Van Buren, Alma and Cedarville square off against nonconference foes while the Dragons head to Hackett.
While three county teams get the benefit of hosting a nonconference game at home, the Mountainburg Dragons take the show on the road to face Hackett in a 2A-4 Conference contest.
Northside at Van Buren
The Pointers hosts the 1996 state championship team to both commemorate and celebrate the past achievement. As the fates would have it, Van Buren is squaring off against Northside in the nonconference tilt. The same school the Pointers defeated for the 1996 state title.
Last week, the Grizzlies were waylaid by Greenwood as the Bulldogs offense stayed on the field for 93 offensive plays for 518 yards of offense. Greenwood led 26-15 at halftime. The Grizzlies managed to cut into the lead after Darius Carson returned a fumble 67 yards for a touchdown with 1:11 remaining in the game. Cheuy Parga’s PAT pulled the Grizzlies within eight, 33-25, but Greenwood was able to run out the clock.
“Northside is very athletic and as athletic as anyone in the state we will see,” said Van Buren coach Greg Werner. “We got two rough teams to start our season with.”
Alma defeated Van Buren in the season opener 34-21 to give the Airedales its sixth consecutive win over the Pointers.
Van Buren had 353 yards of offense as Josh Aden rushed for 108 and Walter Green added 104. However, the Pointers fumbled seven times and lost five to keep the team from gaining any momentum.
“I thought we played well and showed great character, but we made too many mistakes,” said Werner. “When you fumble seven times… you can’t do that and win. The team put that game behind them and gave us two great days of practices, and we have to have that for the rest of the week. It’s still a long season ahead of us.”
Northside has won the last five games against Van Buren with the final meeting back in 2007. The Grizzlies won that contest 24-6 as Northside totalled a season high 445 yards of offense with Semaj Edwards leading the way with 171 yards on 25 carries.
Van Buren opened the 2007 contest with a 75-yard touchdown drive, but finished with 184 yards of offense for the game.
Van Buren defeated Northside 28-7 for the 1996 state title. Quarterback Jamie Yates ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter, ran for another in the third quarter and tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Joyce in the fourth. Van Buren’s wishbone offense totalled 4,465 yards that season.
Members of the 1996 team is going to meet with the Van Buren players after practice on Thursday and there will be a special honor for the 1996 team at halftime in Friday’s game.
Looking back at the accomplishments of the team ties into the brotherhood of which Werner and his coaching crew have been installing upon the players.
“This sort of thing continues on forever with the rest of their lives,” said Van Buren Activities Administrator Drew Cone, who was a Van Buren senior at the time the 1996 players were sophomores.
— 1996 game stats taken from Leland Barclay’s “Almanac of Arkansas High School Football”
Springdale at Alma
Alma wraps up its two-game homestand to host Springdale, who is coming off a 37-30 win at Conway.
The Bulldogs jumped to a 14-0 lead before Conway came back to go up 16-14 at halftime. Springdale led 37-23 before the Wampus Cats scored on an 85-yard punt return and recovered a fumble with 55 seconds remaining in the game. Conway had two tries from the Springdale 35 for a score, but came up short each time.
“Springdale is coming into this game with a lot of confidence after beating Conway,” said Alma coach Doug Loughridge. “Springdale has one of the best wide receivers in the state with Kyler Williams and Jayden Minchew is a college prospect who returns in the secondary. Coach Zach Clark does a good job playing to the strength of their offense. So they will take what the defense gives them. Springdale is much improved since last year.”
Van Buren held Alma to 96 yards on the ground, but the Airedales took it to the air as Noah Dotson completed 15 of 28 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns.
“We came out of a physical and emotional VB game healthy and ready to get back to work,” Loughridge said. “Our kids came back ready to work and clean up the mistakes we made against Van Buren. We are excited about getting to play another quality team in Springdale and we are anxiously awaiting the challenge. It will be a great Friday night high school football atmosphere in Airedale Stadium.”
Waldron at Cedarville
The Pirates defeated Waldron 33-26 back in 2013 as the Bulldogs was in the midst of a loss string dating back to 2011.
Waldron has its third coach in as many years, but managed to surprise Mansfield to win the season opener 45-0.
"I have a lot of respect for coach (Ricky) May. He has his players believing they can win and I'm trying to build that at Cedarville," said Pirate skipper Max Washausen. "I have all the faith in my players. I expect them to play hard and I want my team to experience success this Friday night."
Cedarville struggled a bit in its opener at Mountainburg as the Dragons won 35-0.
The Pirates had 167 yards of offense and was 5 of 14 on third-down conversions. The team also had nine penalties for 74 yards.
Andrew Hernandez was 4 of 16 passing for 106 yards to lead the Pirate offense.
Mountainburg at Hackett
While the Danville-Lavaca game this week may determine the conference title, the Mountainburg-Hackett game may decided who gets to play for the No. 2 spot for the playoffs.
The Hornets held off Pocola in its home opener 28-14 while Mountainburg defeated Cedarville 35-0.
Quency Pixley had five carries for 29 yards and was 4 of 15 passing for 53 yards. Of the missed passes, five were dropped after hitting the receiver in the chest or hands.
Elisha Vanourney returned for limited action as he hauled in two passes for 13 yards and was targeted four times during the game.
The Hornets won the game last season 26-25.