The Bentonville Tigers and Conway Wampus Cats are both coming into the game on Friday with serious momentum. For Bentonville, the Tigers were able to roll past Midwest City last week, 54-21. The Wampus Cats were able to defeat El Dorado in a close game 37-27. With both teams gaining victories last week, it sets the stage for a big early season matchup this Friday.
Bentonville was able to establish the running game against Midwest City. Preston Crawford rushed for four touchdowns and helped the Tigers ease past the Bombers. The Tigers' running game was not just limited to Crawford, quarterback Andrew Edwards was able to use his wheels and punch the ball in the end zone as well. Bentonville will look to keep the running game strong and mix in the passing game this Friday.
The Wampus Cats were effective on the ground last week as well. Conway rushed for over 280 yards and was able to defeat a scrappy El Dorado team 37-27. Manny Smith and Jamaal Bethune both rushed for over 100 yards and each found the end zone. Conway mixed in an impressive passing game with Eli Shepherd passing for 295 yards. The Wampus Cats will look to keep the mix of the run and the pass to keep Bentonville off-balance.
Both defenses will look to stifle the opposing offenses. Each team is talented and this is a game that should be tight into the fourth quarter. Look for Bentonville to pull away and win 28-24.
The Conway and El Dorado matchup was one of the best in the state last season. The Wampus Cats won in double overtime over El Dorado 48-41. The victory over El Dorado helped set the stage for Conway going 9-3 last season and a nice run in the state playoffs. Meanwhile, the Wildcats were able to rebound and finished with a playoff appearance as well but with just a 5-6 record on the season.
El Dorado will open the season with a new coach on the sidelines. Steven Jones comes to El Dorado from Junction City. El Dorado is going to very dynamic on the offensive side of the ball with Alex Hicks shifting over to running back from the quarterback position. Hicks topped the century mark in five games last season and should surpass those totals in 2019. El Dorado fans should look for Steven Tollette to use his quickness and route running to catch passes. The Wildcats should be able to test the Wampus Cats' defense with a mix of the run and the pass.
The Wampus Cats have experience returning at the quarterback position in the form of Nick McCuin. McCuin has the respect of his teammates and is an accurate passer. McCuin has a talented receiving corps that he can distribute the ball to. Shane Smith makes plays in the passing game and the return game for the Wampus Cats. Smith had three kickoff returns for touchdowns last season and El Dorado would be smart to kick away from him.
Both Conway and El Dorado fans would like the defenses to force more three and outs in this game than what happened last season. El Dorado has Quentin Frazier who has been a mainstay on the defensive line for the Wildcats. Frazier can rush the pass effectively, but he also does a good job of shutting down the running game. Meanwhile, the player to watch on the defensive side of the ball for the Wampus Cats is linebacker Reed Hughes. Hughes had a terrific season in 2018 and is looking to continue his solid play this season.
The Conway-El Dorado game was a classic last season and fans should see a repeat of it this season. Observers should look for another close game this season with the Wampus Cats scoring late to win the game 27-24.