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Remember the playoffs last season, when three teams from the 4A-1 Conference advanced to the semifinals in Class 4A?

It was an impressive showing by Prairie Grove, Shiloh Christian and, especially, Pea Ridge, which finished 13-2 with a loss to Warren in the championship game. One standout season does not cement a league's reputation, but the 4A-1 Conference is expected to be strong again.

The Blackhawks play at Booneville tonight after outscoring Hamburg 50-30 in their season-opener on Monday. Prairie Grove was impressive in its 36-13 victory at Farmington on Tuesday. Shiloh Christian plays Elkins tonight and Pea Ridge heads down the hill again to Booneville, a proud program trying to recapture its elite status.

Booneville lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two years. That's quite a drop-off for the Bearcats, who won state championships in 1986, 2000, and 2013. Pea Ridge, by contrast, is on the upswing after winning at least 10 games in four of the past five seasons.

The Blackhawks are loaded again on offense with quarterback Jakota Sainsbury, receiver Hayden Holtgrewe, and running back Drew Winn, who rushed for over 1,300 yards and 23 touchdowns last season while splitting time with Zaine Holley, who had almost 1,700 yards.

Booneville will attempt to contain Pea Ridge with several returning starters on defense. Offensively, the Bearcats will rely on talented young players like quarterback Brandon Ulmer and fullback Carson Ray, both juniors. Ulmer ran for nearly 400 yards and led Booneville to three blowout victories after taking over in Week 7.

Teams don't often leave the land of the Bearcats with a victory, even in lean years for Booneville. But Pea Ridge is a powerful team and the Blackhawks will have another fun bus ride home after going 2-0 for the week.

RICK'S PICK Pea Ridge

Other games involving teams from Northwest Arkansas (selections are capitalized).

CLASS 7A

PRYOR (Okla.) at Bentonville West

Bentonville High at ROCKHURST (MO.)

SPRINGDALE HAR-BER at Fort Smith Southside

CONWAY at Springdale High

ROGERS HERITAGE at Little Rock Central

ROGERS HIGH at Siloam Springs

FAYETTEVILLE at Blue Springs (Mo.)

CLASS 6A

Fort Smith Northside at GREENWOOD

CLASS 5A

RUSSELLVILLE at Morrilton

Clarksville at LAMAR

CLASS 4A

PEA RIDGE at Booneville

LAVACA at Gentry

Elkins at SHILOH CHRISTIAN

GRAVETTE at Ozark

MANSFIELD at Waldron

HUNTSVILLE at Green Forest

Lincoln at WESTVILLE, OKLA.

CLASS 3A

West Fork at GREENLAND

MOUNTAINBURG at Cedarville

PARIS at Yellville-Summit

CLASS 2A

BERRYVILLE at Decatur

Pocoloa, Okla. at HACKETT

Last year: 158-43 (78 percent)

Sports on 09/01/2017

Print Headline: Pea Ridge double trouble for Week 1 opponents

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