's 7-4 mark.
Mena, Fountain Lake and Fouke will also be battling to stay out of the 7AAA Conference cellar. The spot reserved for Bismarck the last couple of years has been vacated by the Lions' scrapping of a varsity schedule. Bismarck, with a streak of 18 consecutive 7AAA losses, will utilize its too-small-for-AAA squad of 15 players to play a junior varsity schedule that begins Sept. 26 with a date against Foreman.
The sad part about the Bismarck saga is that head coach Jim Meyers, in his sixth year at the Lions' helm, had more than 30 players last spring and listed nine starters returning to both the offensive and defensive units. Six players moved out of the district – including four to the nearby Glen Rose school district. The others were removed from the program, according to the Sunday, Aug. 17, edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, for disciplinary reasons.
The loss of Bismarck means there will be a new team in the 7AAA basement and one less victory for each of the league's current members.
Here's how RPS sees the 7AAA race stacking up:
1-5 Fountain Lake