Shiloh, Prairie Grove out in new conference alignment

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Life in the 4A-1 high school football conference might be a little easier next fall, but both Berryville coach Bryan Hutson nor Green Forest coach Greg Tibbitt say the conference schedule will still be a challenge.

The Arkansas Activities Association announced the 2022-24 football classifications for its member schools last week. In the 4A-1, both longtime conference powerhouses Shiloh Christian and Prairie Grove will be moving to 5A. Taking their place in the 4A-1 will be Ozark and Lincoln.

Prairie Grove’s move to Class 5A is based on that school district’s rising enrollment figures. Shiloh Christian, a Springdale-based private school, was moved up one class based on the AAA’s “competitive equity factor,” a new formula that is used to determine athletic classification for private schools based on their on-field performance over the past several years. Shiloh Christian has won seven state football championships and reached the Class 4A state final again this year before losing to Pulaski Robinson. The Saints won the 4A-1 title, with Prairie Grove finishing second.

Ozark finished 8-3 last season and went undefeated in conference play to win the 4A-4 title. The Hillbillies have won 47 games over the past five seasons.

Lincoln was 3-8 last season.

“We’re losing two really good teams to 5A,” Hutson said. “Ozark and Lincoln are coming in. Ozark has been a perennial power in the conference they’ve been in, so adding them keeps the conference pretty salty. This is the first year their junior high hasn’t won the conference in five or six years, so they’ve got a machine going down there.”

As a former defensive coordinator at Mena, Tibbitt said he’s well aware of Ozark’s success.

“Ozark is a really good program,” he said. “They do a really good job. Honestly, I feel like you just exchange them for Prairie Grove. It’s a similar type of physical team, really well-coached.”

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