With football practice beginning Monday, Pulaski Academy will have a huge target on their back entering the 2011 season as they are ranked as the #1 team in the 4A classification in every major preseason poll. They will face the same regular season opponents as last year, but they will travel to Fayetteville on Monday, August 22, to scrimmage the 7A Bulldogs.
On Monday, August 22, the Bruins will travel to Fayetteville for their junior varsity to scrimmage the Pea Ridge Blackhawks at 6:00. The varsity will scrimmage Fayetteville following. The format for the scrimmage has not been released, but they will scrimmage the Bulldogs for at least a half. Fayetteville lost in the 7A Championship game last season to Bentonville.
A familiar matchup will come the next Monday, August 29, as PA will once again face the Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs at War Memorial Stadium in the second game of a double header. The Bruins won last year's matchup 59-33 and tied a record for longest play from scrimmage as Fredi Knighten hit Garrett Lamb with a 99-yard touchdown pass.
One of two losses last year came in week 2 as the Cabot Panthers beat the Bruins at home, 35-34. The Bruins had a chance to win late, but turned the ball over, allowing the Panthers to do what they do best - run out the clock. PA will travel to Cabot on Friday, September 9 with kickoff scheduled for 7:00.
PA began a series with Lake Hamilton in 2008, and they are scheduled to play for the next three years as well. PA won the opening game of the series in 2008, Lake Hamilton won in 2009, and PA took the series lead last year with a 41-24 win at home. The Bruins will travel to Lake Hamilton this year on Friday, September 16 for a 7:00 kickoff. The Wolves are predicted by many to win the 6A State Championship as they did in 2008.
Beginning conference play, the Bruins will host the Maumelle Hornets, formerly Oak Grove. Maumelle High School is opening this year and is rumored to have more than double the enrollment of Oak Grove. Oak Grove gave Pulaski Academy fits in the first half last year as the Bruins held just a 21-20 halftime lead before running away in the second half for a 44-20 victory. The Bruins will host the now red and black Hornets at 7:00 on Friday, September 23.
The most important game of the regular season will likely be on Friday, September 30, when the Bruins travel to Nashville for a 7:30 kickoff. PA played a near perfect first half last year to build a 39-7 halftime lead en route to a 53-34 victory over the Scrappers. The Scrappers will be much improved as they are ranked #2 and #3 in most 4A preseason polls. They are also traditionally very tough on "The Hill," the affectionate nickname they give to their stadium in Nashville.
Following the 2-hour bus ride to Nashville at the end of September, the Bruins will travel another 30 minutes as they head to De Queen for the first game of October on Friday, the 7th. That game is also set to get underway at 7:30. PA defeated the Leopards, 48-17, in last year's meeting.
Homecoming this year will be on Friday, October 14, as the Bruins host Bauxite at 7:00. Last year's game was over by halftime as the Bruins led 41-0 on their way to a 55-12 win.
Malvern will be a tough test as they travel to Little Rock on October 21 for a 7:00 game. Last year's game was a dog fight as Malvern was able to hold the Bruins to just 14 points in the first half and 21 points through 3 quarters, their lowest output of the season. However, PA put it out of reach with 20 4th quarter points on their way to a 41-21 victory.
Probably the toughest win for the Bruins last year was their 55-40 shootout with the Robinson Senators. PA led 21-20 at the end of the first quarter and 37-28 at halftime. This year the Bruins will make the 10 minute trek over to Robinson to play on Friday, October 28, at 7:00.
Ashdown had the luxury of playing Pulaski Academy twice last season. PA traveled to Ashdown in week 10 and seemed to dispose of the Panthers rather easily as they defeated them 35-13. The third round of the playoffs was a different story as Ashdown stymied the high octane Bruin offense for much of the game and held them to 150 yards less than their 531 yards per game average. The defense for the Bruins was much stingier, however, as they held Ashdown to -11 yards of offense. The Bruins won that one, 38-0. Ashdown will travel to PA for the final game of the regular season on Friday, November 4. That will be senior night for the Bruins with the game beginning at 7:30.
Playoff brackets have not been released, but the 4A will have a 30-team playoff with all six conferences putting five teams into the playoffs. Two conference champions will receive a bye in the first round. The championship game will be played on Saturday, December 10, at noon.
A PDF version of the schedule can be downloaded here.