4A-1 Race Should Be A Doozy

AN FBH GRAV DUARTE
FILE PHOTO — Cedric Duarte of Gravette has exploded out of the gate with more than 600 yards rushing and 8 TDs for the Lions.

The preliminaries are over. It’s time to get down to the serious business at hand as conference play begins this week across the state.

The 4A-1 Conference race promises to be a dogfight from start to finish with no clear cut favorite, but plenty of worthy teams that should be in the race for the league title all the way to the end of the regular season.

Let’s start with defending champion Prairie Grove, fresh off a blowout win over West Fork on Friday. The Tigers, to no one’s surprise, are solid again this season. Although they lost some excellent players from last year’s team, the Tigers have plenty left to repeat. Bobby Catt had 105 yards and a TD, and another TD catch last week, but was suffered an ankle injury against West Fork.

Pea Ridge is off to a 3-0 start and got a huge lift in its 43-8 win over Paris on Friday when TE Tristan Trundle returned after breaking his femur early in the summer. The Blackhawks have already eclipsed last year’s win total and are looking to return to the playoffs.

Huntsville, moving down from the 5A-West, is off to a 2-1 start behind the running of Christian Cain. The Eagles could make a huge statement this week with a win at Prairie Grove.

Lincoln rebounded from losses in its first two games to throttle Cedarville. The Wolves may be coming around after replacing their coach and quarterback this spring.

Shiloh Christian played a tough nonconference schedule and are 1-2 in Jeff Conaway’s first season. The Saints have struggled in defending the pass in losses to Charleston and Victory Christian. But the Saints are explosive offensively and will be in mix as sophomore QB Connor Reece continues to improve every week.

Gentry and Berryville appear to be a notch below the rest of the teams in the conference, although the Bobcats appear to be much improved this season.

And that brings us to Gravette. The Lions were dominated in their season opening loss to Pottsville, but have won two straight behind RB Cedric Duarte, who has rushed for 639 yards and 8 touchdowns in three games. The Lions have rebounded from the Pottsville loss and are running behind a massive offensive line that will try to impose its will against the rest of the league.

The Lions open conference play on the road at Lincoln this week. This will be their third straight road game, but it is key if Gravette expects to contend for the league title.

The race for the league title and top seed in the playoffs will be a battle for the next seven weeks for sure.

4A-1 Conference

^Conf.^Overall

Team^W-L^W-L-T^PF^PA

Pea Ridge^0-0^3-0-0^104^20

Berryville^0-0^2-1-0^92^83

Gravette^0-0^2-1-0^99^67

Huntsville^0-0^2-1-0^62^68

Prairie Grove^0-0^1-1-0^69^34

Lincoln^0-0^1-2-0^75^98

Shiloh Christian^0-0^1-2-0^53^91

Gentry^0-0^0-3-0^37^108

Friday’s Scores

Berryville 36, Green Forest 34

Greenland 24, Gentry 15

Gravette 41, Jay, Okla. 7

Huntsville 31, Elkins 14

Lincoln 45, Cedarville 22

Pea Ridge 43, Paris 8

Prairie Grove 42, West Fork 0

Tulsa (Okla.) Victory Christian 41, Shiloh Christian 27

This Week’s Games

Berryville at Shiloh Christian

Pea Ridge at Gentry

Gravette at Lincoln

Huntsville at Prairie Grove

All kickoffs 7 p.m.

Chip Souza

Chip Souza

Sports Editor at NWA Media
Chip Souza is the sports editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. His primary beat is Benton County schools. He is a native of East Texas with more than 30 years of sports writing experience in Texas and Arkansas. He has earned numerous writing awards in both states.
Chip Souza

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