The high school football games are gaining importance as the season wears on.
Local teams are vying for playoff spots and seedings, and tonight’s games should be no exception in terms of the postseason. After Mayflower played Thursday night, the remaining Faulkner County teams will all be at home tonight.
Conway Christian and Vilonia will both be celebrating homecoming. CCS will take on Bigelow at 7 p.m., while Vilonia will host top-ranked Greenwood at 7:30.
Conway will be looking to build off its first 7A-Central Conference win — after blanking Little Rock Central 31-0 last week — when the Wampus Cats host Bryant at 7 p.m.
Greenbrier will host Alma at 7:30 p.m.
Bryant (5-1, 2-1) at Conway (2-4, 1-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
The Wampus Cats must gain momentum to make a strong push into the Class 7A playoffs.
Conway missed the postseason last week, and Cats coach Clint Ashcraft said he hopes last week’s win will be the start of things to come in the playoff push. Conway made several changes, including personnel, last week, and that seemed to work.
Tristan Eddings hauled in six catches for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win. However, receiver Jaalan Windham suffered a shoulder injury and will be out tonight. On the plus side, the Cats will get receiver Jalen Jones into the mix for the first time this season. He missed the first six weeks with a foot injury.
Bryant running back Chris Rycraw has gained 832 yards this season and leads a very capable Hornet offense. How well the Conway defense adjusts to that will play a large role in success it would have.
The Cats have a big matchup witht Van Buren looming, as both teams will most likely be in the mix for one of the final playoff spots since Central is winless. However, a win tonight or against Russellville and/or Little Rock Catholic in the final two weeks would greatly enhance those chances.
Bigelow (1-5, 1-3) vs. Conway Christian (3-3, 2-1)
Time: 7 p.m.
It is a pivotal game for seeding in the state playoffs for Conway Christian. A win by Bigelow enhances its chances to make the postseason.
Conway Christian currently stands fifth in the 5-2A Conference standings at 3-2 behind Cutter Morning Star at 2-1. However, Cutter Morning Star, which upset Two Rivers last week, still has games against some of the teams at the top of the standings, and CCS has the tiebreaker over Cutter because of a victory in head-to-head competition. Unless another upset or two occurs, the Eagles still seem to have a playoff berth assured. Bigelow is the defending conference champion and defeated the Eagles handily last season.
Quotable: "Bigelow has struggled a bit this year, but still has a very physical team," CCS coach Chuck Speer said. "It’s almost a must-win for us if we want a higher seed and the home field for the first round of the playoffs. We need a victory if we are to have a chance at third or fourth."
Alma (3-2-1, 3-0) at Greenbrier (4-2, 2-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
This is a game between two teams in the upper tier of the conference.
Greenbrier traveled to Greenwood last Friday night, and the results were not too kind to the Panthers. The Bulldogs blew open a close first half game and turned it into a 49-14 homecoming rout. The Airedales had a rout of their own while enforcing the mercy rule on Vilonia in a 47-7 drubbing.
Alma have been considered to have one of the toughest rushing and passing attacks in the conference. The Airedales have shown why their dangerous on offense putting up an average of 43.7 points a game in the 5A-West. Alma started off 0-2-1 on the season, after a tie with Van Buren in the opening week. The other two nonconference losses came to 7A-West members Springdale and Springdale Har-ber. The Airedales beat Central Arkansas Christian 37-10, then followed up with a 47-21 beating of Morrilton.
Greenbrier has a potent offense as well with the one-two punch of quarterback Neal Burcham and running back Hunter Winston. Burcham is second in the county is passing yards, but leads in touchdowns and least interceptions thrown. Winston is the leading rusher in the county.
Greenwood (6-0, 3-0) at Vilonia (4-2, 2-1)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Vilonia has its chance to knock off the top-ranked and undefeated Bulldogs.
The Eagles are looking to bounce back from a 47-7 loss to Alma last Friday night. Vilonia has historically played Greenwood tougher than any other opponent in the West. The Eagles also defeated the Bulldogs a couple a years in the regular season before Greenwood went on to win the state championship. Jim Stanley’s double-winged offensive attack usually gives the Bulldogs fits. Both teams are no strangers to scoring points in this game either. Neither team has had trouble scoring this season, with the exception of Vilonia’s loss to last week.
Greenwood’s balanced attack is led by quarterback Tyler Shook, and Vilonia is led by its sophomore running backs, including James Sax. Sax also has shown the ability to score on kickoff returns, scoring three-out-of-four times that he touched the ball this season.