Ahhhh, its time for conference play to begin as AAAAWest.com has correctly picked 19 winners out of the 24 games so far. And boy is it a big week to open the season as Alma travels up some country back roads to play at Crooked Creek in Harrison. Meanwhile, a much-improved Huntsville team faces Greenwood at home, Siloam Springs makes the longest journey of the year when it travels to Greenbrier, and Morrilton faces off against Clarksville.
Clarksville at Morrilton
One could say the Panthers have struggled so far this season, but that was to be expected following the losses of virtually every starter from last year's team. Morrilton meanwhile is still waiting for its offense to start clicking and for that to happen passes are going to have to be caught at a better clip. The Dogs are still angry at last year's whipping against the Panthers and have the home-field advantage this time … Morrilton 26, Clarksville 6.
Greenwood at Huntsville
The Eagles' high-flying attack has done well so far this year averaging 23 points a ballgame. But, its defense is still a little suspect against the run. Meaning, watch out as Greenwood's running game is in need of a lift following last week's big loss to Fayetteville. I'm thinking this game may be a little closer than people think and that Bulldog coach Harv Welch may like, but in the end Greenwood pulls away … Greenwood 31, Huntsville 17.
Siloam Springs at Greenbrier
Siloam Springs' offense has struggled in non-conference play, only scoring 17 points in the three matchups. Greenbrier looked improved to start the season with a win over AAAA-East member Beebe, but has since dropped its next two against Vilonia and Atkins. Greenbrier coach Scott Schwartz placed the blame for last week's 12-point loss to the AAA Red Devils directly on the shoulders of his players saying, "I'm just at a loss for words right now. We didn't come out and play hard. All week we talked about playing hard. I take responsibility for them not being ready to play in the second half. I don't know which buttons to push." Well, this game may not be that pretty but whichever of these two teams can come away with a victory has the early lead at the fourth seed … Greenbrier 10, Siloam Springs 9.
Alma at Harrison
… Which leads us to the game of the week in Class AAAA. The Airedales seemed to be rolling before last week's debacle in Oklahoma against Poteau. Junior Kyle Goodwin continues to be the only person producing out of the Alma offense, but a tough defense kept them in the game all last week and shut out Ozark the week before. Meanwhile, Harrison coach Tommy Tice has been getting his team fat on those non-conference cupcakes with wins over Prairie Grove, Farmington, and Mountain Home. The Goblins' offense is rushing the ball really well while the defense was good in the first two games, but struggled to stop MH's rushing attack. Now's the time for the winner to prove itself to the rest of the state if it's one of the frontrunners for the title and you've got to believe that Coach Tice has been swimming in the magical waters of Crooked Creek all week long … Harrison 20, Alma 18.