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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

AAA Shakes Up Conferences For Area Teams

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The Arkansas Athletic Association has released its proposed conference realignment for the 2020-2022 seasons. Football is listed separately than all other sports, therefore, some teams will be in one conference in football but could be in another conference for Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, Softball, etc. This shuffle will create quite the mix up for our area teams.

Mansfield will remain in the 3A in football competition but will see some new faces in their conference. The football Tigers will continue to face off against Charleston, Cedarville, West Fork, and Greenland but will also be welcoming Lavaca, Lincoln, and their old rival Hackett in conference play. The Tigers will be dropping down to 2A in all other sports such as Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, and Softball. This move will allow Mansfield to face teams they haven’t played in many years.

The Tigers will be in conference play with Magazine, Acorn, Fort Smith Future School, Johnson County Westside, Lavaca, & Mountainburg. Mansfield School District Athletics Director, Craig Bentley, gave his thoughts on the changes. “We are looking forward to our new conference, I think it will be a competitive conference and wide open…any number of teams could compete for the conference championship or one of those playoff spots. Also, it’s exciting to renew some old rivalries.”

The Hackett Hornets will be moving up to the 3A across the board in all sports. Hackett will square off with teams like Mansfield and Charleston who have spent years in 3A Football. The only familiar face in Football for the Hornets will be their former 2A opponent, the Lavaca Golden Arrows who are also moving up into the 3A. Also in the Hornets Football conference will be Cedarville, West Fork, Greenland, and Lincoln. Hackett will be moving up into the 3A conference in Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, and Softball facing the likes of Booneville, Waldron, Cossatot River, Paris, Charleston, and Cedarville.

Lonnie Hester, Hackett Hornet Athletic Director, said this about what the future holds. “You adapt to change. Our Coaches, across the board, coach our kids to compete no matter the opponent. That’s what Athletics is really about (training kids at doing your best and competing to win). We have great coaches & great kids and look forward to competing in the new classification. As for football, we already play Mansfield & Lavaca and we will be able to keep a couple of familiar teams on our schedule with our non-conference games like Mountainburg (which has become a big game for both programs). We will also be able to renew some old rivalries that we had from back in the old 2-4A West days. Some of these kids’ dads grew up playing teams like Charleston and Cedarville along with Mansfield & Lavaca.”

Waldron will see a few new teams in the shakeup, but will not move up or down in their conference in the 2020-2022 AAA proposal. They will remain 4A in Football and 3A in all other sports. Waldron football will be in the 4A-4 going toe to toe with Dardanelle, Dover, Lamar, Mena, Ozark, Pottsville, and Subiaco. The Bulldogs will be staying in the 3A conference in Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball, and Softball. They will play pretty much the same opponents taking on Booneville, Paris, Charleston, and Cedarville while adding Hackett and Cossatot River.

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