The Mark King era in Magnolia High School football will get off to an early start against a top-flight opponent.
Magnolia will play the Warren Lumberjacks at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 27 as part of the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield Kickoff Classic, presented by Hootens.com.
Warren is technically the home team but Magnolia won’t have to travel far. The game will be played at Southern Arkansas University’s Wilkins Stadium as part of a twin-bill.
Two Class 3A powerhouses, the Rison Wildcats and the Prescott Curley Wolves, will play in Wilkins Stadium at 7:30 p.m. Both teams advanced to the Class 3A semi-finals last season. Rison won 12 straight games before a 37-28 loss to Osceola. Prescott, 12-2 last season, lost to eventual state champion Booneville 34-31.
Magnolia will continue to play in the Class 5A-South football conference, while competing in Class 4A in all other sports. Magnolia will have seven conference games in Class 5A-South.
The Panthers’ three non-conference games – including the early match against Warren -- will be against squads that would otherwise be conference foes if Magnolia played football in Class 4A.
The Warren Lumberjacks are perennial Class 4A football championship contenders. Warren was 9-2 in 2018, beating Central Arkansas Christian 44-14 in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs before falling to eventual state champion Arkadelphia 41-14 in the second round.
Warren’s performance in the past decade under Coach Bo Hembree has been as impressive as Magnolia’s has been obscure. The Lumberjacks have made the playoffs every year since at least 2004. Warren won state titles in 2014 and 2016 – ripping through Class 4A in 2016 with a 15-0 record. It lost state championship games is 2013 and 2017.
Since 2009, Warren has an overall record of 99-30-1, and 61-8 in conference. It has lost only two conference games since 2012 – going undefeated in its conference in five of the past seven seasons.
King was hired earlier this year after the resignation of Panthers football coach John Panter. Magnolia won its first three games of 2018 – the best start to a Magnolia season in a decade – before losing four of its final seven games for a 6-4 record.
Panter’s overall record in Magnolia was 24-37, 14-28 in conference.
King compiled a 31-6 record in three seasons at Foreman. The Gators made the Class 2A playoffs each season and won the state title in 2017.
King was previously head football coach at Parkers Chapel and Horatio.
The rest of Magnolia’s 2019 football schedule. All games start at 7 p.m.:
September 6 – Crossett Eagles. Magnolia beat Crossett 24-0 last year. Crossett was 2-7 overall, 2-5 in conference.
September 13 – Monticello Billies. Magnolia won last year’s game 42-6. Monticello ended the year 0-10, 0-7 conference.
September 20 -- Open date.
September 27 – At Arkansas High Razorbacks (TexARKana). TexARKana won 41-7 after lightning prompted a game postponement until Saturday afternoon. Texarkana finished the year 10-2, 7-0 in conference. It beat Nettleton in the first round of the playoffs before losing 48-24 to Little Rock Christian in the quarterfinals.
October 4 – Hot Springs Lakeside Rams. Lakeside beat Magnolia 71-48 – the most points scored against a Panthers team in recent memory. Lakeside finished the season 5-6, 4-3 in conference. Blytheville beat Lakeside in a playoff game, 41-27.
October 11 – At Camden Fairview Cardinals. Fairview won 38-20. Fairview was 6-5 overall, 5-2 in conference. It lost to Wynne 10-6 in the playoffs.
October 18 – Hot Springs Trojans. Magnolia picked up its first Class 5A-South win of the season, 46-19. Hot Springs finished 1-9, 1-6.
October 25 – At Little Rock McClellan Lions. McClellan won 40-15 and finished the season 10-2, 6-1 in conference. McClellan won a playoff game against Valley View but lost to Pulaski Academy, 58-8 in the semi-finals.
November 1 – De Queen Leopards. Magnolia beat De Queen 40-29. De Queen was 1-9, 1-6 in 2018.
November 8 – At Hope Bobcats. Magnolia won 48-19. Hope’s sole win in 2018 broke a 25-game losing streak, but it has lost five straight since beating Hot Springs. Hope was 1-9, 1-6 last year.