The long football offseason is finally coming to an end and the hunt for a state championship begins tonight as a new season kicks off in Arkansas.
209 teams will start the drive to War Memorial Stadium to compete for seven state championships to be decided in the first two weekends of December in the state's capital city. Though some of the preseason favorites remain the same, a handful of last season's finalists have changed classifications.
2021 5A champion Pulaski Academy, along with Little Rock Christian (5A) and Little Rock Catholic (7A) have moved to class 6A and form one of the strongest classifications in recent history at that level. 4A champion Robinson and runner-up Shiloh Christian both move up to 5A while Little Rock Parkview drops down to 5A as those three are expected to be in the hunt for a crown. Last season's 3A state champion Harding Academy is also moving up a classification to 4A.
In 2022, 13 teams will compete in sanctioned 8-man football as Strong-Huttig tries to repeat but will have to do so with a new head coach. But the Bulldogs are not alone in breaking in a new head coach as more than 50 schools, or nearly 25 percent of football playing schools, have a new leader this fall.
Cedar Ridge, Cutter Morning Star, Fountain Lake, Genoa Central, Marshall, Mountain View, Parkers Chapel, Rose Bud and Subiaco Academy are all playing eight man football but are not eligible for the state championship as they are not in either class 1A or 2A.