Abshier offers players history lesson
By winning at Lincoln on Friday, Prairie Grove has a chance to do something it hasn’t done since 2001: Finish 10-0 in the regular season.
That 2001 squad is the only Tigers’ squad to accomplish the feat, but the season soured when it lost 13-8 against a .500 Ozark team in the first round of the program’s first trip to the playoffs.
“Joe Murray and that bunch got beat after going 10-0,” Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier said. “Ozark was 5-5 and out of the five teams that beat them, those teams had lost just five games all season put together.”
Abshier is reminding of his players of that season this week so they don’t get complacent heading into what appears to be an easy win against the 3-6 Wolves, who can punch a ticket to the playoffs with an upset.
“It’s been brought up and it will be again,” Abshier said, referring to the demise of the 2001 team. “Anyone can win on any given Friday and anyone can lose on any given Friday.
“We just want to make sure we come out of there with a win this Friday.”
Before the season, Abshier wasn’t expecting his team to run through the regular season with a perfect record. He figured the Tigers’ would make the playoffs, but wasn’t sure how it all would play out.
In other words, he’s been pleasantly surprised.
“You never can tell how good or bad you’re going to be,” Abshier said. “I don’t expect anybody else expected us to do this. Now, did we expect it? I thought we’d make the playoffs and thought we were at least one of the top three teams in the conference, but we’ve got a lot of guys who do their job and make things happen and make plays.”
— MIKE CAPSHAW • @NWACappy
Saints hope they’re peaking at right time
Since losing 45-15 to Prairie Grove in Week 6, Shiloh Christain appears to be playing its best football of the season.
The Saints (8-1, 5-1) have outscored its past three opponents by a combined score of 122-7, including a 36-7 win against Gentry and back-to-back shutouts against Lincoln (49-0) and Gravette (37-0).
“I hope we’re peaking at the right time,” said Saints’ coach Jeff Conaway. “That’s been one of our goals: we want to be playing very good football right now. That separates the good teams from the great teams.
“I don’t know if we’re great yet, but we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.”
Conaway should have a better idea beginning this week when the Saints’ battle Pea Ridge (8-1, 5-1) for the No. 2 seed in next week’s Class 4A playoffs. The Blackhawks’ lone loss also came against Prairie Grove (42-21) and they have outscored opponents 84-12 since that Week 7 setback.
“They are a very talented and very good football team,” Conaway said. “They’ve been beating people really badly, so it’s (been) an interesting week of preparation for us.”
— MIKE CAPSHAW • @NWACappy
First-year coach well aware of ‘huge game’
No one has to remind Pea Ridge coach Stephen Neal about the importance of Friday’s matchup between Pea Ridge and Shiloh Christian.
The Blackhawks’ first-year coach already knows.
“The one thing I’ve heard over and over since I got this job is the Shiloh Christian game,” Neal said. “Pea Ridge has beaten Shiloh the last couple of years, and I’ll know they’ll want to come and beat us at our place.
“It’s a huge game and our kids and our community will be ready for it.”
The winner will earn the No. 2 seed and the loser the No. 3 seed from the 4A-1 Conference, where unbeaten Prairie Grove is the leader.
Pea Ridge likely needs to play a more complete game against Shiloh Christian than it did last week at Huntsville to gain the No. 2 spot. The Blackhawks struggled with penalties and turnovers in the first half, but still led 11-6.
Pea Ridge then blew the game open with its running game and won 39-6 over the Eagles. Drew Winn and Zaine Holley each rushed for over 100 yards to lead Pea Ridge, which beat Shiloh Christian 24-21 last season and 42-16 in 2014.
— RICK FIRES • @NWARick
Win, and the Eagles are in
There’s nothing complicated about Huntsville’s challenge at Berryville Friday.
Win the game, and the Eagles are in the playoffs. Lose, and the season is over.
Huntsville (3-6, 2-4) showed promise last week before wearing down against Pea Ridge. The Eagles delivered several hard hits and intercepted a pass to set up a touchdown in the first half, when they trailed 8-6 late in the second quarter. Pea Ridge then outscored Huntsville 28-0 in the second half to win 39-6.
“Our kids played their hearts out,” Huntsville coach Randy Barnhill said. “We made some mistakes and they were able to capitalize.”
Huntsville needs to improve its passing game after completing only 1 of 10 passes last week against Pea Ridge. But Huntsville has an aggressive defense and a capable running game that should trouble Berryville (3-6, 1-5), which fell 49-6 at Prairie Grove last week.
— RICK FIRES • @NWARick
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