The Catholic High Rockets led the game 10-0 against the Benton Panthers in the first quarter at War Memorial Stadium on Friday, Sept 16, 2022. The Panthers did their best to catch up in the second and third, but their efforts were matched. In the end, the Rockets played the better game with the final score of 38 – 14. Whit now answers the 3 questions posed before the game (updates in maroon):
1. Will the Benton Panthers’ coverage hold up against Catholic High’s passing attack?
PREGAME THOUGHTS: In the Panthers’ last game against the Sylvan Hills Bears, there were many busts in coverages, and many missed assignments that led to huge plays for the Bears. In this week’s game against the Catholic High Rockets, the Panthers need to be sure to correct these issues, or the Rockets will take advantage of them.
Catholic High’s QB, Sam Sanders, has thrown for 288 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception through two games this year, while his leading receiver Brooks Ward has caught 6 receptions for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns. And when in sync, this duo can be deadly. So the question remains – are the Panthers up to the challenge, or will Catholic walk over them?
POSTGAME ANSWER: In the Panthers’ game against Catholic, the pass coverage was a little shaky. Sam Sander threw for 182 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Both of Sanders’ touchdown passes were busts in coverage by the Panthers’ defense. If the Panthers want to contend for a conference championship they need to fix this problem fast.
2. Will Benton Panther QB Jack Woolbright repeat last week’s performance?
PREGAME THOUGHTS: In the Panthers’ last outing. Jack Woolbright had a dominant performance throwing for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns against Sylvan Hills. This week Jack will face a Catholic defense that only allowed 28 passing yards last week against Greene County Tech.
Jack will have to be accurate and precise for the Panthers to have success against the Rockets. But it’s safe to say if Jack is dialed then the Panthers will win this game. However, the question remains will Jack continue his hot streak, or will Catholic shut him down?
POSTGAME ANSWER: Last Friday, the Panthers did not execute the passing attacking they wanted to. Woolbright finished 13-30 for 200 yards, struggling to get a drive going for most of the game. It is safe to say that the Panthers did not carry over their performance in the air from Week 2. The Benton Panthers suffered a tough loss in September 17th and will host the El Dorado Wildcat at home this week. They will need to perform much better as a whole to take this week’s game.
3. Will Benton Panthers continue to dominate the Trenches?
PREGAME THOUGHTS: So far this season, the Panthers have had absolute control of the trenches, particularly on offense. The Panthers have run the ball at will this year rushing for 355 yards through two games. If the Panthers can take control of the trenches and establish the run, this will open up the passing game – and if the passing game is open along with the running game, the Panthers’ offense will be next to unstoppable. So if the Panthers gain supremacy of the trenches, their offense can put up big-time points.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers have had their struggles and their successes. In the first half of the Sylvan Hills game, the Panthers struggled to stop the run, however, in the second half, the Panthers were able to mostly stop the run. The question remains will the Panthers step up and command the trenches, or will Catholic get the better of them?
POSTGAME ANSWER: The battle in the trenches was clearly won by the Catholic Rockets. Catholic’s run game was on the next level as junior Dominic Keeton was able to have 22 carries and 129 rushing yards while Benton as a team was only able to rush for 101 yards. Catholic just outplayed Benton as they were able to create gaps and run right through the Panthers. The Panthers were unable to create running lanes and didn’t give Woolbright time to throw the ball down the field. The Panthers need to fix these issues to compete this week with the defending State Champions, El Dorado.
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This is Benton Panthers sports coverage, with writing and photography by Benton High School students. Visit their home page at www.mysaline.com/benton-panthers-sports. Writers are Devon Hunt, Jack Woolbright, Whit Warford & Bentley Stamper.