Archive | September, 2013

The Greenwood Conundrum

7 Sep

Greenwod down on the 10 yard line against Sallisaw

Over the course of the last 19 years we have witnessed Greenwood go from just another team in Sebastian County to THE team in Sebastian County. Coach Ronnie Peacock started laying the foundation to what is almost expected of Greenwood, year in and year out. When Booneville refused to ever schedule Greenwood, because “They absolutely changed the game” then Booneville Coach Ken Rippy said, that forshadowed what would come nearly two decades later.

The 2013 edition of the Greenwood Bulldogs are riding a 39 game winning streak (after last nights 49-3 win over Sallisaw, Okla), with the win streak comes an aura around the team. Where once again teams locally do not want to play Greenwood. This was a similar situation that Shiloh Christian (Springdale) faced when current Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn, was Head Coach.

In the late 90’s to early 00’s Shiloh would have to play teams in the class above to have a conference schedule, due to the talent being that much more than the schools of similar size in Northwest Arkansas. As a direct result of that, the Arkansas Activities Association (Governing body over the Arkansas high school atheletics) devised the “enrollment multiplier” for private schools. While it helped teams like Shiloh and Pulaski Academy (Little Rock), it harmed teams like Union Christian (Fort Smith).

This is were Greenwood comes into play. In 2012, Greenwood moved up in classification due to increased enrollment. The move was long rumored as early as 1997, but Greenwood always fell just outside the Top 32 schools in enrollment. Now playing in the 6A Central, it was expected that the Bulldogs would have a tougher time. While the 5A West was not always easy, Greenwood found a way to be the powerhouse team year after year. Teams like Conway, Fort Smith Nothside & Southside, and several Little Rock schools stood in the way of Greenwood repeating the success that they acheived in the 5A.

At the end of the 2012 season an all too familiar team was once again holding the State Championship trophy for the 7th time in 9 tries. The path throught the playoffs wasn’t an easy one for the Bulldogs, facing defending 6A state champion El Dorado and the legendary program from Pine Bluf in the finals. Yet the Bulldogs found a way to win.

The 2013 season is still in it’s infancy, and Greenwood is projected to make another run at the 6A state championship. The thing that baffles me is even with 39 straight victories, National High School coach of the year (Rick Jones), 7 state championships, 6 of those coming in the last 9 years. Greenwood is sitting at 206 in the USA Today, and 257 in the Max Preps National Rankings. Well it used to baffle me until I looked deeper. The strength of schedule, just like in the BCS rankings is what is holding Greenwood back from taking that next step.

I understand the reasoning behind the somewhat conservative schedule. Location of quality opponet being the biggest. I also understand the issue of not wanting to schedule a much larger school. I mean, no one wants to run the risk of having a very lopsided loss. But, I also see this as prime time for Greenwood to schedule those games and prove their worth to state and the nation. So, this leaves Greenwood in a conundrum. Schedule the games and run the risk or schedule them and fight for the wins and respect.

Keep in mind I’m not saying Greenwood should pick up a Jenks, Tulsa Union, or a Kansas City Rockhurst. But, an all 7A non conference schedule against Northside, Southside, and a Northwest Arkansas team like Fayetteville or Bentonville would go a long way. Greenwood used to play Springdale Har-Ber and Bentonville for non-conference action. Why not restart that series?

The conference re-alignments for the 2014 season. Which by the way, Thanks Fort Smith Public Schools, there’s some tissue in the mail for ya for all those tears you shed about having to drive to Little Rock for games and getting less at the gate. I mean sending the most Northwest Arkansas school (Siloam Springs) to plays games in Little Rock made a ton of sense. Just couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you. Back to the conference re-alignments, they almost gurantee Greenwood a Northside-Southside non-conference game.

Now, time to find an out of state school of similar size and success to take on and bust into the National Top 25 like a one loss Bentonville.