BENTON PANTHERS: Benton a contender if injury free
August 26, 2012
Coach Scott Neathery believes he can put the players on the field to take the Benton High School Panthers into the playoffs after a 3-8 season last year.
The 2012 team has 12 returning starters: seven on the defense and five on the offense.
“All these guys are seniors except for one,” Neathery said. “We don’t have a lot of depth. We have 65 players suiting up, but what we have are quality.”
Junior quarterback Tarek Beaugard has most of last season under his belt as a starter, playing most of the season after the veteran starter was injured.
“There were some growing pains, but he put some good games together late in the season,” Neathery said. “He has matured and has quickly become a leader.”
Senior Wallace Foote gained more than 1,000 yards rushing each of the last two years on the varsity with more than 1,600 each year in all-purpose yards, according to the coach. Both years, Foote was named all-conference.
“He will tote the rock for us, no doubt about it,” the coach said.
Also running the ball will be junior Shaun Carey, who got into a few games in his sophomore year, along with junior Samonte Wallace. Neathery especially likes Wallace, who will also be a receiver.
“He runs violently,” the coach said. “He’ll be a good change-up for Foote.”
Carey will come into the season starting as a free safety after working on the position in the spring.
Boone Cox, a senior, is the veteran of the receiver corps, along with senior Taylor Wright, junior J.V. Davis and Wallace.
Neathery said that when needed, he can place five solid seniors on the line and that they are getting stronger. Senior Ryan Keene has played both ways for the last two years but will start as a defensive tackle. Seniors Chase Pigue and Brody Barker will be at guard.
The coach said the Panthers need to win early to build confidence.
“Everything is a big game, but we need that first game,” Neathery said. “We had some hard times last year. We started with three hard-fought games, and then injury struck. We need to get out in front of Arkadelphia when we play them on [Tuesday] at War Memorial Stadium. We are used to playing there, and with a win, we can get some momentum.”
As for the big game with Bryant, Neathery said it remains big, but the Salt Bowl coming well into the season this year means the buildup will not be so high. The game, which will now be a 7A/6A South Conference game for the teams, will be held Sept. 21.
“It will not be building up all summer, but it will be a big game, especially if we both come in undefeated,” the Benton coach said. “It’s also a conference game now, so it is big in every way.”
The key to the season, Neathery said, is to stay away from injuries.
“If we can play without injuries, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good,” he said.