Attending football games may be a little different this season but the games remain the same.

Van Buren and Cedarville kickoff the 2020 campaign this week as both teams face opponents in Week Zero.

The Pointers are coming off a 6-5 season with first-year head coach Crosby Tuck and a trip to the Class 7A playoffs. This season, Van Buren moves to the Class 6A and hosts former 7A West foe Springdale to open the season.

Cedarville began last season 6-1 but three straight losses cost the Pirates another shot for the playoffs. While conference play won’t begin for another four weeks, Cedarville head to Berryville to begin the season.

Springdale at Van Buren

Van Buren ended the regular season with back-to-back wins including a 31-12 decision in Northwest Arkansas at Springdale. It was the first time since 2010 the Pointers had two consecutive wins and three or more conference wins in a season.

"I expect Springdale to be much improved physically this year," said coach Crosby Tuck. "What they do well is schematically, their X's and O's, and they do some good stuff. I'll be an exciting matchup and it'll be good for our guys."

Gary Phillips had 17 carries for 151 yards and three touchdowns, including a run for 50 yards, against the Bulldogs. Brayden added a 31-yard TD run and finished with 11 carries for 78 yards. Phillips was also 14 of 21 passing for 153 yards to six different receivers. Jude Bartholomew caught six passes for 52 yards.

"It was good for us to see what we're good at and where we need to make corrections," said Tuck. "[The scrimmage] was important since we didn't have any team camps or spring football. We were limited because of some of the guidelines we had to deal with [COVID-19]. It was just one test before playing someone real. There are some fundamentals to work on and making sure we understand what we have work on and what we have to do this week. 

"I expect us to be a bit sharper. It's still early in the season and everyone is in the same boat as us."

Van Buren’s final game of 2019 was a 35-27 loss to Little Rock Catholic.

Cedarville at Berryville

Cedarville is looking to get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2015 and while Friday’s contest won’t determine the Pirates’ post-season chances, it will give the players and coaches a chance to see where they stand.

“They’re big and Berryville’s school enrollment is about twice our size,” said coach Max Washausen. “I like our speed and aggressiveness, and the team’s overall competitiveness. We know this will be a good challenge for us but we are ready for it.”

Berryville finished 3-7 last season. The Bobcats snapped a six-game conference skid by defeating Green Forest 42-14. Cedarville will play Green Forest in the first 1-3A Conference game on Sept. 18.

The Pirates ended their season with a 40-0 loss to Booneville, whose senior class won 21 consecutive conference games since they were freshmen.

Darryl Kattich paced the Pirates with 96 yards with 18 carries while the team was limited to 194 yards on offense. Kattich finished the season with 1,511 yards on 171 carries and 18 touchdowns.

Friday Night’s Games

Springdale at Van Buren

Cedarville at Berryville

Next Week’s Games

Van Buren at Alma

Cedarville at Mountainburg