501 Life Magazine | 501 Football playoffs preview
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501 Football playoffs preview

Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker presents the First Service Bank Cup to the Greenbrier High School Football Team following its win over Vilonia. Greenbrier will be playing at Little Rock Christian on Friday, in the first round of the 5A playoffs. (Bill Patterson photo)

This Friday kicks off the opening round of the football playoffs across all classifications. Twenty-nine 501 schools have punched their tickets to the playoffs with the same goal in mind — reach War Memorial in December. 

In the 7A, North Little Rock (10-0) and Bryant (8-2) earned first-round byes after finishing first and second, respectively, in the 7A Central. Conway (8-2), the No. 3 seed in the 7A Central, plays host to Rogers. Catholic (5-5) travels to Fayetteville.  

“It’s straight up déjà vu for Conway fans,” said Levi Gilbert, 501 LIFE associate editor and Wampus Cat color commentary announcer for Conway Corp 5 Sports. “Just like last year, they are the No. 3 seed out of the Central, they host Rogers and a win will send them to Bentonville West. This is the same script as last year, but this is a very different Conway team. I’m excited for first-year head coach Keith Fimple and this resilient team. They could very well be playing on Black Friday again this year.”

In the 6A, Searcy (8-2), Lake Hamilton (5-5) and Benton (8-2) are all back in the playoffs. Benton has a first-round bye. 

The 5A is loaded and top heavy again this year in the playoffs. Pulaski Academy hosts Alma, and Little Rock Christian hosts Greenbrier. Parkview is at Morrilton. The Devil Dogs climbed up into the No. 2 seed out of the 5A West, and highly recruited junior quarterback Jacolby Criswell returned early from injury, playing the last few weeks of the regular season and priming Morrilton for a potential deep playoff run. Hot Springs Lakeside travels to Blytheville, and McClellan hosts Valley View. 

In the 4A, several teams are back in the playoffs after a hiatus. After finishing 1-9 in 2017, the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs bounced back, earning the fifth seed out of the 2-4A. Fountain Lake is also back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, and Bauxite is back for the first time since 2009. Lonoke, Robinson and Heber Springs all host this week. 

In the 3A, Glen Rose (9-1) has earned a first-round bye. Mayflower (9-1) plays host to Dollarway. The Eagles are averaging 45.6 points per game and only allowing 13.9 points per contest. Clinton (10-0), the first seed out of the 2-3A, opens at home with Charleston. 

In the 2A, all of the 501 teams are from the same conference, the 5-2A. Conway Christian (8-2) earned the top seed and plays host to Lavaca. Mountain Pine (7-3) hosts Hackett, and England hosts Earle. Magnet Cove and Quitman both hit the road. 

The full slate of playoff matchups containing 501* teams:

7A

  • NORTH LITTLE ROCK (bye)
  • Rogers at CONWAY
  • BRYANT (bye)
  • CATHOLIC at Fayetteville

6A

  • Siloam Springs at SEARCY
  • BENTON (bye)
  • LAKE HAMILTON at Jonesboro

5A

  • LAKESIDE at Blytheville
  • PARKVIEW at MORRILTON
  • GREENBRIER at LR CHRISTIAN
  • Alma at PULASKI ACADEMY
  • Valley View at MCCLELLAN

4A

  • Prairie Grove at LONOKE
  • Pottsville at ROBINSON
  • FOUNTAIN LAKE at Rivercrest
  • Pocahontas at HEBER SPRINGS
  • BAUXITE at Trumann
  • CAC at Warren

3A

  • Dollarway at MAYFLOWER
  • Greenland at HARDING ACADEMY
  • GLEN ROSE (bye)
  • BAPTIST PREP at Booneville
  • Charleston at CLINTON

2A

  • Earle at ENGLAND
  • Hackett at MOUNTAIN PINE
  • MAGNET COVE at Des Arc
  • Lavaca at CONWAY CHRISTIAN
  • QUITMAN at Hazen

*501 teams listed in bold and all caps.