Bearcats face three schools from higher classifications. Tigers see three playoff teams.
When the Booneville Bearcats and Dardanelle Sand Lizards meet tomorrow night for a scrimmage at Bearcat Stadium, it’s a given there will be multiple area coaches on hand to get an early look at the former Conference 4A-4 opponents.
Interested in both, no doubt, will be Charleston Tiger brass.
Charleston and Booneville don’t meet until Week 8 — Oct. 19 — but the Tigers have a nonconference date with Sand Lizards, who finished 2017 8-4 and is picked 3rd in the 4A-4 this year, on Aug. 31.
That is the middle of the three playoff teams Charleston will face before the conference season begins on Sept. 21. The Tigers get Melbourne (9-3) in the opener in a game to be played at Hendrix and Ozark (9-3) after a week two open date. Combined, the three have a 26-10 record making the trio the most difficult among Conference 3A-1 schools.
Melbourne is picked 2nd in the 3A-2, Ozark is picked 1st in the 4A-4.
While Mansfield will also face three playoff teams in nonconference play, their combined record was 15-17 and two of the teams are from Class 2A so any debate for who has the second most difficult nonconference slate is between Booneville and Greenland.
Both the Bearcats and Pirates will see two teams who made the postseason in 2017. Booneville opens with Clarksville, whose 1-9 mark from 2017 skews the overall record of its three opponents to 16-17.
However, the Bearcats are the one league team to face three schools from bigger classifications as the Class 5A Panthers are followed by Ozark (9-3) and Pottsville (6-5), both from Class 4A.
Clarksville is picked 6th in the 5A West, Ozark is picked to win the 4A-4 and Pottsville is the 2nd choice giving Booneville the nod as more difficult.
Greenland’s three opponents of Elkins, Mountainburg and Gentry were a combined 23-11 with now 4A Elkins, and 2A Mountainburg both winning nine times. Elkins is picked 6th in the 4A-4, Mountainnburg 2nd in the 2A-4 and Gentry sixth in the 4A-1.
None of the other league schools face teams who had a combined winning record though Mansfield does have the playoff teams of Hackett, 6-4 and picked 2nd in the 2A-4, Waldron 5-6 and picked 5th in the 4A-4, and Lavaca 4-7 and picked fourth in the 2A-4.
Paris plays two playoff teams in Perryville, 7-4 and picked 5th in the 3A-4, Clarksville, 1-9 and picked 6th in the 5A West, and Waldron, 5-6 and picked 5th in the 4A-4.
Cedarville and West Fork will see one playoff team from last year but for West Fork it is now-4A Elkins to go along with one win teams Berryville and Green Forest and for Cedarville it is 2A Mountainburg along with 2A Johnson County Westside (3-6) and Bigelow (1-9).
That leaves Lamar, whose first three games saw teams who were a combined 10-19 with half of those wins coming from 4A Dover (5-5) before games with Subiaco (2-8) and Johnson County Westside (3-6).
Conference 3A-1 also has five schools taking advantage of the so-called Zero Week in Booneville, Cedarville, Charleston, Mansfield and Paris. All of them except Charleston are open on Week 3 meaning half of the league will have a break before going into conference play. Charleston’s open date is Week 2.