The high school football regular season is nearing its end.
Tonight's games mark the next to the last week of the 2009 season, and playoff spots are still on the line. For many teams, an improvement in seeding is still at stake as well.
Conway hosts longtime rival Russellville tonight, while Conway Christian has a tough battle with Two Rivers in a key 5-2A Conference matchup. Mayflower is also at home, hosting England.
Greenbrier, which is still in line for at least a No. 2 seed in the 5A-West will play at Harrison. Vilonia, which solidified its playoff chances with a win over Central Arkansas Christian last week, will play at Morrilton tonight.
RUSSELLVILLE (6-1-1, 4-1) at CONWAY (3-5, 2-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: John McConnell Stadium.
Conway is in good shape to reach the Class 7A state playoffs after notching a win over Van Buren last week. The Wampus Cats now have 7A-Central victories over Little Rock Central and Van Buren and sport a better league record than those two, making a playoff berth likely.
However, a win tonight over arch-rival Russellville would go a long way in officially securing a playoff berth and improve the Cats' seeding.
Conway defeated the then top-ranked Cyclones last year 10-7 after a late Ben Riner field goal. Russellville was 8-0 heading into that game before Cats pulled off the upset.
Conway quarterback Xavier Acklin is coming off a 158-yard rushing performance against the Pointers and scored four touchdowns on the ground. His play will be a key factor in tonight's contest.
TWO RIVERS (4-2, 3-2) at CONWAY CHRISTIAN (4-2, 5-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Mission Field
The game should determine third place in 5-2A Conference and a home playoff spot. It’s Senior Night for the Eagles.
Two Rivers is the merged school district among Ola, Fouche Valley and Plainview in Yell County. It gets its name because the school is between the Fouche and Petit Jean Rivers ... The Gators have been the both the league’s surprise and mystery team this season. They upset second-place Mountain Pine earlier in the season and played league-leader Danville tough in a 7-6 loss last week. Both of those games were at home ... The Gators are led by sophomore quarterback Blake Noakes, who led the junior high team to a 9-1 record last season. They also get a lot of mileage out of bruising fullback Clay Damon ... Conway Christian coach Chuck Speer said his stadium’s playing surface seems to be in good shape considering recent rains. "Fortunately, most of the weekends that were the wettest, we were on the road and our field didn’t get torn up," he said ... The Eagles can finish anywhere from third to fifth in the conference. A victory would clinch third place. A loss would put them either fourth or fifth depending on the outcome of Cutter Morning Star’s game with Mountain Pine. At this point, it seems a third-place finish would have CCS hosting Salem in the first round of the playoffs. A fourth-place finish would likely send them to Des Arc for the opening round A fifth-place finish likely means a first-round game at Magazine.
GREENBRIER AT HARRISON
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Sheridan Garrison Field
Greenbrier is still alive for at least a share of the 5A-West Conference crown.
The Panthers are in a tie with Alma for second in the conference standings with a 4-1 mark. Since Greenbrier beat the Airedales two weeks ago, 36-33, it has the head-to-head advantage for the No. 2 seed. If the Panthers win out and Greenwood falls tonight or next week, then there could be a share of the conference crown.
The Panthers are also off to their best start in school history since joining Class 5A.
On the other end, Harrison has struggled this season under longtime coach Tommy Tice. The Goblins have been in every ballgame, but the results haven’t turned out the way they would have liked them to. Harrison’s only conference victory came two weeks ago, edging Morrilton 20-19. The Goblins lost to Central Arkansas Christian 20-16 in Week 6, and dropped one to Alma, 32-17, last week... Greenbrier’s Neal Burcham and Hunter Winston were named the Log Cabin Democrat’s Co-Players of the Week for their performances last week in a 56-33 victory over Morrilton. The Goblins’ defense has shown that it has had a hard time of stopping opponents, as Greenwood and Vilonia put up 49 and 30.
VILONIA AT MORRILTON
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Devil Dog Stadium
The Vilonia Eagles have set themselves up nicely for a 5A-West playoff berth. The Eagles’ 32-31 overtime victory over Siloam Springs during Week 5 turned out to be huge, which eventually set up last week’s game with Central Arkansas Christian. CAC and Vilonia went into last Friday night’s game with a 2-2 conference record, so the winner was going to have an inside track at that final playoff spot ... Vilonia ended up winning the game, which could arguably be its biggest win of the season. The Mustangs were bumped down to the fifth spot with a 2-3 mark. Even if the Eagles suffer a setback in one of their next two games, they’ll get the last playoff spot because they beat the Mustangs head-to-head. CAC has to travel to top-ranked Greenwood today ... Vilonia’s home game next week sets up nicely for the Eagles on their Senior Night. The Eagles’ regular-season finale and battle for the Faulkner County Judge’s Cup will have playoff implications ... However, the Eagles don’t want to overlook a dangerous Morrilton squad. The Devil Dogs’ Justin Criswell rushed for over 400 yards and scored five touchdowns last week in Greenbrier.
ENGLAND AT MAYFLOWER
Time: 7 p.m.
Place: Patrick Stadium
England (0-8, 0-5) at Mayflower (3-5, 3-2)
Notable: Mayflower is coming off a tough 37-27 loss at Barton. The Eagles’ game last Friday night was for second in the conference. Unfortunately for Mayflower, it won’t be able to host a home playoff game at Patrick Stadium this season after slipping to a potential No. 3 seed. Mayflower coach Jed Davis reminded his team this week that a couple of No. 3 seeds made a run through the state playoffs last season, including one that made it to the semifinals. Now, Davis has his troops’ attention turned to their last two opponents, England and Episcopal Collegiate. ... The Eagles have been plagued by turnovers this season. Mayflower quarterback Jordan Dycus is among the leaders in Class 3A in interceptions with 10. The Eagles also rank amongst the leaders in fumbles lost. Davis hopes his team can overcome the mental mistakes, and take control of the situation.
The Lions are coming into the game battered and bruised without a single win on the season. England hasn’t been able to do anything right on offense or defense this entire season. The Eagles have had their share of ups and downs on the season. Mayflower beat conference contender Riverview, but since then has lost to Harding Academy and Barton.