To help you count down the days until football season arrives, the 5NEWS Sports crew has put together 11 different countdowns looking at players, coaches and games to be looking forward to this fall.
On Sunday night, we introduced you to some of the top targeted teams in our area who are most likely to be the ones fighting for a state championship at War Memorial.
#5: Shiloh Christian Saints
Shiloh Christian is consistently a force in the 4A-1 – and proved it last year winning 12 games and the conference championship, along with mercy ruling every team in the 4A-1. 22 seniors comes back on the already dominant team, including QB Eli Reece who threw for more than 2,600 yards last year. Truitt Tollett also is back for another year after racking up nearly 1,200 yards and 13 TDs as a receiver. After winning seven titles in the past 22 years, this may be the year to bring the trophy back to Shiloh for the first time since 2010.
#4: Bentonville Tigers
Winning is just in Bentonville’s DNA. The Tigers have taken home six of the past seven conference titles in the 7A-West, but nobody on the roster has ever taken home a state championship. All-state running back Preston Crawford will likely shine on offense, while his brother Chris Crawford brings a threat to end on defense. Now, the Tigers just have to prove they can go all the way.
#3: Fayetteville Bulldogs
Fayetteville brings in a new head man in Casey Dick, who most recently coached at Van Buren. The Purple Dogs face a good problem to have with two of the top quarterbacks in the area battling it out for the QB1 slot. Whoever starts between Hank Gibbs and Quinn McClain will likely be one of the biggest threats in the 7A. Top that off with all-state receiver Connor Flannigan who set six school records last year – including nearly 1,700 yards on 102 receptions and 20 touchdowns – and you may see Fayetteville at War Memorial late this year.
#2: Booneville Bearcats
Just one team in the entire state finished undefeated last year, and now the Booneville Bearcats are on a hunt to do it again. Evan Schlinker is back as the signal caller, who had a school record 14 touchdowns last season. Andrew Robertson at halfback rounds out a scary offense, while Cort Mizell and Cam Brasher will likely be leaders on the defense – all on the hunt to go back-to-back.
#1: Greenwood Bulldogs
Greenwood is the 5NEWS Sports team’s top title contender heading into the 2019 season. The Bulldogs haven’t lost a conference game since 2014, and have won three state titles in the past seven years. Rick Jones built Greenwood on a culture of winning, and any time he’s at the head, you’re sure to see the Bulldogs being a dangerous force in every game they play – as the team looks to make it three in a row.