The stage is set for important matchups in Faulkner County on Friday.

Greenbrier and Vilonia enter Friday as a pair of unbeatens and will not only be facing off for the Judges Cup in Greenbrier in front of a likely standing-room-only crowd, but the pair will be playing for the 5A West championship as well as the 5A West top seed.

This is a game that has a bunch of people talking already.

I overheard a conversation at church Sunday about people talking about its importance.

I’ve heard Vilonia wants the game moved to UCA so more seating can be had.

This game is important. And, unfortunately despite my best efforts, our publisher has decided to not try to extend Friday’s deadline to get this all important game in our paper, so it will be posted Friday night to thecabin.net, and my reactions will come in Wednesday’s edition.

But, I’m going to talk about these two teams for a bit.

Vilonia entered this season with high expectations and rightfully so.

Coach Todd Langrell has done a great job turning around the mess that was at the school prior to his arrival and now the Eagles are one of the premier teams in 5A.

Vilonia has faced some adversity this season in terms of opponents and haven’t exactly blown every opponent away like its counterpart Friday, but the team has won, and that’s what is most important.

Austin Myers looks every bit as one of the state’s best prospects and his receiving corps has to be one of the best in the state.

On the other side, I will admit, I figured this would be a year of the typical solid Randy Tribble-coached Greenbrier team, but I didn’t expect the Panthers to be as good as they have been.

Greenbrier has played one close game all year, and that came against Class 4A Arkadelphia on Sept. 10.

Otherwise, these Panthers mauled opponents, never losing by less than 21 the remainder of the season.

Greenbrier has enacted the sportsmanship rule in every game but two this season.

What the Panthers have done is impressive. Cooper Wilcox’s running ability, plus his throwing ability, backed by the skill guys on offense, a solid defense and offensive line has made this Greenbrier team one of the best in the state.

So, it’s fitting that in Greenbrier’s last season in 5A — they are moving up to 6A next season — the two Faulkner County foes will be playing for the 5A West championship as two unbeaten teams.

And, while I can certainly see the sentiment of wanting to play this game at UCA, Vilonia has hosted the last two meetings between these two teams and if the agreement had been made prior to the season, then I can definitely make sense of this game being played on “The Stripes.”

However, you’re also factoring in that UCA would have to sign off on it when the Bears play Saturday at Estes Stadium for homecoming.

Regardless, I’m excited to watch this game Friday.

I’m also excited to watch Conway host Bryant on Friday.

The Wampus Cats have had an easier schedule the last two weeks, so it’s been a foregone conclusion that this Friday’s game against Bryant would be for the 7A Central title.

This could be the year that Conway ends Bryant’s stranglehold on the 7A Central and possibly Class 7A as the Wampus Cats have been playing their best football in quite some time.

Conway, too, has come in as a bit of a surprise team, as it has enacted the sportsmanship rule in all but a couple of games as well.

Many across the state thought the order of teams would be Bryant, North Little Rock, Cabot and then Conway.

However, in back-to-back weeks, Conway beat NLR and Cabot by scores of 38-10 and 57-21, respectively.

The offense has played well this season and the defense has been forcing numerous turnovers.

It will be an exciting game for sure.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, Quitman is playing Friday for the Class 4-2A second seed against Hector.

That game will be one to track as well as Quitman’s and Hector’s lone conference hiccup has been against undefeated Bigelow, who looks like it is on a warpath for the Class 2A title.

Andy Robertson is the sports editor of the Log Cabin Democrat and can be reached at arobertson@thecabin.net.

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