Fort Smith's two high schools will be playing in separate conferences in 2020.
Fort Smith Northside will play in the 7A-Central Conference in 2020 and 2021, while its crosstown-rival Fort Smith Southside will be in the 7A-West Conference.
Tentative football conferences for 2020, 2021
• A breakdown of the tentative Arkansas high school football conference assignments for the 2020-22 cycle. Schools have 20 days after receiving an official notice from the AAA to appeal conference and/or classification assignments.
7A-CENTRAL Bryant, Cabot, Conway, FS Northside, LR Central, LR Catholic, LR Southwest, North Little Rock
7A-WEST Bentonville, Bentonville West, Fayetteville, FS Southside, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber
6A-EAST El Dorado, Jonesboro, Marion, Pine Bluff, Searcy, Sheridan, Sylvan Hills, West Memphis
6A-WEST Benton, Greenwood, Lake Hamilton, LR Parkview, Mountain Home, Russellville, Siloam Springs, Van Buren
EAST Batesville, Brookland, Forrest City, Greene County Tech, Nettleton, Paragould, Valley View, Wynne
WEST Alma, Clarksville, Farmington, Greenbrier, Harrison, Morrilton, Pea Ridge, Vilonia
CENTRAL Beebe, Jacksonville, LR Christian, LR Hall, Maumelle, Pulaski Academy, Watson Chapel, White Hall
SOUTH Camden Fairview, De Queen, Hope, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Lakeside, Magnolia, Texarkana
1-4A Berryville, Elkins, Gentry, Gravette, Green Forest, Huntsville, Prairie Grove, Shiloh Christian
2-4A Bald Knob, CAC, Clinton, Heber Springs, Lonoke, Mills, Southside Batesville, Stuttgart
3-4A Blytheville, Cave City, Gosnell, Highland, Jonesboro Westside, Pocahontas, Rivercrest, Trumann
4-4A Dardanelle, Dover, Lamar, Mena, Ozark, Pottsville, Subiaco Academy, Waldron
7-4A Arkadelphia, Ashdown, Bauxite, Benton Harmony Grove, Fountain Lake, Joe T. Robinson, Malvern, Nashville
8-4A Crossett, DeWitt, Dumas, Hamburg, Helena-West Helena, Monticello, Star City, Warren
1-3A Cedarville, Charleston, Greenland, Hackett, Lavaca, Lincoln, Mansfield, West Fork
2-3A Harding Academy, Marshall, Melbourne, Mountain View, Newport, Riverview, Rose Bud, Salem
3-3A Corning, Harrisburg, Hoxie, Manila, Osceola, Palestine-Wheatley, Piggott, Walnut Ridge
4-3A Atkins, Baptist Prep, Booneville, Danville, Mayflower, Paris, Perryville, Two Rivers
5-3A Bismarck, Centerpoint, Fouke, Genoa Central, Glen Rose, Horatio, Jessieville, Prescott
6-3A Barton, Camden Harmony Grove, Drew Central, Lake Village, McGehee, Pine Bluff Dollarway, Rison, Smackover
3-2A Cedar Ridge, Cross County, Earle, East Poinsett County, Marked Tree, McCrory, Midland, Rector
4-2A Bigelow, Conway Christian, Hector, Johnson County Westside, Magazine, Mountainburg, Quitman, Yellville-Summit
5-2A Cutter Morning Star, Gurdon, Magnet Cove, Mount Ida, Mountain Pine, Poyen
6-2A Brinkley, Carlisle, Clarendon, Des Arc, England, Hazen, Marianna, Marvell
7-2A Dierks, Foreman, Lafayette County, Mineral Springs, Murfreesboro, Spring Hill
8-2A Bearden, Fordyce, Hampton, Junction City, Parkers Chapel, Strong
The Arkansas Activities Association approved the football classifications and conferences for the 2020 and 2021 seasons Wednesday at the Summer Workshop at the Holiday Inn Airport Conference Center in Little Rock.
The last time the two Fort Smith schools were not in the same conference was 1980 when Northside played in the then-AAAAA and Southside was in the AAAA-West. Northside and Southside are currently in the 7A-Central Conference.
Fort Smith School District Athletic Director Darren McKinney said he was taken aback by the decision to have Northside and Southside in separate conferences.
"A lot of folks can't believe Northside and Southside are going to be split up," said McKinney of the community's reaction to Wednesday's news.
Northside football Coach Mike Falleur was not pleased with the decision.
"I don't like it," Falleur said. "The two schools are very competitive. All this does now is cause our parents and their parents to have a harder feeling toward each other.
"It's not a good situation."
The rivalry between Northside and Southside is one of the state's biggest. The football teams typically meet in the final week of the season, while the basketball teams play each other twice a season, including the regular-season finale.
"You either wear red and black [Northside's colors] or Columbia blue and red [Southside's colors]," McKinney said. "The town divides itself no matter what sport it is. Once it's over, they're back to being friends. But during Northside and Southside, it is a true rivalry."
Southside football Coach Jeff Williams said it's going to be strange to not play Northside at the end of the season come 2020.
"That's a game that you look forward to, Week 10 at the end of the year," Williams said. "Your year can be defined by that game."
McKinney said an appeal is possible, but he wasn't committed to doing so as of Wednesday. Schools have 20 days after they've received an official notice from the AAA to decide if they want to file an appeal.
"We're going to look at everything, we're going to see what can be done," McKinney said. "It's difficult to have one school going one way and one going the other."
When asked about the district's possible appeal, Williams said he would support whatever the district wanted.
Falleur said he hopes Northside and Southside will play each other in nonconference in 2020 and 2021.
"I think we would be crazy not to," Falleur said.
The 7A-Central for 2020 and 2021 includes Northside, Bryant, Cabot, Conway, Little Rock Central, Little Rock Catholic, North Little Rock and the new Southwest High School in Little Rock, which opens in 2020.
Along with Southside, the 7A-West features Bentonville, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Springdale and Springdale Har-Ber.
Southside returns to the 7A-West for the first time since the 2015 football season. Both Northside and Southside were longtime members of the West before both joined the 7A-Central for a two-season span in 2012 and 2013.
"It's going to be like going back home," Williams said. "We're very familiar with them and that part of the state. It's tough for our fans to get to Bryant to watch a basketball game or to Cabot to watch a football game."
In other business Wednesday, girls wrestling was approved as a sport after a presentation was made by Arkansas Wrestling Academy founder Greg Hatcher.
Arkansas is the 19th state to sanction girls wrestling. Hatcher said that the girls state wrestling tournament will be held the Thursday before the annual state wrestling tournament in February at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Since wrestling was sanctioned by the AAA in 2008, there have been several successful girls in the sport.
Destiny Nunez of Beebe was the first girl to win a wrestling state championship in Arkansas, earning the 106-pound Class 1A-5A title in 2015.
At the 11th annual state high school wrestling tournament in February, Reyna Rogers of Arkadelphia and Irelan Powell of Mountain View placed third in the 106- and 113-pound categories, respectively, in Class 1A-4A.
Sports on 06/06/2019
Print Headline: Fort Smith schools get split conferences