Sturgis takes West’s top honor

Benton defensive back DJ Sturgis catches a touchdown pass playing receiver in a game earlier this season. Sturgis was named the 6A West Conference Defensive Back of the Year recently. RICK NATION/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

Benton senior cornerback DJ Sturgis was named the 6A West Conference Defensive Back of the Year and was honored All-State, while two other Panthers earned All-State and 10 Benton players took either first- or second-team All-Conference honors.
“DJ has been a great player for us for two years,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said of Sturgis, who transferred to Benton his junior season. “We really enjoyed having him here. He’s what you want your kid to grow up and act like; yes sir, no sir kid, but he’s also a really good athlete. He brought a great work ethic to the field every day.”
Sturgis helped the Panthers finish 7-5 this season as Benton fell in the second round of the 6A State Tournament in West Memphis. Sturgis led Saline County with five interceptions, one returned for an 89-yard touchdown, adding seven pass breakups and 32 tackles.
“He was a great role model for our players,” Harris said. “He wasn’t a a big rah, rah guy, vocal guy, but he kind of grew into that role a little bit where he would talk to guys and that was big for us this year. We’re really excited about his senior year, the way he stepped in and played receiver for us because of injury and had a couple big catches for us down the stretch. He helped us on both sides of the ball. Just a really good kid and a really good year for him. Just really proud for him to get All-State and for the coaches in our conference to think of him as the best DB in the conference.”