Fayetteville-Southside clash not in Fort Smith

Fayetteville hosts Fort Smith Southside for the AAAAA-West Conference championship. And it's been a long time since Fayetteville has come through to win a league title on the gridiron.

Rich's Power System
Halloween, 2003: The biggest night in Harmon Field history

New turf, a new coach, some new duds - only worn once before - and a new attitude are what the Fort Smith Southside Rebels will see when they arrive for tonight's AAAAA-West Conference championship showdown with Fayetteville.
The Bulldogs, 8-0 and ranked third in the state, have been in games like this many times over the past 20 years. Without detailing all of the "showdowns," though, let's point out three numbers:
They are '85, '63 and '57.
No, that's not an audible call with Cedric Logan running a flag pattern.
* 1985 was the year of Fayetteville's last conference football title. As a sidenote, the Bulldogs can clinch a share of the title with a win over Southside and still have a chance at a share of the title if they lose.
* 1963 was the last year Fayetteville won an outright conference title in Arkansas. Notice the addition of "Arkansas" to this one. Fayetteville played in the Missouri-centered Ozark Conference for many years. And, as another sidenote, Fayetteville did not go unscathed in winning the 1963 conference title over Springdale. The Purple Dogs went 4-0-1 and the Red Dogs went 3-0-2, tying Rogers.
* 1957 was the last year Fayetteville went 10-0. Obviously, the Purple Dogs are still on course to match that record in 2003. One last note: Fayetteville did have an undefeated and untied conference run in 1958, but shared the title at 5-0 with Van Buren. The teams did not play each other and instead had designated conference opponents.
With two more victories, Fayetteville can put all of its achievements into one neat little pile labeled "2003: Outright conference champs, 10-0."

No. 1 Fort Smith Southside at No. 3 Fayetteville

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Harmon Field
Records: Southside coach Barry Lunney (131-52) has the top-ranked Rebels sitting at 7-1 overall and atop the league standings with Fayetteville at 5-0. Lunney is 151-62 overall. The Fayetteville Bulldogs and coach Daryl Patton are 8-0. The Bulldogs are 5-0 in the AAAAA-West Conference and Patton is 42-20 at the high-school level, having spent five years (1998-2002) at Bryant.
The series: When Southside played Fayetteville for the first time in a varsity game in 1964, it was for keeps. The schools have met once each season and the Rebels have won the bulk of them, holding a 26-11-2 advantage over the Bulldogs.
Last year: Second-ranked Southside was a 9-point favorite, but came across a Fayetteville squad that still harbored playoff hopes. The Rebels held on for a 16-14 victory to end Fayetteville's postseason chances. The irony in Fayetteville's effort, one of its best of 2002, is that the Bulldogs would not have made the playoffs even if they had beaten Southside that night.
Notable stats:
Woody Wilson and Tristan Thomas both had more than 100 yards on the ground - a first for Fayetteville in the 21st Century - but maybe the most interesting number for the Bulldogs last Friday was "5." Five was the number of touches Cedric Logan had last week. He ran the football three times and caught two passes for Fayetteville. Ben Tschepikow, Tristan Thomas and Eric Shaffer combined to catch 15 passes.
Outlook: It's not a grim outlook by any means. Fayetteville has already shown it can overcome adversity in many ways and has already beaten a team that some could argue is better. Remember, Fayetteville was an underdog against Springdale and won the game, 28-23.
So picking against Fayetteville should have little affect on these not-so-fragile Bulldogs.
What is most interesting about Fayetteville's approach to tonight's game comes from Patton's own mouth. He said that in a 10-game series, his Bulldogs might "be in trouble" against Southside. In one game, he acknowledges, anything can happen.
RPS Bottom Line: Fayetteville's speed continues to give opponents fits, but the Bulldogs' kicking game, better than most only because of return man Logan, will have to step it up a notch tonight. The one difference between Southside and the rest of the Bulldogs' conference foes - besides its 5-0 conference record - is the Rebels always have a great kicking game ... Southside 29, Fayetteville 25.

No. 2 Springdale at Fort Smith Northside

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Mayo-Thompson Stadium
Records: Coach Gus Malzahn (24-9) leads the Springdale Bulldogs into the contest with a 5-3 overall record. Springdale is 3-2 in the AAAAA-West Conference and alone in third place. The Northside Grizzlies (1-7, 1-4) are coached by Darrell Henry. In his second season, Henry is 6-12-1 as the Northside boss.
The series: Northside started playing in this league in 1981 and has struck up a long and illustrious series with the Bulldogs. Other than 22 league games, the Grizzlies and Bulldogs have played two other regular-season games and have met three times in the playoffs - twice for the state title. Springdale holds a 15-12 lead since 1981, but the teams are even, 11-11, in the games that have counted in the conference standings.
Last year: A narrow, 4-point favorite, Springdale knocked off the visiting Grizzlies, 16-7, last year at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium.
Notable stats:
Springdale has three receivers with more than 300 yards in catches, yet none of them are averaging more than five catches per game. Brett Buresh leads the way with 17 catches for 403 yards and six touchdowns. Andrew Norman and Aaron Davis have combined for 36 catches and 616 yards.
Outlook: For seeding purposes, next week's finale with Rogers is very important for Springdale. To take some of the pressure off next week's game, the Bulldogs need to take care of Northside tonight.
A victory does not wrap up third place, but it keeps Springdale ahead of the pack. The pack will be one game behind the Red Dogs next week and should include Rogers and the Bentonville-Russellville winner. Springdale has beaten both Bentonville and Russellville and wins a tie-breaker with either team. Yet, the Bulldogs risk falling behind the Bentonville-Russellville winner if they fail to win another game.
If that happens, there will be no playoffs for Springdale.
RPS Bottom Line: Northside played its best game of the season two weeks ago when the Grizzlies forced Fayetteville into two overtimes before escaping with a 32-26 victory. That loss to Fayetteville may have been the end of the Grizzlies, who were clubbed by Russellville, 34-6, last week. Still, Springdale would be wise to expect the Grizzlies - whose two best conference outings have come at home - will be at their best ...
Springdale 28, Northside 6.

No. 6 Russellville at Bentonville

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium
Records: Jeff Holt (30-25) has led the Russellville Cyclones back to the verge of postseason play. Russellville is 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the AAAAA-West Conference. Coach Gary Wear's Bentonville Tigers are 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the league. Wear, in his third year, is 18-12 at Bentonville, but only 6-11 since winning the 2001 state title.
The series: The two teams met for the first time in 1989 and have played annually. Russellville leads the series, 10-4, and has won the last five in a row against the Tigers.
Last year: Russellville won a shootout, 41-36, to put itself in the playoffs for the third consecutive season under Holt. The Cyclones were a two-touchdown choice to win the game.
Notable stats:
Again, the magic number was "5." Five is the number of turnovers the Russellville Cyclones collected and the number of touchdowns they put on the board in a 34-6 rout of Northside. Nathan Brown passed for 140 yards and has eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark for the season with 2,035.
Outlook: By beating Rogers, Russellville has put itself in the driver's seat for the fourth and final playoff spot. But the Cyclones aren't in and Bentonville can sure put a dent in the whole plan.
Bentonville can win and still fall well short of the playoffs. The tie-breaking procedure practically demands that Bentonville win by 13 points and that alone still probably won't be enough. Both Russellville and Rogers still have Van Buren on the schedule and the tie-breaking numbers are likely to go up.
Bentonville, even with a win over Russellville, would probably have to beat Fayetteville next week to get into the playoffs.
RPS Bottom Line: Bentonville is 0-for-5 in its last five tries against Russellville. The Tigers even lost to the Cyclones during the 2001 state-championship season. To date, Russellville is the only team Gary Wear has not beaten. And he may have to wait yet another year ... Russellville 30, Bentonville 19
.

No. 22 Rogers at Van Buren

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Blakemore Field
Records: The Rogers Mountaineers (5-3) are led by Ronnie Peacock, who is 8-20 in his third season as the Mounties' coach. Rogers is 2-3 in the AAAAA-West Conference, tied with Russellville and Bentonville for fourth place. The Van Buren Pointers are 0-8 and still looking for their first victory under first-year coach and former Pointers standout, Eddie Tipton. The Pointers are 0-5 in the AAAAA-West Conference.
The series: Since joining the conference in 1991, Van Buren has dominated the series. The Pointers lead, 9-3, over the Mountaineers.
Last year: Despite an 0-13 conference record in two years, Peacock's Mounties were a 4-point favorite over Van Buren. Yet, Van Buren turned the tables and sent Rogers to an unprecedented second consecutive 0-7 campaign with a 24-21 victory.
Notable stats:
Johnny Brewer's passing stats have been good, but Fayetteville's defense was better in last week's 43-17 Bulldogs win. Brewer was knocked down 12 times by Fayetteville linebackers Mark Bonner (8 knockdowns, 2 hurries, 2 passes broken up) and Nathan Mahaffey (4 knockdowns, 2 hurries, 2 big hits).
Outlook: Rogers went from a share of the conference lead to clinging for its playoff life in three short weeks. Thank the schedule-maker for the Mounties' early surge to the top. Rogers was 3-0 in non-conference play and caught two of the league's weakest three clubs, Bentonville and Northside, while the Mounties were on a high.
In the last three weeks, Rogers has given up 40 points a game and has been held under 20 in two of three outings. Holding Rogers to 10 (Southside) and 17 (Fayetteville) is not an easy task when you consider the Mounties have scored 40 or more in half their games this year.
Defense is where Rogers is really hurting. The Mounties held four of their first five opponents to a mere touchdown. The last three opponents, admittedly a higher quality of teams, have each scored at least five touchdowns per game.
RPS Bottom Line: Van Buren is not a team that will put a lot of points on the board. The Pointers have been held to two touchdowns or less in all but one game. The Pointers have also been battered for five touchdowns or more by their last three opponents. The game features styles of football in sharp contrast and the winner will be the team that doesn't give up on its philosophy ... Rogers 28, Van Buren 21.


This week's projections
Last week's record: 85-13 (86.7 percent)
Season record: 664-128-5 (83.8 percent)
Since 1986: 14,775-3,194 (82.2 percent)

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Class AAAAA
at Conway 35, Bryant 23
LR Catholic 28, at LR Hall 10
LR Central 20, at LR McClellan 13
at North Little Rock 31, LR Parkview 28
at Searcy 35, Blytheville 16
at Cabot 21, Jonesboro 18
at Forrest City 32, Mountain Home 10
at West Memphis 28, Jacksonville 12
El Dorado 29, at Benton 25
at Pine Bluff 24, Camden Fairview 23
Texarkana 22, at Lake Hamilton 21
at Sheridan 20, Watson Chapel 16
Fort Smith Southside 29, at Fayetteville 25
Springdale 28, at Fort Smith Northside 6
Russellville 30, at Bentonville 19
Rogers 28, at Van Buren 21

Class AAAA
Batesville 32, at Marion 10
at Beebe 31, Greene Co. Tech 20
at Paragould 27, Nettleton 14
at Wynne 22, Vilonia 20
at Crossett 28, Monticello 6
at Sylvan Hills 24, LR Mills 12
at West Helena Central 25, North Pulaski 20
at Stuttgart 25, White Hall 17
Arkadelphia 29, at Hot Springs 17
at Hope 24, Magnolia 19
at Malvern 22, Hot Springs Lakeside 15
at Pulaski Robinson 27, LR Fair 12
at Siloam Springs 21, Huntsville 19
Harrison 20, at Greenwood 19
at Alma 22, Morrilton 18
Greenbrier 30, at Clarksville 12

Class AAA
at Prairie Grove 25, Gravette 0
at Green Forest 23, Farmington 17
Lincoln 18, at Gentry 14
at Shiloh Christian 19, Berryville 10
Mountain View 17, at Corning 16
Yellville-Summit 30, at Heber Springs 0
Hoxie 24, at Highland 20
at Pocahontas 25, Newport 18
at East Poinsett Co. 31, Trumann 19
Gosnell 27, at Piggott 0
Rivercrest 34, at Harrisburg 8
Osceola 38, at Jonesboro Westside 10
at Booneville 22, Greenland 12
at West Fork 21, Subiaco Academy 15
at Mansfield 47, Paris 17
at Waldron 28, Ozark 24
Atkins 32, at Mayflower 19
at Pulaski Oak Grove 40, Clinton 7
Dardanelle 25, at Lamar 7
Dover 42, at Perryville 31
Pulaski Academy 35, at Bald Knob 13
Brinkley 23, at Marianna 16
at Central Arkansas Christian 42, DeWitt 3
at Lonoke 39, England 9
at Ashdown 29, Mena 0
at Nashville 24, DeQueen 14
Prescott 39, at Fouke 10
Dollarway 38, at Lake Village 13
at Dumas 20, McGehee 19
at Star City 29, Fordyce 13
Warren 45, at Hamburg 23

Class AA
at Charleston 30, Mountainburg 8
at Hackett 24, Hartford 12
Pea Ridge 25, at Lavaca 18
Elkins 27, Spring Hill 14
Cross County 26, at Walnut Ridge 12
Earle 22, at Salem 10
Hughes 47, at Turrell 18
Palestine 29, at Marked Tree 14
Parkin 21, at Rector 20
at Arkansas Baptist 23, Ola 19
Magazine 31, at Bigelow 17
at Danville 36, LR Lutheran 0
Hector 37, at LR Episcopal 0
LR Christian 34, at Marshall 13
at Bauxite 22, Mount Ida 20
at Centerpoint 28, Magnet Cove 17
at Cutter Morning Star 22, Pottsville JV 18
Jessieville 27, at Mountain Pine 7
at Augusta 34, Elaine 23
Barton 34, at Harding Academy 19
at Hazen 37, Clarendon 18
Des Arc 28, at Marvell 17
Bearden 25, at Harmony Grove 6
at Hampton 20, Norphlet 14
Junction City 34, at Smackover 0
West Side Christian 29, at Sparkman 20
at Mineral Springs 24, Dierks 15
at Gurdon 36, Foreman 8
Lafayette County 24, at Horatio 9
at Murfreesboro 20, Lake Hamilton JV 9
at Rison 33, Altheimer 20
at Dermott 28, Strong 7
Eudora 29, at Hermitage 24
Gillett 31, at Woodlawn 12

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