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story.lead_photo.caption Bentonville High School Donte Jones (15) carries the ball as Bentonville West High School Kobe Anderson (6) tackles during a football game, Friday, November 2, 2018 at Bentonville High School in Bentonville. - Photo by Charlie Kaijo

A fan who follows high school football tried to convince me the loss by Bentonville West last week takes the shine off tonight’s game with Bentonville High.

He is wrong, mostly because this wasn’t going to be a battle of unbeaten teams anyway. That was determined in Week 1 when Bentonville West lost 47-34 to Owasso, Okla. The stakes remain high for Bentonville (9-0, 6-0) and Bentonville West (6-3, 5-1), who will decide the 7A-West Conference championship for the third consecutive year.

Both teams will advance to postseason play regardless of tonight’s outcome. But there’s nothing like beating your rival, especially when a win secures a No. 1 seed and possible home-field advantage through the semifinals of the Class 7A state playoffs.

The Tigers excel in all three phases — offense, defense, and special teams. Defense and special teams are especially important in November and December when a missed field goal or a dropped punt can send a team home sooner than expected. West has the home-field advantage against Bentonville for the first time and the Wolverines will benefit if receiver Stephen Dyson and linebacker/running back Nick Whitlatch return, as expected.

Bentonville has avoided the mistakes that contributed to an 0-3 start last year and Bentonville West can expect no help from the Tigers tonight. The question is whether the game will resemble the 31-7 blowout for Bentonville last year or the 37-28 thriller for the Tigers over the Wolverines in 2017.

The atmosphere for the showdown two years ago was electric, when Bentonville West was 9-0 entering the game. Wouldn’t it be something if West wins tonight and ruins Bentonville’s perfect record? Wouldn’t it? Nah. Won’t happen.

RICK’S PICK: Bentonville High

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

CLASS 7A

SPRINGDALE HAR-BER at Fayetteville Rogers Heritage at ROGERS VAN BUREN at Spring-dale FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE at Fort Smith Southside

CLASS 6A

GREENWOOD at Lake Hamilton SILOAM SPRINGS at Russellville

CLASS 5A

Huntsville at ALMA Farmington at HARRISON Clarksville at MORRILTON Greenbrier at VILONIA

CLASS 4A

Gravette at GENTRY BERRYVILLE at Green Forest LINCOLN at Prairie Grove Pea Ridge at SHILOH CHRISTIAN Mena at DARDANELLE Elkins at OZARK Pottsville at SUBIACO ACADEMY

CLASS 3A

Cedarville at BOONEVILLE LAMAR at Charleston MANSFIELD at Paris GREENLAND at West Fork

CLASS 2A

JC Westside at HACKETT Hector at MOUNTAIN-BURG

LAST WEEK 25-1 (96 percent)

OVERALL 202-42 (82 percent)

Rick Fires can be reached at rfires@nwadg.com or on Twitter @NWARick.

Print Headline: Bentonville, Bentonville West to decide 7A-West championship again

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