As of right now, every football team in Faulkner County will have a postseason date.
What may be the most important thing for county teams is they’re all in a position where they don’t have to rely on other teams to beat a specific team in their respective conference. Instead, each school, Conway, Greenbrier, Vilonia, Conway Christian and Mayflower, controls its destiny.
Greenbrier (6-2, 4-1) is having its best season since joining the 5A-West in 1996. The Panthers may go into the playoff season with the highest seed out of any team in the county. Greenbrier’s 4-1 conference mark puts them in tie with Alma for second. However, the Panthers’ 36-33 victory over the Airedales two weeks ago, gives them the tiebreaker edge. The Panthers are on the road to face Harrison this Friday night, before a season-end game with arch-rival Vilonia. Having a share of the 5A-West is not out of the realm of possibility for the Panthers either, if Greenwood can suffer a setback in one of its last two games. The Bulldogs go to rival Alma next week.
"We feel good about where we are," Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble said. "We mentioned to the guys that we have a chance for a second, but all week we’ve been getting ready for Harrison. We know that anybody can beat us, but we can also beat anybody if we can play good. We’re just excited about where the program is going. We’re glad that we can get thrown into that playoff discussion."
Vilonia (5-3, 3-2) is sitting in fourth in the West, after its big win against Central Arkansas Christian last Friday. The Eagles’ wins over the Mustangs and Siloam Springs turned out to be huge in terms of receiving that last playoff position. Two years ago, the Eagles went into the state playoffs as a No. 4 seed and recorded upsets over Blytheville and West Helena, before losing to Michael Dyer and Little Rock Christian in the semifinals. Vilonia travels to Morrilton this week, before returning to Philip Weaver Stadium for a Thursday night battle for the Faulkner County Judge’s Cup.
"We’re not looking ahead and we’re not worrying about that other stuff right now," Vilonia coach Jim Stanley said. "We just have to make sure that we take it one game at a time. Everybody can beat everybody in our conference."
Both of Conway schools, Conway High (3-5, 2-3) and Conway Christian (5-3, 3-2) are locks for berths in the postseason. The Wampus Cats’ 31-0 win over Little Rock Central earlier in the year and their 35-7 victory over the Pointers on Friday night provided a playoff bid. Conway can improve its position with a win over Russellville this Friday or over Little Rock Catholic next Thursday.
The Conway Christian-Two Rivers game this week at Mission Field will come down to who’ll get the third and fourth seeds. The winner of the game will get third and the loser, fourth. Mountain Pine’s game against Cutter Morning Star could also determine what happens in the postseason.
"If we can shut down their two best players, then we’ll have our way with them," Conway Christian coach Chuck Speer said. "This is a big game for us. The weather has been crazy and preparing in the gym hasn’t been ideal."
After Mayflower’s 37-27 loss to Barton last week, the Eagles are in line for a No. 3 seed. Mayflower (3-5, 3-2) will be heavily favored in their next two games against England and Episcopal Collegiate.
"Our kids and coaches are disappointed because we don’t have a home playoff game," Mayflower coach Jed Davis said. "I told everyone that there were some No. 3 seeds that made a run through the playoffs last year, including a team that went to the semifinals."
Davis said playing the likes of Clarksville, Greenbrier and Glen Rose in the non-conference part of their schedule helped better prepare the Eagles for their conference and postseason. Davis believes conference losses against Harding Academy and Barton should also benefit his team in the long run.
"I believe we’re our own worst enemy," Davis said. "I’m not concerned about who we are playing and where we are playing at. I am concerned about our missed tackles and turnovers. It’s all up to us. If we don’t turn the ball over and miss tackles then we win some of those games."