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September 1, 2010As displayed in resounding fashion Monday night inside UAPB's fine stadium, Shiloh Christian certainly has all the makings of Arkansas's top high school football team this season. I know there are those at Springdale Har-Ber and El Dorado who would argue with me and while I admit they certainly bring valid points to the discussion, as for now, the talk begins and ends with a small private school nestled just off of Johnson Road in Springdale, Arkansas. The offensive explosion that erupted against Watson Chapel as the lights burned brighter Monday evening provide ammo for the argument as the Wildcats were not merely a small school hoping to stay in the ballgame against the Saints, they were ranked as the #1 team in class 5A-barely nine months removed from playing in the class 6A semi-finals. Shiloh Christian completely dismantled a very athletically gifted Watson Chapel team in every facet of the game, barring the coverage error on the Wildcats first kick-off return which resulted in the only score allowed by the Saints in the first half. They finished off Watson Chapel 54-22 in a game that wasn't even as close as the score indicates. When you look at the stats sheet, you really begin to gain a perspective on just how dominant Shiloh Christian was-431 total yards on just 35 offensive plays-in the first half alone against the Wildcats. After passing their first of three major tests in the early goings of the 2010 season, the Saints look the part on paper and on the field. Of course we can all admit that Watson Chapel is barely comparable material to what awaits Shiloh Christian in Cowboys Stadium just five days from now. Euless Trinity is bigger, stronger and much more physical than George Shelton's Watson Chapel squad but the Shiloh Christian Saints appear to be up for the challenge. The defensive front for the Saints wrecked havoc in the Wildcat backfield all night and the offensive line provided Kiehl Frazier enough time to complete 13 of 24 for 198 yards and four touchdowns, not to mention the excellent run blocking that allowed the Saints to rush for a gaudy 339 yards on only 35 attempts. As it has been mentioned before in not only this article but on every message board from here to Dallas, TX-Euless Trinity isn't your average opponent. The Trojans have won three of the last five Texas 5A Division 1 state championships. For those not in the know, that's the largest football classification in our nation's largest football playing state. They return 12 starters from a team that finished 14-2 last season and won that third title. Euless Trinity has amassed a 116-19 record since 2000 and are fresh off a 35-0 thumping of the previously 47 ranked Texas team of Tyler Lee. If that isn't enough to drive the point home, maybe this will be-the Euless Trinity Trojans are the #1 team in the nation according to USA Today. So, the burning question on our mind is this-how can the state of Arkansas benefit from a Shiloh Christian win on Labor Day? Exposure: Whether you want to admit it or not, having Shiloh Christian play Euless Trinity on football's biggest stage (Texas Stadium) is a pretty cool thing. All the ney-sayers will point and scoff at the way the match-up appears on paper, a match-up that certainly does not favor the Saints. All of that aside, the point is this-fans from across the nation will be exposed to the quality of high school football played in Arkansas. Now, there is risk and reward involved in that statement. The risk, and it is certainly there, is that Shiloh Christian will be completely obliterated by the Trojans. A complete dismantling of the Saints on Labor Day could have the reverse effect for what we as Arkansas high school football fans hope to gain from this match-up, exposure or attention. This is our chance as a state to rise up on the national stage and advertise our brand of football. Like I said, the coin has two sides and a blow-out loss by Shiloh Christian would certainly have negative connotations but just imagine if the Saints are able to compete with the Trojans, or dare I say, beat them. A Shiloh Christian win sends Arkansas high school football into the sports stratosphere as far as the nation is concerned. Win or lose though, this game draws attention to the state of Arkansas and I know for some fans having Shiloh Christian carry the banner for the Natural State might make you uneasy but in this situation, they are the best we've got. All eyes from Florida to Oregon will be on Texas Stadium and for Arkansas high school football that's the kind of spotlight we need. Perception: I touched on this in the previous paragraphs, but our state's national perception in large part rides on the Saints shoulders as they match-up with Euless Trinity. I mentioned that coin, and it has two sides. If Shiloh Christian gets humiliated then Arkansas football doesn't necessarily take a step back because in the minds of most high school football fans across the nation we're far from the top already, but it certainly doesn't help our perception at all. We'll still be viewed as an above average state in terms of our high school football, but still not on the level of Texas, Florida, California, Louisiana or even Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania for that matter. But, just for a moment, consider the ramifications of a Saints victory. Indeed, a win over Euless Trinity sends not just Shiloh Christian, but Arkansas as a whole skyrocketing up the charts as far as the perception of the quality of its high school football. What many consider the best team in Arkansas would have taken down not just the best team in Texas, which is a huge boost, but the No. 1 team in the entire country. To be honest, the Saints don't even have to beat the Trojans, just be competitive with them. If they lose the ballgame, it's alright, in all honesty, that's what the nation expects them to do. If they can play a competitive game with Euless Trinity though, it'll raise some eyebrows and enlighten people to the fact that Arkansas high school football has indeed arrived on the national scene and it has no plans on going away any time soon. To drive the point home even further, let's just say that Shiloh does pull the upset over the Trojans, then come home to Arkansas and fall to Greenwood. Now, it appears that the quality of football in the Natural State is even better if the team that just took down the No. 1 team in the land couldn't even beat one of the better 5A schools in its home state. Recruiting: All eyes will be on Shiloh Christian not just because of the match-up, but because of their athletes. College coaches from across the country certainly know about the quality of athletes here in Arkansas, they've dropped in a cherry picked some of our very best over the last few seasons. From Tennessee to Ohio, over to Kansas or California and down to Texas including just about everywhere in between you'll find Arkansans playing college football. The college coaches know, but the rest of the nation is still asleep when it comes to what Arkansas has to offer. The quality of the high school football here in Arkansas has risen dramatically over the past decade, and with that comes the rise in quality athletes to play that elevated brand of football. When the country watches Kiehl Frazier and company operate their spread attack against Euless, they'll get a glimpse at just how good our kids here in the Natural State really are. Obviously, Frazier is about as good as they come, not just here in Arkansas but around the country, but still, he's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the fine athletes located right here within our state lines. Every kid that hopes to play college football one day will benefit from a good showing by Shiloh Christian because as recruiters fill the stands around Arkansas each Friday night in hopes of watching one of our state's top prospects they always seem to find a diamond in the rough, or two. It always seems to be the kid they're not looking for that catches their attention and teams like Shiloh Christian play those schools all year long. Schools with good talent here or there that hope to get noticed but rarely do. You can bet that if Shiloh Christian can hang with or somehow manage to beat Euless Trinity, there will be that many more recruiters, scouts and coaches picking up road maps and finding their way to a high school football field here in Arkansas this season. So for Arkansas football fans, you might have found 1,000 reasons to root against the Saints over the years but I've just given you three good reasons for why you should cheer them on. Remember, they accepted the game and they now represent Arkansas in front of not just our Texas rivals, but the entire nation. I, for one, wish them the best of luck and hope for an excellent showing on Labor Day. Keep checking back with ArkansasVarsity.com for all of your Arkansas Prep Sports and Recruiting News!
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