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OPINION | HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS: Tigers, Bulldogs set to duke it out

by Erick Taylor | October 13, 2021 at 2:30 a.m.

The showdown that'll take place at Fayetteville's Harmon Field on Friday between No. 3 Bentonville and No. 8 Fayetteville won't decide who'll win the 7A-West, but it sure does feel like it will -- at least, indirectly.

The dominance by the Tigers and Bulldogs can be attributed to that bit of rationale.

Bentonville (5-1, 3-0) and Fayetteville (4-2, 3-0) are the only teams that have yet to drop a conference game, with each having already flexed against Rogers or Springdale Har-Ber, which currently sit in third or fourth place, respectively, in the league. Also, every one of league victories by the Tigers and Bulldogs have been by at least 20 points, and both teams routinely churn out more than 400 yards of offense per game.

But something will undoubtedly give in just a couple of days.

Bentonville has captured 14 of the past 15 7A-West titles and is currently riding a 35-game conference winning streak. Most of those victories have been relatively easy, which has seemingly become the norm for the Tigers. Running back Josh Ficklin has run for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns, while quarterback Drew Wright has thrown for 1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns for a Bentonville team averages 45 points per game in league play.

Fayetteville, too, is scoring at a 45 points-per-game clip, with quarterback Bladen Fike throwing for nearly 1,900 yards and two receivers -- Isaiah Sategna and Jalen Blackburn -- combining to catch 74 passes.

The Tigers do own the past four head-to-head victories over the Bulldogs, with the past two coming by a total of 86 points. But Fayetteville has probably had this game circled on its calendar for quite some time and will pull out all the stops to changes its recent misfortunes in the series.

Fike and the rest of the Bulldogs aren't planning on walking off their home field empty-handed yet again against Bentonville. Fayetteville 38, Bentonville 36

HARRISON AT VILONIA Austin Myers has put on a show all season for Vilonia, and that doesn't figure to stop anytime soon. Myers has thrown for more that 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns for the Eagles, who are still on track to play in a winner-take-all season finale against Greenbrier. Vilonia 45, Harrison 30

LONOKE AT MILLS Both teams suffered their first losses of the year a week ago, but each needs this victory to stay in contention in the 4A-2, especially with leader Stuttgart rolling along. Mills has to shore up its run defense after allowing Clinton to pile up huge yardage a week ago. Lonoke 30, Mills 28

GREENWOOD AT RUSSELLVILLE Greenwood looks like it may be ready to make a late-season push after getting quarterback Hunter Houston back. The Bulldogs will still have to play the top two teams in the 6A-West, one of which Russellville threw a scare into a week ago. Greenwood 42, Russellville 28

SPRINGDALE HAR-BER AT BENTONVILLE WEST West ran out of time in losing its previous game to Rogers. Now the Wolverines will get a chance to make amends and improve their playoff positioning by cooling off a suddenly hot Har-Ber team. Bentonville West 28, Springdale Har-Ber 24

CONWAY AT FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE If there's a team that could potentially slow down Conway's offense, it's Northside. The Grizzlies can play keep away with their ground game and limit the Wampus Cats' possessions. But that may be easier said than done. Conway 35, Fort Smith Northside 21

ALMA AT MORRILTON Alma has won each of the past two meetings by one point each in 2018 and 2019 and may be in line to do so again on what may be a wet night. The Devil Dogs, though, have played well in their past two games and should be ready to snap the Airedales' streak. Morrilton 25, Alma 21

POCAHONTAS AT TRUMANN Tough matchup for each. Connor Baker continues to deliver for Pocahontas wherever he lines up. That means Trumann must account for him at all times if it's going to win a fifth game in a row. Pocahontas 35, Trumann 28

CHARLESTON AT HACKETT Brandon Scott continues to play well for Charleston, which has coasted through the 3A-1 up until this point. Hackett pulled off a huge victory at Cedarville, yet may to play its best game of the year to beat the league's top team. Charleston 40, Hackett 28

FORT SMITH SOUTHSIDE AT ROGERS HERITAGE The winner keeps its playoff hopes alive. Heritage, which has lost 28 consecutive 7A-West games, has quietly gotten big-time performances from running back Eli Craig. Still, the Mavericks should have more than enough to win going away. Fort Smith Southside 37, Rogers Heritage 28

RISON AT McGEHEE This should decided the 3A-6 Conference title ... should. Rison shut out McGehee the last time they played (30-0 in 2019), and the Owls surely haven't forgotten. Both defenses have been stingy all season, but McGehee's playmakers could be the difference offensively. McGehee 34, Rison 22

HOT SPRINGS AT MAGNOLIA A victory for Hot Springs keeps it on Camden Fairview's heels in the 5A-South. The Trojans have outscored their past two opponents 87-20, including a 50-0 destruction of De Queen last week. Magnolia, in turn, can move into second place with a win. Magnolia 34, Hot Springs 32

MENA AT OZARK The home team has a bit of revenge on its mind after what happened a year ago in its loss to Mena. Ozark was off last week, which gave the Hillbillies extended time to prepare for Austin Rose and the rest of the Bearcats. Ozark 35, Mena 23

HELENA-WEST HELENA AT HAMBURG In a matchup where neither has won a game, Hamburg and Helena-West Helena are about as evenly matched as can be. Hamburg has looked nothing like the team that advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2020. Helena-West Helena 30, Hamburg 18

HAZEN AT CLARENDON There's nowhere to go but up for Hazen after being dominated by rival Des Arc last week for the third year in a row. And the Hornets may have a tough time hanging with the Clarendon Lions, who just showed how talented they really are in a blowout over England. Clarendon 36, Hazen 28

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