The biggest victory in the 2011 playoffs has nothing to do with the final score.

The biggest victory in the 2011 playoffs has nothing to do with the final score.

The biggest victory is that Sheridan (6-5) is playing football in mid-November. Not since 1990 had the Yellowjackets football program won a playoff game, but that changed last week with a 15-10 victory at Jacksonville.

Sheridan’s victory wasn’t a by-product of the new playoff format that has every Class 6A school in the playoffs regardless of record, either. Jacksonville entered the game 5-5 and held home field advantage over the Yellowjackets because of a better conference record.

By winning a single playoff game, the culture has changed for a program previously known around the state as a coaching graveyard. Sheridan has been working to raise its profile by improving the facilities, publishing an online media guide and hiring a big name coach in former Division-I assistant Louis Campbell. Yet none of that made a bigger impact than that singular victory in Jacksonville.

Lake Hamilton represents a different challenge altogether, with the Wolves riding an eight-game winning streak. Since 2007, Lake Hamilton has won 39 games, including the 2008 state championship.

The Wolves completed an undefeated 7-0 season in the 6A-South Conference and improved to 10-1 with last week’s first round victory. In Week 4 this year, Sheridan fell to Lake Hamilton 41-0.

Class 4A

Gravette (9-2)

at Warren (8-2-1)

Last Friday’s first-round victory over Valley View summed up why the Warren Lumberjacks may be the most intriguing team in the Class 4A playoff field.

Known for their air attack, the Lumberjacks instead kept it balanced against the Blazers, with running back Kilay Cox running for 208 yards. Warren was equally effective defensively, out-hitting Valley View’s physical run game.

In short, the Lumberjacks played like a team capable of a deep postseason run. The question is whether they can sustain their success — many of Warren’s starters are freshmen and sophomores, making tonight’s game just the second playoff game in their varsity careers.

But if their performance against Valley View was any indication, the Lumberjacks may prove that experience is overrated. The defense has an opportunity to set the tone, as Gravette will probably run the ball even more than the Blazers. Warren wasn’t consistent enough to completely shut down the run a week ago, but the potential remains.

“We had a few chances to put Valley View away and we didn’t do it,” Warren coach Bo Hembree said. “We made some mistakes, but the kids competed well.”

Class 3A

Fordyce (9-2)

at Charleston (10-1)

The records suggest an even match-up, but any follower of high school football in Arkansas knows better.

Among the state’s smaller schools, Charleston is synonymous with excellence. Tucked away near Fort Smith, Charleston has won two state titles since 2005 and four conference championships. Tigers coach Doug Loughridge has amassed a 55-6 record since taking over in 2007.

Fordyce may be in the midst of one of its best seasons in the past 10 years, but Redbugs coach Tim Rodgers knows his team will be the underdog just the same.

“The main thing we’re focusing on is to do everything right,” Rodgers said. “They’re so solid in their technique. They’re so well-coached.”

Yet if Charleston has a southern counterpart when it comes to tradition and success, it’s Rison. And that’s fortunate, because Fordyce beat Rison in its regular season finale.

Rodgers has seized on that, pointing out to his players that Rison, like Charleston, is a fundamentally-sound run-based team steeped in championship tradition.

Of course, traveling to Rison and traveling to Charleston are two different things. But Rodgers doesn’t mind.

“I kind of like traveling to places I’ve never been before,” Rodgers said.

Glen Rose (8-3)

at Rison (9-2)

The Rison Wildcats won’t be converting to the Spread offense any time soon, so don’t ask.

Still, longtime followers of the Wildcats program had to be enjoying themselves watching Rison set a school record with 228 first-half passing yards in last week’s first-round victory over Bismarck.

Numbers like that simply don’t pop up in Rison, where coach Clay Totty has won two state titles using a run-first Veer offense. Prior to Totty’s arrival, the Wildcats ran to a state championship under legendary option-loving coach Jim “Red” Parker.

Last Friday’s air show may have been fun, but it was also probably a limited engagement.

“We just took what they were giving us,” Totty said.

Expect Glen Rose to do the throwing Friday, and that could be a problem.

“Their quarterback is a good player,” Totty said. “And that’s what’s given us trouble this year.”

The other thing that has given the Wildcats problems this season has been injuries, but help could be on the way. Senior running back A.J. Smith may be cleared to play tonight, giving the Wildcats some stability in the backfield.

“Depth has been the big challenge for us, because we’ve had so many kids hurt,” Totty said.