Benton, Bulldogs to battle

Benton senior receiver Michael Allison, 9, runs after a catch in last week’s 62-35 win over El Dorado in Benton. The Panthers head to Greenwood to take on the Bulldogs. BLAKE FOGLEMAN/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

The time is now. The Benton Panthers travel to Greenwood to take on the Bulldogs, the top 6A squad in Arkansas, tonight. The game should determine the 6A West Conference champion as long there are no hiccups the remainder of the regular season for either team.
“Excited to have that opportunity with both of us being in a situation to win a conference championship,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said. “This late in Week 8 of the season, a game of this magnitude, it should be a good one.”
It’ll be No. 1 vs. No. 2 as the Panthers (6-1, 4-0 West) are rated the No. 2 6A team in the state per Hooten’s Football. Both Benton and Greenwood (6-1, 4-0) lost their season-opening games with the Panthers falling to rival Bryant in the Salt Bowl at War Memorial Stadium and the Bulldogs losing the Fort Smith Northside Grizzlies on the road. Since then, they have both won six in a row going into Week 8 of the season.
“It’s gone by really quick,” Harris said. “We’ve got three regular-season games left and then the playoffs. It seems like it’s flown by, but it’s like the old saying, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun.’ We’ve had a good season up till now. We want to go ahead and finish it off.”
The Bulldogs defeated Benton 33-17 last season (the closest any team played them last year) on their way to a 6A state title, and though they lost 28 seniors, including starting quarterback Connor Noland and running back Kenny Wood, to graduation, Greenwood is still a force to be reckoned with.
“They’re solid at every position and all phases of the game,” Harris said. “We’re going to have to play well to have an opportunity to win, but we feel like if we play well we’ll be right in the game. It’s a lot better feeling than we’ve had the last couple years playing those guys. We feel like if we play well and they play well, we’re still in the ballgame. That’s a good feeling to have as a coach when you play a team of their caliber and know you just need to go out and take care of your business.”
Read the rest in Friday's The Saline Courier.