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Football: Rivalry hallmarks season’s start

It’s Crawford County football.

The southern county schools will set up camp at Blakemore Field as Van Buren hosts Alma in the 14th iteration of Battle of the Bone and the 64th meeting between the two teams.

Mountainburg and Cedarville square off in the second Battle of the Crawford County Treasure Chest at Glen Wisely Field the 30th contest between the northern county schools.

Alma heads back to Van Buren after winning the last two contests including last season’s 47-21 win.

This time around the Airedales will have a new head coach and another new quarterback.

Doug Loughridge will get his first taste of the Van Buren-Alma game as junior Evan Burris earns his prep debut.

“I’m expecting an emotion-filled rivalry matchup,” said Loughridge. “Offensively, Van Buren will be a fast-paced, no-huddle team, which can score any time it has the football. Defensively, Van Buren is very aggressive, runs to football very well and is very sound in its scheme.

“I’m looking for a great Friday night high school football atmosphere.”

Last season, Gage Jensen made his debut as quarterback as he threw for three touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards as Alma won 47-21.

The Airedales led 34-0 early in the third quarter before Van Buren got its offense rolling in the second half after being limited to 35 yards in the first half.

“I think Alma has as much talent they have had in the past few years,” said Van Buren coach Brooks Coatney. “Alma is picked to win its conference and they have a good junior and sophomore class. We’re going to have to play well and catch a few breaks to have a chance.”

Mountainburg at Cedarville

The contest between these schools have gone back and fourth in the past two seasons as the Dragons welcomed Cedarville coach Mark Shelton to the county with a 30-0 rout in the 2011 Hooten’s Kickoff Classic. Last season, Cedarville came to Mountainburg and stunned the school 48-20 after building a 28-0 lead.

“We surprised them last season,” said Shelton. “so they may be looking to return the favor this year.”

The Dragons have moved 300-pound lineman Josh Skattebo to quarterback and has changed up the offense to give Mountainburg a different look for the 2013 season.

“I was okay with them moving Skattebo to quarter, so that way we didn’t have to deal with him on the line, but Mountainburg has found other guys to replace him,” said Shelton. “As big as they are, they run pretty well. The type of power game coach (Tom) Harrell is going to run has me very concerned, but it’s the kind of football I would like to run myself.”

Cedarville returns three-year starter and 3A-4 All Conference selection Dylan Shelton at quarterback.

Last season, Dylan Shelton was 180 of 278 passing for 2,562 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also had 52 carries for 292 yards and two more scores.

Coach Harrell was impressed with Cedarville after watching the Pirates scrimmage Hackett.

“Cedarville looks really good. The best they’ve looked in a while,” said Harrell. “I just wish I had a month to get ready to play them instead of a week.”

“I was worried all off season about what kind of offense Mountainburg would run,” said coach Shelton. “This is my worse nightmare realized. We are going to have to be good on both offense and defense.”