Football is a lot like the game of life in that it’s not always fair, but those in power do their best to govern it. At the beginning of August, the Arkansas Activities Association’s governing body narrowly voted down Proposal 7, which would have eliminated private schools from playing against public schools in the state playoffs.

Football is a lot like the game of life in that it’s not always fair, but those in power do their best to govern it. At the beginning of August, the Arkansas Activities Association’s governing body narrowly voted down Proposal 7, which would have eliminated private schools from playing against public schools in the state playoffs.
However, those same private schools would still compete in conference play then split off into their own playoffs at the end of the season.
This proposal was a disgrace to me considering it would allow Shiloh Christian, who was at the center of the conflict, to still beat up on Berryville and the rest of the weak 1-4A Conference then not be allowed to play for the state championship. So you could end up with a team that didn’t even win their league as the state champion. Could a public school really hold its head high knowing it didn’t beat everybody in its division, yet won the state championship? Apparently, 94 could.
Shiloh Christian already plays up a division since the private schools must count each student as nearly two students.
Teams like Berryville that just can’t cut the mustard and apparently quite a few that can compete but would rather not play teams like Shiloh Christian and Pulaski Academy are complaining, evidence by 94 votes out of 211 going against private schools.
After looking at the Saints’ schedule, it’s obvious their 65-0 win over Berryville wasn’t the only lopsided score. Shiloh opened the season with a 47-9 loss to Evangel Christian of Shreveport, Louisiana but bounced back with a 14-7 victory over Lincoln, Oklahoma and 37-20 win over 5A Arkansas power Greenwood. Among others, the Saints beat Gentry 70-3 and Farmington 51-0 in league play then ran roughshod through the playoffs with wins over Clarksville (84-14), Lonoke (47-7), Osceola (51-12) and Dollarway (42-18).
So entering conference play at 2-1, it’s my opinion the Saints had taken some licks and were ready to dish out some of their own. It’s not their fault they play in a weak conference. There are two 4A conferences in northwest Arkansas and both are weak when compared to the rest of the 4A. How is a team supposed to improve by taking a knee with its second and third teams?
Those same players could very well be competing for a starting position that year or down the line. It’s simply not fair to the reserves to try and not score. I understand not passing the ball, but asking them to quit scoring would make me feel even worse as an opposing coach.
Going back to my sophomore year in high school at Jonesboro, we played at Fort Smith Southside the first game of the season. The Rebels, who were picked to win first place in what was the 4A-West at that time, whipped us 54-6 under the tutelage of Barry Lunney Sr., who now coaches Bentonville, another program on the rise in northwest Arkansas.
Instead of griping about them running up the score, we took it as a lesson that we didn’t want to lose that badly ever again. Actually, we didn’t ever want to lose but that’s not how life works for most of us.
Not only did we not lose that bad the rest of the season, we placed fourth in the 4A-East, which matched us up against Fort Smith Southside again in the first round of the state playoffs.
Believe it or not, we went back over there with a game plan we believed in, executed it and came away with a 7-3 victory. That game taught me more about life than any class, clinic or seminar that I’ve attended.
The lesson I learned was always believe in yourself and never give up no matter how tough the odds become. We wound up losing to eventual state champion Pine Bluff in the second round. They let up on us in the second half or the score would have been far worse than 34-6. We weren’t dumb, we knew they pulled all their starters in the second half and it didn’t make us feel any better to lose by 28 rather than 68. In my opinion, a loss is a loss no matter how bad the final outcome.
Try telling Marianna to let up at halftime next time they are up by 30 points. Physically, the Trojans played the same players as the first half against Heber Springs last season, but the Panthers never relinquished victory, dug deep and clawed back into the game and pulled out an astonishing victory. Those kids from Heber learned a lesson of a lifetime that night. Don’t feel sorry for yourself but get up off the ground and do something about what is happening.
Right now we have all these whining coaches and administrators from Berryville and evidently many other schools throwing in the towel, basically saying Shiloh is too good to play with the public schools.
The Saints have a smaller enrollment than any of their conference competitors, but they were able to essentially recruit until the AAA passed Proposal 8 at the same meeting in early August. The new proposal says a student athlete must be enrolled by his/her seventh grade year or must sit out a year. Recruiting is the root of the whole problem. For instance, if a player is backup quarterback at one of Springdale’s two public schools, now they can’t transfer to Shiloh and become the starter without missing a year. Therefore, the private schools can’t pick kids that can fill voids because they won’t want to sit out a season.
I believe this is a great way to slow private school recruiting, but what about all the underground recruiting at public schools? You can’t tell me Little Rock Parkview doesn’t recruit for basketball…they just happen to end up with the best five players in the city nearly every year.

(Will Gilbert is Sports Editor for The Sun-Times. Send comments to sports@thesuntimes.com)