Bentonville (Ark.) is 34-1 the past three seasons, but that one thorn is Fayetteville (Ark.), which beat the Tigers 29-28 in overtime in last year’s 7A Arkansas state football championship.
No. 18 Bentonville plays the Bulldogs again Friday in the teams’ regular season finale. At stake is the 7A-West Conference title and a first-round playoff bye.
“I don’t think the ones who played in that game last year have forgotten Fayetteville,” Tigers coach Barry Lunney said. “It was a tough loss. We had beaten them handily in a regular season. My hope is we don’t get too emotional.”
Bentonville (9-0) has been led by running back Tearris Wallace, who has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his career.
“We know what kind of running back Wallace is,” Fayetteville coach Daryl Patton said. “We have to know where he is at all times.”
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Fayetteville’s Austin Allen, whose has said he will sign with Arkansas, has thrown for 2,727 yards and 24 touchdowns with only two interceptions this season.
“Awesome Allen is an outstanding quarterback, a three-year starter,” Lunney said. “He doesn’t make mistakes.”
Patton hopes it will be difficult for Bentonville to adjust to Fayetteville’s air attack.
“I don’t think they’ve played a quarterback as good as we’ve got,” Patton said.
If the teams meet again this season, it will be in the state championship. Patton would like to see that matchup but Lunney isn’t sure.
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“We’re the only team in the past two years who can say we beat them,” Patton said. “Our kids understand they have to play a good game.”
“If we can win (Friday), I hope I won’t see them in Little Rock,” Lunney said. “Our conference has won the title six or seven years in a row. It’s difficult to play each other as many times as you play them. It’s good for the league, but it’s tough on the coaches. There are not a lot of new things you can do. There’s a great familiarity with each other.”
No. 7 Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) at Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.), Friday
The unbeaten teams (Camden is 8-0, Lowndes is 9-0), haven’t met since the second round of the 2009 playoffs. Lowndes has been the bully in 1-AAAAA in recent years, while Camden County, new to 1-AAAAA this year, terrorized 3-AAAAA teams in the past. This is Camden’s first trip to the Concrete Palace since 2002.
“They’re well-coached,” Camden County coach Jeff Herron said. “Their kids expect to win, just like ours do. They’ll have a huge crowd. Every time we’ve played them, it’s been a back-and-forth defensive struggle for both teams. We expect that kind of game. In that game, the slightest mistake can cost you a game. You can’t have turnovers and those type of things.”
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Camden County is led offensively by two players who have said they will sign with Georgia: quarterback Brice Ramsey, who has thrown for 950 yards and 16 touchdowns and J.J. Green, who has run for 563 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Lowndes has a punishing running game, led by Nick Burgman (761 yards) and Tijuan Lang.
No. 5 De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) at California (San Ramon, Calif.), Friday
California coach Eric Belleci, a former tight end for De La Salle, would like nothing better than to upset his alma mater. California is 8-1, but De La Salle (9-0) hasn’t lost to a Northern California opponent in 231 games. A key player for California’s hopes is running back Karris Johnson, who has rushed for 1,105 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Spartans also rely on a big rushing game, led by Tia Vitale (1,296 yards, 16 touchdowns) and the recent emergence of Das Tautalatasi (534 yards and three touchdowns).
No. 2 John Curtis (River Ridge, La.) at South Plaquemines (Port Sulphur, La.), Friday
The Patriots (8-0) have outscored opponents 361-31 this season but can’t afford a letdown against South Plaquemines (7-1). Look for the defense of John Curtis to slow Hurricanes running back Joseph Gibson, who has scored 15 touchdowns.
No. 23 Colerain (Cincinnati) vs. vs. St. Xavier (Cincinnati) in Div. I regional quarterfinal, Saturday
Only three points separated these two in their last meeting, a 31-28 Colerain win on Sept. 7, St. Xavier (6-4) has bedeviled Colerain in recent years, holding a 4-1 edge in playoff games since 2005. Colerain is led by dual-threat quarterback Alfred Ramsby, who has thrown for 1,281 yards and 13 touchdowns and run for 1,103 yards and 15 touchdowns. Bombers quarterback Nick Tensing has thrown for 1,908 yards and 17 touchdowns and running back CJ Hilliard has run for 626 yards and nine touchdowns. St. Xavier’s four losses are misleading because they’ve all been close defeats to teams that were or are in the Super 25.