Panthers try to beat devil out of W. Memphis

Benton senior Beau Brewer bowls into the end zone last week in a 42-0 victory over the Jacksonville Titans at Panthers Stadium in the first round of the 6A State Tournament. The Panthers head to West Memphis to face the Blue Devils tonight in Round 2. RICK NATION/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

After shutting out the Jacksonville Titans 42-0 in the first round of the 6A State Tournament, the Benton Panthers (7-4) will be looking for their fourth straight 6A semifinals appearance tonight in West Memphis. The Panthers travel east to play a 9-1 Blue Devils squad, which its only loss came to a very good Pine Bluff Zebras team, 33-7.
“They’re really good,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said. “They only lost the one game to Pine Bluff. Pine Bluff is really talented this year, so West Memphis is a really good team. They’ve beat some good teams this year in nonconference and conference play. I don’t think the East is at the level it was last year, but they’ve still beat some good teams. They beat a good Searcy team midseason and they’re going to be tough.
“They’re athletic, play hard and have some good size. I know they’re going to have good speed over there. They’re a talented team and we’re going to have to play extremely well to win.”
The Blue Devils threw the ball just four times in their regular-season finale in the 44-23 win over Mountain Home, but they didn’t have to throw it. Senior quarterback Michael Troxler runs the offense and he has thrown for 1,189 yards (48 percent) for 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He has also run for 336 yards and seven TD on the season.
“I expect them to throw the football maybe a little more than what they did,” Harris said. “(Troxler) is a little bit of a run threat, too, and anytime you get the QB involved in the run game it’s kind of scary. He’s kind of a tall, lanky kid and does a good job of operating their offense. He’s not just a pure, drop-back, pick-you-apart type passer, but he does a good job with running their offense.”
West Memphis’ leading receivers are seniors Steven Stone (21 catches, 446 yards, six TDs) and Amarius Stinnett (16, 375, 5), but the Blue Devils will attempt to establish their run game with another senior, Guren Holmes, who has run for 1,195 yards (6.3 average) and 10 TDs. Holmes had his best game of the year against Mountain Home with over 200 yards and four TDs on the ground.