The 2020 Arkansas high school football season has arrived with games beginning Thursday night.
To kick off the season, SBLive takes a look at the five biggest storylines in the state.
Can Bryant three-peat in 7A?
Bryant has won the last two 7A titles in Arkansas and all signs are pointing to a Hornets’ three-peat in 2020. Bryant quarterback Austin Ledbetter threw 40 touchdown passes last season while leading the Hornets to a perfect 13-0 record. He’ll be tough to stop in 2020.
North Little Rock was the last non-Bryant team to win a 7A title. The Charging Wildcats fell to Bryant in last year’s championship game. Look for North Little Rock to be Bryant’s main competition again in 2020.
Bentonville, Bentonville West, Cabot, Central, Conway, Fayetteville, and Har-Ber are other teams that could make a run in 7A.
What will North Little Rock look like under new coach?
North Little Rock will begin the J.R. Eldridge era Sept. 4 against Har-Ber. Former North Little Rock head coach Jamie Mitchell resigned in January because he wanted to be closer to his grandchildren in Mississippi.
Eldridge led his former school, Arkadelphia, to back-to-back Class 4A state football championships in 2017 and 2018. He was hired at North Little Rock in April.
Will North Little Rock look like 7A title contenders in year one under Eldridge? Time will tell.
Will Parkview get the most out of its talent?
Parkview is loaded and 6A doesn’t have a clear favorite in 2020. Tight end Erin Outley and quarterback Landon Rogers are both senior Arkansas commits. James Jointer, a junior running back, is a national recruit. Parkview should put up a ton of points this season.
Benton, Greenwood, Jonesboro and Lake Hamilton are Parkview’s main competition in 2020. Benton comes in as 6A’s top team, but it’s close.
Will Pulaski Academy, Robinson, Harding Academy (Searcy) and Fordyce repeat?
All four of these teams have a great chance to repeat as state champions in 2020. The 2A-5A classes seem pretty predictable before the year begins, but there are certainly other contenders.
In 3A, Osceola, Prescott, Newport and Hoxie will all put pressure on Harding Academy.
Shiloh Christian, Ozark, Nashville, and Arkadelphia will all try to fend off Robinson in 4A, and in 5A, Little Rock Christian Academy, Harrison, White Hall, and Morrilton will attempt to challenge Pulaski Academy.
Will COVID-19 have a major impact on the season?
Harding Academy had to cancel its first game of the season due to multiple COVID-19 positive tests on their team. Hopefully we don’t see similar outbreaks amongst teams in Arkansas. If enough squads have to miss games, that could put the 2020 high school football season in jeopardy.