Panthers close regular season vs. Jackets

Benton senior Kelby Caffery, 11, dives for a tackle in last week’s 34-24 Panthers win over the Lake Hamilton Wolves at Panther Stadium in Benton. BLAKE FOGLEMAN/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Sports Editor

After holding on to defeat the always pesky Lake Hamilton Wolves last week in Benton to secure the 6A West’s No. 2 seed and bye for the 6A State Tournament, the Benton Panthers head to Sheridan today to face the Yellowjackets in the regular-season finale.
It’s been a tough year for the Yellowjackets as they stand at 2-7 overall, 1-5 in the West and have lost their past two decisions to Lake Hamilton and Greenwood by a combined 78-14. Meanwhile, the Panthers stand at 7-2, 5-1 in the West, downing the Wolves 34-24 last Friday night at Panthers Stadium. Lake Hamilton had beaten Benton the previous two seasons before the Panthers broke the streak last week.
“Practice has been really good,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said. “I was really concerned because Sheridan is not doing well, out of the playoff picture, but Sheridan views us as a big rival. Our kids look at Sheridan as a little bit more of a rival (than Lake Hamilton) because in baseball it’s a big rivalry for us, and it is some in football. We’ve had a pretty good week.”
It was last season Benton began 5-1, 3-0 in the West before suffering a three-game losing streak beginning with El Dorado in Week 7. But, the Panthers topped El Dorado this season before falling hard to 6A defending champion Greenwood on the road and then on vs. the Wolves.
Offensively, the Jackets are led by junior running back Alden Lucas, who has rushed for 588 yards and five touchdowns for 4.7 yards per carry, followed by senior back Montana Korte’s 243 yards and six TDs.
Sheridan’s passing game hasn’t been much of a threat this season as junior Stephon Thomas starts and has thrown for 458 yards at a 37-percent clip with more interceptions, five, than TDs, three. Senior receiver Hunter Threlkeld leads the Jackets with 10 receptions for 94 yards without a score, while playing in just 6 of the 9 games.
The Panthers and Jackets will kick off at 7 p.m. at Yellowjacket Stadium in Sheridan. Listen on The Ride 106.7 FM.
Read the rest in Friday's The Saline Courier.