A week ago, Bentonville was left without a season-opening opponent.

The Tigers were scheduled to play Liberty (Mo.) North tonight, but Liberty North was not able to make the trip to Arkansas after its conference in Missouri said its teams could not travel out of state.

That left Bentonville Coach Jody Grant trying to search for a third nonconference game for his team.

Bentonville was able to find an opponent and the Tigers will travel to Shawnee, Kan., on Sept. 18 to face Mill Valley. The Tigers made the announcement Wednesday night.

Mill Valley was going to face Shawnee Mission East, but that game was canceled after the Shawnee Mission School District suspended fall athletics because of the spread of covid-19.

Once Liberty North was off the schedule, the Tigers moved quickly and found Mill Valley.

“It fell in our lap,” Grant said.

Mill Valley finished 11-3 in 2019 and won the Kansas Class 5A state championship, defeating Wichita Northwest.

It’s been an unusual offseason for teams across the state since covid-19 halted in-person workouts in March. Teams were able to return to meet together June 1 and fall practice began Aug. 3.

Grant is staying focused on the present.

“Right now, we’re taking it a week at a time,” Grant said. “It’s day to day. You just roll with the punches.”

Bentonville is the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s preseason No. 3 team in Class 7A behind Bryant and North Little Rock. The Tigers won the 7A-West Conference championship last season, but lost its first and only game to North Little Rock in the semifinals.

The Tigers’ season will begin Sept. 4 at Conway, then hosts Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst on Sept. 11.


Helping out

Joe T. Robinson is lending a hand to its season-opening opponent.

Administrators from Robinson, including football coach Todd Eskola, will be at Pulaski Academy’s Joe B. Hatcher Stadium this morning to help the Bruins’ staff with getting the venue ready for tonight’s game.

Joe B. Hatcher Stadium, as with all high school football stadiums, must adhere to the Arkansas Department of Health covid-19 guidelines for large outdoor venues.

At Pulaski Academy, every other row is taped off and attendance is limited. About 600 tickets were available for Pulaski Academy parents and fans, while 250 were available for Robinson. Robinson’s tickets sold out Monday and PA’s tickets have also sold out. No tickets were set to available at the gate tonight, regardless of the amount of tickets that were sold earlier this week.

“It’s two schools working together to help put the game on for the kids,” Eskola said.

The game features two Democrat-Gazette preseason No. 1 teams. Pulaski Academy is the top team in Class 5A entering the season, while Robinson is No. 1 in Class 4A. Both the Bruins and Senators won state championships last season at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Today’s game was originally scheduled for Thursday night. But the Pulaski County Special School District announced Wednesday night that it was going to dismiss high schools in the district at 1 p.m. Thursday. Early dismissals or cancellation of classes in the PCSSD mean that there are no extracurricular activities, including sports, after school.

KARZ-TV will air the game live along with FearlessFriday.com and Pulaski Academy’s PA Bruin TV livestream at pabruins.tv or on YouTube.

It is the first meeting between Robinson and Pulaski Academy since 2011 when both teams were members of the 4A-7 Conference.


Meet in the middle

Harrison and Magnolia are playing tonight in Little Rock.

No, it’s not the Class 5A state championship game, but a regular-season game at Little Rock Christian’s Warrior Field.

With Little Rock Christian playing at Little Rock Central tonight, the stadium was available for a game.

During the offseason, Harrison Coach Joel Wells was looking for a nonconference game. He found Harrison and then talked with Panthers Coach Mark King about playing each other in 2020 and 2021.

However, with Harrison located in north central Arkansas near the Missouri border and Magnolia in south Arkansas, both Wells and King believed that if they could find a place in Central Arkansas for the game, that it could be scheduled. They both agreed on Little Rock Christian and the 2021 game is scheduled to be played in Conway.

Wells and the Goblins have played at Little Rock Christian before. Harrison played at Little Rock Christian in 2017, which was Wells’ third season with the Goblins.

“It will be a neat deal for us,” Wells said. “Magnolia and us, we’re going to meet halfway. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

Even though the Goblins aren’t traveling to south Arkansas, it’s still a three-hour trip to Little Rock. But that’s not an issue for the Goblins, who play in the 5A-West Conference.

“We have a lot of two-hour trips, sometimes three hours,” Wells said.

Harrison went 11-1 last season and won the 5A-West Conference, but lost to Pulaski Academy in the Class 5A second round. The Goblins are the Democrat-Gazette’s preseason No. 5 team in Class 5A.


Harding Academy has scheduled Mena to fill the remainder of its 2020 schedule. The game is set for Sept. 4 in Mena. Harding Academy had to cancel its season opener at Bald Knob, which was to be played tonight, because of eight football players testing positive for covid-19. … The Arkansas Activities Association announced this week that its new digital content partner is Scorebook Live. SBLive Sports, along with the AAA mobile app that is expected to be released later this year, will be the official AAA source for all AAA scores, schedules, statistics, tournament brackets, gamecasts, live scoring and more beginning with the 2020-21 school year. The website is at arkansas.scorebooklive.com. … Parkers Chapel will host Glenbrook High School from Minden, La., at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Glenbrook, but Parkers Chapel Coach Elliot Jacobs said that Glenbrook couldn’t get approval from the state of Louisiana to host the game because of covid-19.

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