The road to the state football championship for four Faulkner County Teams starts Friday night.
Those teams lost two or fewer teams in their respective conferences this season.
Unfortunately, the lone team that didn’t make the playoffs were the Vilonia Eagles, who finished in fifth place in the 5A West.
The Eagles didn’t start out well, falling in blowout losses to Little Rock Christian and Maumelle but a win over Beebe gave the team and fans hope.
Throughout the rest of the season, Vilonia beat the teams it was supposed to in Huntsville, Clarksville and Farmington, while it fell to Alma, Harrison, Greenbrier and a close overtime loss to playoff bound Morrilton.
The Eagles season came to an end with a 46-18 loss but there is hope for the future with coach Todd Langrell in charge.
Now to the playoff teams: Conway, Greenbrier, Mayflower and Conway Christian.
Conway’s journey really started with the hiring of Keith Fimple in April after former coach Clint Ashcraft took over for Steve Daniels as Conway’s athletic director.
Since then, there was much hype around the team and then the season started.
The Wampus Cats won a pair of nail biters at the beginning of the season in a 48-41 double overtime win over El Dorado and a 24-21 win over Bentonville in back-to-back weeks.
The next two weeks saw Conway blow out Jonesboro and Southside on the road before falling to North Little Rock at home.
Not wanting to be Cabot coach Mike Malham’s 300th victim, Conway knocked off the Panthers in an overtime win on the road.
That win was the first in a four-game winning streak before looking to lock up the second spot in the 7A state playoffs against Bryant in the final week.
What happened was a 40-10 loss where the Wampus Cats couldn’t get the offense going.
Now, Conway faces a winnable first round matchup against 7A West Rogers at home.
Should the Wampus Cats win, the road will then go through Bentonville West and likely against NLR.
Mayflower also hired a new football coach in April after Langrell left following a regular season title until going undefeated in the regular season.
Backed by 16 seniors, Mayflower had the pedigree to have another strong season under first-year coach Austin Emerson.
What followed was a season where the Eagles ran all over opponents except a 40-14 loss to Glen Rose on Sept. 28.
The only other real challenge Mayflower had to face was a 40-21 over Danville, otherwise, it was win after win with a running clock.
The Eagles have flown into the playoffs as the second seed from the 4-3A conference and will host Pine Bluff Dollarway, who was a fifth place finish in the 6-3A, in the opening round.
Should Mayflower get by Dollarway, the Eagles will likely have to hit the road to undefeated Rison in the second round.
Another Eagles team finds itself in the playoffs and that team is Conway Christian.
Apart from a pair of losses to higher classification playoff teams, the Eagles steamrolled into the playoffs.
Those losses to Bauxite (49-12) and Clinton (55-21) may have backed off on the idea that CCS was a contender in the 2A.
However, what happened once 2A competition started was a thing of beauty for the Eagles, rattling off an undefeated season in the 5-2A with key wins coming in a 50-14 win over England on Oct. 5 and a 56-28 win over Magnet Cove on Oct. 26.
CCS opens the playoffs against 3-3 Lavaca at home.
If the Eagles win that game, it will host either Rector or Fordyce.
To the northernmost football playing high school in Faulkner County, it seems all Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble does is win no matter who is on the roster.
The team has once again gotten in the playoffs after a 5-2 conference season.
The only conference losses came to Harrison, which no one beat doing the season, and Morrilton.
The loss to Morrilton caused the Panthers to drop to third in the conference behind the Devil Dogs in the standings in the 5A West.
Instead of drawing the second seed and a home playoff game against Little Rock Parkview, Greenbrier will travel to Little Rock Christian, where it had lost 56-13 on Sept. 14.
However, the Panthers were without quarterback Andrew Johnson in that game.
All games start at 7 p.m. Friday.