Bobcats, Tigers stay put in next reclassification

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

By Scott Loftis

The Arkansas Activities Association has approved high school football classifications and conferences for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, and the Berryville Bobcats and Green Forest Tigers seem to have caught a break.

Berryville and Green Forest will remain in the 4A-1 conference under the new classification, but longtime conference power Pea Ridge is moving up to Class 5A.

Lincoln also will leave the conference, dropping to Class 3A.

Replacing Pea Ridge and Lincoln in the 4A-1 will be Elkins and Huntsville.

Pea Ridge won 54 games from 2014 to 2018, including five victories over Berryville by a combined margin of 212-14. Berryville’s last victory over the Blackhawks came in 2013.

Green Forest also beat Pea Ridge in 2013, but the Blackhawks have won all four meetings with the Tigers since then by a combined 189-29.

“For us in football, it’s a pretty good deal,” Berryville coach Doug Shott said. “I’d be a fool if I didn’t think that was good for us. I think it’s favorable for us.”

Barring a change, Shott said the annual Carroll County Super Bowl game against Green Forest will likely remain the final regular-season game on the Bobcats’ schedule. The matchup is huge for both schools, conference alignments notwithstanding.

“It’s a rivalry regardless,” Shott said.

Shott coached the Bobcats to a 4-6 finish in 2018 — Berryville’s first four-win season since 2006. Meanwhile Green Forest went winless in conference play in its first season in Class 4A. The Tigers were 1-9 overall and scored just six points in seven conference games — all in a 43-6 loss to Berryville.

Green Forest coach Bobby Bishop isn’t a fan of the Tigers playing in Class 4A. Even with Pea Ridge leaving the 4A-1, it still looks like an uphill fight for the Tigers.

“That’s still going to be extremely difficult competition,” Bishop said.

The Arkansas Activities Association classifies its member schools every two years by three-year average daily membership (ADM) in grades 10-12. In football, the 16 schools with the highest ADM are placed in Class 7A, with the next 16 in Class 6A, followed by the next 32 in Class 5A, then 48 each in Class 4A and Class 3A. The next 48 largest schools and any remaining football-playing schools are placed in Class 2A.

In all other sports, Class 7A was eliminated for the 2018-2020 classification cycle. The 16 Class 7A football schools were assigned to Class 6A for other sports, with the 16 Class 6A football schools assigned to Class 5A. The 16 Class 5A football schools with the lowest ADM drop to Class 4A and so on.

Berryville competes in Class 4A in all sports, while Green Forest competes in Class 4A in football but Class 3A in all other sports.

For the 2018-2020 classification cycle, Berryville ranked 67th among all schools with an ADM of 486.67 — near the top of the Class 4A schools. Berryville’s ADM dropped to 441.33 for the 2020-2022 cycle but still ranked 73rd.

Green Forest had an ADM of 295 for the 2018-2020 cycle, No. 109 in the state and the fifth-lowest among schools assigned to Class 4A for football. For 2020-2022, Green Forest’s ADM of 300 ranks 106th among all Arkansas schools.

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