Conway, CCS Eagles prepare for second round of playoffs

by Levi Gilbert

Thirty-five 501 teams have been brutally trimmed down to 20. It must be the second week of the high school football playoffs.

While no two 501 teams faced off against each other in the first week of the playoffs, the second round features a few 501 matchups: Little Rock Central at Cabot, North Little Rock at Bryant, Morrilton at Pulaski Academy and Maumelle at Lonoke.

And a few 501 teams, such as Conway, didn’t even play in the first round; they are coming fresh off of a bye and are set to host Springdale Har-Ber.

“When you have a bye, you can’t lose, but you do lose that normalcy,” said Jeff Matthews, play-by-play announcer for Conway on Conway Corporation. “Har-Ber is good. These teams from Northwest Arkansas are big, they’re fast, they are well coached. They are big and fast on defense. But our offensive line is big and fast. If you like that style of football where you’re watching the line of scrimmage, Friday night is going to be as good as it gets.

“Our guys are going to have to be aggressive on defense, which is something they’ve done very well this year. This Har-Ber team almost lost to Catholic last Friday night, a team that Conway played down to the last minute the week before. I think that will be good tape for them to watch. We have to be aggressive and force the issue. If we do that, I think we’ll be in a good spot.”

Conway could be primed for a deep playoff run if they can get past the second round.

“I think that it could be the year they go further in the playoffs,” Matthews said. “There’s a certain amount of confidence. This team still has a lot of youth. There’s a lot of hope and excitement. It will be hard to get over that hump.

“These teams from Northwest Arkansas are ready to go from the snap. I think there’s some optimism in town. This is a fun time of year. The other side of the bracket has teams from Central Arkansas, which guarantees that there will be at least one team from Central Arkansas in the championship game this year.”

The Conway Christian Eagles are still flying high after a road win at Walnut Ridge. Carlisle will attempt to ground the Eagles this Friday.

“You’ve got to be impressed with Carlisle,” said John David Smith, play-by-play announcer for the Eagles on “For a 2A team, they are pretty big. They’re backs are what impress you. They have a 240-pound running back that is hard to get down. They run that double wing set, and they are a load to bring down.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for the Eagles on defense because the Eagles are always going to be outweighed. We’re always going to have to execute better. Carlisle has lost one football game this year. They are an extremely formidable opponent.”

Second-round matchups with 501 teams across all classifications include:

Friday, Nov. 22, 2013

Class 7A
Quarterfinal Round
LR Central at Cabot
North Little Rock at Bryant
FS Southside at Bentonville
Springdale Har-Ber at Conway
Class 6A
Quarterfinal Round
Benton at El Dorado
Lake Hamilton at Jonesboro
LR Parkview at Greenwood
Siloam Springs at Pine Bluff
Class 5A
Quarterfinal Round
Mills University Studies at Alma
Camden Fairview at Batesville
Wynne at Hope
Morrilton at Pulaski Academy
Class 4A
Quarterfinal Round
Dardanelle at Warren
Newport at Arkadelphia
Valley View at Prairie Grove
Maumelle at Lonoke
Star City at Gosnell
Ashdown at Dollarway
Hamburg at Booneville
Lincoln at Malvern
Class 3A
Quarterfinal Round
Atkins at Harding Academy
McGehee at Charleston
Barton at Hoxie
Earle at Fordyce
Lavaca at Glen Rose
Two Rivers at Green Forest
Melbourne at Smackover
Prescott at Episcopal Collegiate
Class 2A
Quarterfinal Round
Brinkley at Des Arc
Strong at Dierks
Hazen at East Poinsett County
Mount Ida at Bearden
Gurdon at Junction City
England at Hector
Rison at Magnet Cove
Conway Christian at Carlisle

All games will start at 7 p.m.