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Bentonville High and North Little Rock closed out the 2017 football season against each other in the Class 7A state championship game at War Memorial Stadium.

They have agreed to play the next two years at Tiger Stadium, but they won't play each other. Instead, they will open the 2018 season against a pair of Oklahoma schools in an Aug. 25 doubleheader, during which North Little Rock will take on Tulsa Booker T. Washington at 4:30 p.m. while Bentonville will host Midwest City at 7:30 p.m.

CLASS 7A

BENTONVILLE TIGERS

Aug. 25^Midwest City, Okla.^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^at Conway^7 p.m.

Sept. 8^vs. Aledo, Texas%^3 p.m.

Sept.14^Open

Sept. 21^Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^at Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^at Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

% — at the Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.

*— 7A-West Conference game


BENTONVILLE WEST WOLVERINES

Aug. 24^at Owasso, Okla.^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^Fort Smith Southside^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Bryant^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^Open

Sept. 21^at Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^at Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^at Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^at Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


FAYETTEVILLE BULLDOGS

Aug. 24^at Kirkwood (Mo.) St. John Vianney^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^Owasso, Okla.^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Open

Sept. 14^at Bryant^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^at Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^at Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^at Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE GRIZZLIES

Aug. 24^Rogers Heritage^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^Greenwood^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^at Van Buren^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^Open^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^at Bryant*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^at Little Rock Central*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^Little Rock Catholic*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^at Conway*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^North Little Rock*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^at Cabot*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^Fort Smith Southside*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-Central Conference game


FORT SMITH SOUTHSIDE MAVERICKS

Aug. 24^Open

Aug. 31^at Bentonville West^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Greenwood^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^at Rogers Heritage^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^Conway*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^Cabot*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at North Little Rock*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^Bryant^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^at Little Rock Catholic^ 7 p.m.

Oct. 26^Little Rock Central*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^at Fort Smith Northside*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-Central Conference game


ROGERS HERITAGE WAR EAGLES

Aug. 24^at Fort Smith Northside^ 7 p.m.

Aug. 31^Little Rock Central^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Open

Sept. 14^Fort Smith Southside^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^at Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^at Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^at Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^at Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^Rogers High*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


ROGERS HIGH MOUNTIES

Aug. 24^Open

Aug. 31^at Pulaski Robinson^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^at Little Rock Central^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^Little Rock Parkview^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^at Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^at Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


SPRINGDALE HAR-BER WILDCATS

Aug. 24^Pulaski Academy^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^Open

Sept. 7^at Russellville^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^at Pine Bluff^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^at Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at Springdale High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^Van Buren*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^at Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


SPRINGDALE HIGH BULLDOGS

Aug. 23^Pulaski Robinson^7 p.m.

Aug. 31^at Little Rock Parkview^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Alma^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^Open

Sept. 21^Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^at Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^at Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^at Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^at Van Buren*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game


VAN BUREN POINTERS

Aug. 24^Open

Aug. 28^at Alma^7 p.m.

Sept. 7^Fort Smith Northside^7 p.m.

Sept. 14^Siloam Springs^7 p.m.

Sept. 21^at Rogers High*^7 p.m.

Sept. 28^Bentonville High*^7 p.m.

Oct. 5^at Fayetteville*^7 p.m.

Oct. 12^Rogers Heritage*^7 p.m.

Oct. 19^at Springdale Har-Ber*^7 p.m.

Oct. 26^at Bentonville West*^7 p.m.

Nov. 2^Springdale High*^7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

The two Arkansas schools will then switch opponents to begin the 2019 campaign.

"It gave us the opportunity to schedule quality opponents without playing each other," Bentonville coach Jody Grant said. "If you schedule a 7A-Central team as a nonconference game, chances are good you might see them again in the playoffs. We were trying to avoid that -- both us and North Little Rock -- and we were both looking for a game. It was difficult for both of us to find somebody.

"It was to the point where we were going to set a date that if neither team had a game we would play each other. We got to that point, but in that process, we were also looking into other schools from other states that were willing to break their contracts and join us. In the final hour, we found Booker T. Washington and Midwest City."

Bentonville and North Little Rock are among many schools in the state that will start the new season earlier than in the past. This is a result of a 2016 proposal which allows schools to schedule games on what is called "Zero Week" and gives schools four weeks to play their three nonconference games.

Almost half of the 41 teams in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette coverage area took advantage of the early start and scheduled games for Aug. 24 instead of the usual Aug. 31 start. While Bentonville will open its season with a Saturday game, Springdale High took the early start even earlier with an Aug. 23 home game against Pulaski Robinson. Class 2A Hackett will host Mansfield that same night.

"All three of our nonconference opponents this year are within 15 minutes of here," said Hackett coach Lonnie Hester, whose team will also play a pair of nearby Oklahoma schools in Pocola and Panama. "We're hoping for some good gates in these games.

"We're playing on a night that others aren't playing in hopes of increasing our attendance because everybody in these towns knows each other."

Zero Week was designed to help schools with their difficulty in finding nonconference opponents, particularly with the larger schools that didn't want to see an opponent again in the playoffs. It helped Shiloh Christian find an Aug. 24 home game against Arkansas High (Texarkana), which will drop from 6A to 5A this season.

The Saints also will have nonconference games against Trumann and Beggs, Okla., after enjoying an open date following the opener. The process of finding those games, however, isn't always easy. Shiloh Christian coach Jeff Conaway said he upset another coach by not scheduling a game against his team.

"These things take time because everybody is doing their own thing," Conaway said. "To have a verbal agreement to play a game is one thing, but to have those contracts drawn up and make those games official are another.

"I feel like we need a balanced nonconference schedule and not have three that will be either all victories or all losses. You have to use great judgment when scheduling these games, and even with the extra week it's still challenging."

The schools that opted to start their seasons a week earlier also had to decide when to schedule their open date, since the open date had to come during the nonconference portion of the schedule. Most schools opted for Week 3, which would give them two weeks between their last nonconference game and their conference opener.

Springdale Har-Ber and Gravette joined Shiloh Christian in playing an Aug. 24 game, then their open week the following week. Fayetteville, however, will play games against Kirkwood (Mo.) St. John Vianney and Owasso, Okla., then have its open date before the Bulldogs close out their nonconference slate at Bryant.

"That game in St. Louis was about as close a game as we could find," said Fayetteville coach Billy Dawson, who had to fill the Bulldogs' nonconference scheduled after he took the job before the 2017 season. "We were on pins and needles for a while because this is new ground we are experimenting with.

"But I liked the way our schedule goes. I like the idea of playing a couple of games, take a break and play another game right before conference play begins. We'll see whether it's a good idea or not, and only time will tell."

Five area schools -- Huntsville, Booneville, West Fork, Elkins and Green Forest -- will be in new classifications and conferences when the season starts, and they all turned to their old conferences to fill their nonconference schedules.

West Fork, which drops to the 3A-1 Conference this year, will play a Sept. 7 game against Elkins, the team that took West Fork's spot in the 4A-4 Conference. Huntsville, now a member of the 5A-West, filled their nonconference schedule with former 4A-1 Conference foes Gentry and Berryville.

Green Forest, the newcomer to the 4A-1 this year as it takes Huntsville's spot, will play West Fork in a nonconference game. Booneville, which falls from the 4A-4 to the 3A-1, keeps longtime rival Ozark as a nonconference game and will play former 4A-4 colleague Pottsville.

"I'm still a little apprehensive about the early start because of the heat," said Booneville coach Scott Hyatt, whose team will open Aug. 24 against Clarksville. "But when we were in 4A, we usually had to drive a long way to find games, like Star City, Pea Ridge and Gravette. Now that we're in 3A, for some reason, we have closer games.

"We're going to have three very physical nonconference games with Clarksville, Ozark and Pottsville. If we can get out of those three games healthy and be either 2-1 or 3-0, then we will be in good shape."

Preps Basketball on 06/16/2018

Print Headline: Extra week adds intrigue to football scheduling

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