Photo: Richey Miller, clearchoicephoto.com
As far as the regular season goes, winner takes it all Friday night when the Fayetteville Bulldogs play host to the Bentonville Tigers at 7:30 p.m. at Harmon Stadium.
Daryl Patton’s Bulldogs and Barry Lunney’s Tigers will move on to post-season play regardless of the outcome, and no doubt winning the state championship is the ultimate season goal for both programs. However, for a regular-season game, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.
Fayetteville (8-1, 5-1) vs. Bentonville (7-2, 6-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8
Location: Harmon Stadium, Fayetteville
Barry Lunney’s Tigers have already earned a share of the 7A/6A-West title by rolling through league play undefeated with one game remaining, and with a win on Friday, Bentonville would be the outright 7A/6A-West champion.
However, a Fayetteville victory would not only give the Bulldogs a share of the title but also hand them the conference’s top seed in the playoffs, which comes with a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
With a loss, Bentonville would take the West’s No. 2 seed and also receive a first-round bye.
If the Bulldogs lose, Fayetteville could tie for second place in the 7A/6A West or hold the second place spot all to themselves, depending on the outcome of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Springdale-Har-Ber contest at Jarrell Williams Bulldog Stadium.
If Fayetteville loses to Bentonville and Har-Ber defeats Springdale, the Bulldogs and Wildcats would tie for second place in league play, but Har-Ber would receive the league’s second-place seed in the playoffs and the first round bye, by virtue of their 27-24 overtime victory over Fayetteville last week.
The combination of a Fayetteville loss and a Har-Ber loss, would leave the Bulldogs in second place by themselves with a first-round bye in the playoffs.
So this Friday, the Fayetteville faithful should not only be pulling for their Purple Bulldogs, but also the Red Bulldogs of Springdale.
The past two seasons in the playoffs, Fayetteville have been road warriors, battling their way to consecutive state titles without the benefit of playing at home, and should that be the case again this season, Patton and his Bulldogs would embrace that route to Little Rock and the state title.
But home-field advantage and a first-round bye would no doubt be a huge leg up for Fayetteville in its quest for a third straight state title.
And while Patton has downplayed the importance of winning a conference championship to keep the pressure off his squad all season, winning the 7A/6A-West title is the next best thing and possibly even a more difficult task.
The last time Fayetteville hosted Bentonville, Tiger fans filled up the visitor’s side of Harmon Stadium and a good portion of Fayetteville’s side. It would great sign of support for the Bulldogs, if there were more Purple than Black in the stands Friday night.
Either way, expect the Bulldogs to close out the regular season with their best performance to date. Fayetteville has improved week to week, and there is no reason that would change this Friday.
7A/6A West Standings
Bentonville – 6-0, 7-2
Fayetteville – 5-1, 8-1
Har-Ber – 4-2, 6-3
Rogers – 3-3, 6-3
Heritage – 3-3, 5-4
Springdale – 3-3, 5-4
Siloam Springs – 0-6, 1-7-1
Van Buren – 0-6, 1-8
2013 FHS Football Schedule
Sept. 2 – Fayetteville 35, Warren 21 at Razorback Stadium
Sept. 13 – Fayetteville 34, Jeff City 24
Sept. 20 – Fayetteville 27, Muskogee 22 at Muskogee
Sept. 27 – Fayetteville 45, Van Buren 21 at Van Buren
Oct. 4 – Fayetteville 38, Springdale 14
Oct. 11 – Fayetteville 28, Heritage 27
Oct. 18 – Fayetteville 35, Rogers 14
Oct. 25 – Fayetteville 35, Siloam Springs 14
Nov. 1 – Har-Ber 27, Fayetteville 24, OT
Nov. 8 – Bentonville, 7:30 p.m.