Bryant Hornet High

Is there anyone in Arkansas who can stop this juggernaut? I know Parkview gave them all they wanted a couple of weeks ago. But who’s going to stop them from hornet hoppin all the way to another state title? FWIW, I’m not a fan of this 7-A classification. So you’re the champion of 16 teams. Big whoop.

Fayetteville came close in the championship game last year. Bryant scored the game winner with about two minutes left. Fayetteville committed five turnovers, had a field goal blocked and Bryant scored two non-offensive touchdowns. They found a way to win, which is a credit to them, but I don’t know if they were the more talented team.

They have become a juggernaut under Buck James, though. There aren’t many in the 7A that are going to compete with them.

The classification system in Arkansas is broken, but it’s not going to change. Competitiveness aside, I dislike it because there are too many schools that have to play conference games three and four hours away. It’s not as big of a deal for football because those games are on Fridays, but there are athletes in other sports having to make those round trips on Tuesday nights and be back in school Wednesday morning.

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Buck James has won everywhere he’s gone. He’s an old school coach who’s very demanding.

Not sure what the numbers are at Bryant, but when I visited for a practice before the Salt Bowl, they looked to have 80-100 kids out.

The QB Jordan Walker is a sophomore and that bodes well for the future. He should get some college looks.

Matt I couldn’t agree more. Some of these districts are waaay to spread out. With fewer classifications, you could have districts that made more sense geographically and cut down on travel distances. Or they could do like Missouri and not require teams to play a district schedule. Things could be worse. In South Dakota, almost all the large qualification schools are either in Sioux Falls or Rapid City. Talk about a bus ride!

Mountain Home to Greenwood isn’t much better.

Yeah nothing like navigating mountain roads in a school bus at night.

They have found a way to get blacks out for football (and basketball).

Before James, they were as lily white as Cabot.

It’s a shame they don’t play PA.

The reason the classifications are set up like that is enrollment. Greenbrier is the smallest public school in 6A according to AAA enrollment figures. Cabot is the largest school in the state. Cabot has three times the enrollment of Greenbrier. The chance of the GHS Panthers winning a state (or conference) title over the CHS Panthers, or North Little Rock, or Bryant, is pretty remote. Of course, PA, Catholic and Little Rock Christian are smaller, but we know why they’ve been moved up.

I looked at the 35 schools in 6A and 7A.

There are 8 in Benton and Washington counties. Four in the Fort Smith area so 12 in the I-49 corridor.

Russellville, Conway, Greenbrier, Cabot in what can be loosely described as the I-40 West corridor.

Pulaski County: Central, Catholic, NLR, Jacksonville, Sylvan Hills, PA, LR Christian, LR Southwest.

South central Ark (loosely): Bryant, Benton, HS Lakeside, Sheridan, Pine Bluff.

South Arkansas: El Dorado.

North/Northeast: Mountain Home, Jonesboro, West Memphis, Marion, Greene County Tech, Searcy.

So how do you distribute those into conferences? El Dorado’s closest road trip is going to be Sheridan no matter what.

Here in NC where I live, some of the conferences are a combination of 3A and 4A, 4A being the big schools. The conference for schools in and around Wilmington, for instance, has 5 4A schools and 3 3A schools. I have no idea how they separate them for playoffs. Apparently they used to have two different playoff brackets for each class, similar to what Texas does in the larger classes, but went back to a single bracket in 2021.

If you don’t care about giving the smaller schools a chance, I guess you could have two conferences in NWA/Sebastian County, one north/northeast conference, one south conference and two for Pulaski County and environs, and add one more school to get an even 36 (next on the enrollment list is Hot Springs Lakeside). But that leaves five nonconference games you have to schedule somewhere; either play somebody smaller in your area or bus to play another big school.

Or come up with some hybrid like North Carolina, where the focus was clearly on grouping schools geographically. Best I can tell, the longest bus ride in the Wilmington-area league is 60 miles.

In Missouri, conference is not synonymous with district. The conferences are made up of schools with sometimes significantly different enrollments, but are geographically proximate. Districts come into play in the playoffs. All teams in a district will be in the same classification. It’s a good system that eliminates a lot of regular season long bus rides, but also pits teams of similar enrollment in the post season.

Okay if you do the playoffs by district in Misery but some of them don’t play each other during the season, how do they decide who gets in? Or does everyone get in?

Everyone gets in. Coaches vote on seeding. The 1vs8 games are usually pretty brutal.

NC playoffs are 64 teams in 4A and 64 in 3A, so I guess they let everyone in too. May also explain why the season started August 19, to allow time for six rounds of playoff games before Christmas. The state title games were Dec. 10-11 last year.

Missouri Class 3. Eight 6 or 7 team districts. First round byes for all top seeds and a few others. A little bit more manageable. I think that works out to 4 playoff games for the likely finalists.

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