It was quite a scene in Centerton on Aug. 31 when Bentonville West opened its new stadium.
There were games for kids, plenty of food and a range of entertainment that included everything except fire breathers and circus elephants. The only negative was the final score:
Fort Smith Southside 44, Bentonville West 31.
So, let’s try again.
Bentonville West will host a playoff game in its stadium for the first time tonight against Conway. West received a first-round bye last week while Conway advanced with a 49-7 victory over Rogers to begin the Class 7A state playoffs.
No one should be more eager to take the field tonight than the Wolverines, who were splattered 31-7 by rival Bentonville in a game that decided the championship in the 7A-West. West also lost
to Bentonville in 2017 before being eliminated 48-40 by Conway from the playoffs.
Conway has many of the same players, including quarterback Jovoni Johnson, who maneuvers easily behind a huge offensive line.
Bentonville West will counter with top playmakers like quarterback Will Jarrett, running back Tyrese Smallwood, and receivers Jadon Jackson and Tucker Swaboda. The passing game for Bentonville West was mostly off target against Bentonville, which is understandable considering Jarrett had missed most of the season because of an injury. Expect a return
to form for Bentonville West tonight following a week with plenty of practice time.
West certainly didn’t look like a playoff contender when the Wolverines started 0-3 on the season. But an upset win at Fayetteville began a six-game winning streak for the Wolverines, who reached the conference championship game for the second straight year.
With Jarrett back, the Wolverines will match the hype tonight and earn its first play-off victory.
Bring on the circus animals.
RICK’S PICKS Bentonville West
Other games involving teams from Northwest Arkansas (selections are capitalized).
Fort Smith Southside at NORTH LITTLE ROCK
Fort Smith Northside at BENTONVILLE
FAYETTEVILLE at Bryant
Searcy at GREENWOOD
Wynne at HARRISON
Lonoke at OZARK
Mena at SHILOH CHRISTIAN
Mansfield at OSCEOLA
Walnut Ridge at BOONEVILLE
Magazine at FOREMAN
Mountainburg at JUNCTION CITY
Mount Ida at HECTOR
LAST WEEK 15-6 (71 percent)
OVERALL 219-54 (80 percent)
Rick Fires can be reached at r email@example.com or on Twitter @NWARick.