Panthers host Wildcats

Benton junior receiver Braxton Slaughter, 7, scores on a touchdown reception in last week’s 49-0 victory over Hall in Little Rock. The Panthers host the El Dorado Wildcats tonight at 7. BLAKE FOGLEMAN/Special to The Saline Courier
Tony Lenahan
Staff Writer

It was this time last year that the Benton Panthers were riding high off to a 5-1 overall start and 3-0 in the 6A West Conference. Again the Panthers are 5-1 and 3-0 but are looking forward to a much better ending of its season than last year heading into tonight’s game against the El Dorado Wildcats.
The Wildcats would get the best of Benton last season as Panther special teams gaffes put Benton behind the 8-ball in a 27-20 loss at El Dorado, which would start a three-game losing streak for the Panthers with Benton finishing 7-5.
But, it’s a different year with different teams as the Panthers are better this season and the Wildcats (3-3, 2-1) aren’t the same as last year’s 9-2 squad, losing 28 seniors and returning just seven starters.
But, despite the losses in personnel, the Wildcats are still dangerous and average 377 yards a game, 278 on the ground.
“They’re a very solid team,” Benton Coach Brad Harris said. “They’re a quality team. They’ve got some athletes, got some speed on the offensive side. They have some good players and do a really good job with what they do. It’s your typical El Dorado team as far as scheme. They have a very explosive quarterback, receiver and running back.”
That explosive quarterback is junior Alex Hicks. Hicks has passed for 613 yards and seven touchdowns, but does most of his damage on the ground leading the Wildcats with 690 yards and eight TDs. Hicks ran for 121 yards and a TD against Benton last year.
“They’re a run-oriented team,” Harris said. “Heavy run with quarterback runs leading the way. They do a lot of option game with him and just designed quarterback runs. He’s not very tall, 5-6, 5-7, 170 pounds. He played last year as a running back against us as a sophomore. A really explosive young man.
Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium at the Benton Athletic Complex in Benton. Listen on The Ride 106.7 FM.
Read the rest in Friday's The Saline Courier.