With his team sitting through a bye week for the Class 7A state football playoffs for the second straight year, Conway football coach Clint Ashcraft changed the strategy.
The Wampus Cats, 8-2 and the No. 1 seed from 7A/6A Central, hosts Fayetteville, the No. 3 team from the West that mercy-ruled Little Rock Catholic last week, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Centennial Bank Field at John McConnell Stadium.
The Cats also had a bye week last year and lost to Springdale Har-Ber in the quarterfinals.
“Instead of spending the bye week working on a possible opponent, we spent the week forcused on us,” Ashcraft said. “We tried to fix some little things that we needed to get better at. I think it worked. We got better in some areas that we needed to get better in.”
Fayetteville handled Catholic easily, 42-13, with Austin Allen handling the controls at quarterback and the running of Brian Gaghahans.
“They have a multiple attack,” Ashcraft said. “There is not an offensive front they haven’t lined up in a game at some point. They are multiple on defense and come at you with a lot of different looks.”
He said the Cats have had a good week of practice and are eager to play after a 13-day layoff.
“We were able to get in the weight room and get more conditioning,” Ashcraft said. “Another good thing is we had several players with bumps and bruises that we had time for them to get better.”
The winner gets either Fort Smith Northside or Southside in the semifinals next week on the home field of the highest seeded team.
The Panthers (9-2) have a game under their belts, a victory at home or Arkadelphia.
They’ll travel to Batesville, the 5A-East champion that has won eight straight games and is averaging 41 points per game.
The Pioneers are led by Jordan Childress, who is 83 yards short of becoming the Pioneers’ all-time leading rusher. He has 3,529 yards on 487 carries and 44 touchdowns for his career. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in 20 of 24 games in his career. He has 1,762 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.
The Panthers, the second-place team from the West, will counter with a passing attack that has produced more than 4,000 yards with Chase Roberts taking over after Neal Burcham tore an ACL in the regular-season finale against Vilonia.
“Roberts isn’t exactly a backup quarterback,” Batesville coach Dave King told Hooten’s Arkansas Football. “They seem to be rallying around him.”
The winner plays either Hot Springs Lakeside or White Hall next week on the home field of the highest-seeded team.
At CONWAY (8-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Centennial Bank Field at John McConnell Stadium
Notable: Conway, as the 7A/6A champion, had a first-round bye last week. Fayetteville, the No. 3 team from the West, defeated Little Rock Catholic. Winner will polay Fort Smith Southside or Northside in the semifinals.
at BATESVILLE (9-2)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Pioneer Stadium
Notable: Batesville, the 5A-East champion, has won eight in a row, including a 40-6 victory over Helena West Helena last week. Greenbrier down Arkadelphia, 35-16, in the first round. The winner plays either Hot Springs Lakeside or White Hall in the semifinals.