Whit Warford asks 3 questions before the game and answers them afterward. This time it’s the Benton Panthers VS El Dorado Wildcats at The Palace on Friday September 23rd.
This week Benton welcomes another tough opponent in the 6A East, the defending state champions and senior-laden El Dorado Wildcats, to the Palace.
All 3 questions were answered with a big YES, this week!
1. Can the Panthers contain El Dorado’s speedy receivers?
Pregame Thoughts: In last week’s game against Catholic, the Panthers struggled again, allowing 288 yards and two touchdown passes. The Panthers will need to correct these issues in practice in order to face a strong El Dorado aerial attack.
In three games this year, El Dorado (SR) QB Kolin Parker has thrown for 433 yards, and their top two receivers, (SR) Torenzo Dunn and (SR) Deandra Burns, Jr. combine for 406 yards and 6 touchdowns on the year. Burns also has elite speed and will always be a problem if the ball is in his hands.
The question remains: Will the Panthers’ secondary step up and play the level of football they are capable of?
Postgame answer: Overall the Panthers finished strong, containing El Dorado’s wide receiving core. The Panthers only allowed 7 points in the second half. The Panthers allowed 329 receiving yards, however, the bulk of these yards were in the first half. The Panthers had a few issues in the first half with covering, Burns (3), but cleaned it up in the second half. The Panthers will have to continue to get better in the future, but for now, the Panthers can celebrate a big 6A East win.
2. Can the Panthers successfully establish the passing game?
Pregame Thoughts: In last week’s outing against the Rockets, the Panthers really struggled to establish the passing game. Quarterback Jack Woolbright (6) and Cline Hooten (12) combined for 200 passing yards with no touchdowns. Many of these passing yards were off screen plays and other short passes.
The Panthers are going to really need to step it up if they hope to beat the defending state champions who only allowed 14 passing yards last week. It’s safe to say the Panthers have a lot of work ahead of them if they hope to beat the Wildcats.
Everyone knows the Panthers can run the ball, but the question remains: Can the passing game set up the run game?
Postgame Answers: The passing game really seemed to open up for the Panthers. As SR Jack Woolbright (6) threw for 242 yards and 2 TDs, also catching a 24 yard TD pass on a trick play. Woolbright had plenty of time in the game and was never sacked. The Panthers’ passing game looked to evolve throughout the game, the Panthers started throwing the ball down the field and stretching the defense. Continuing this will be key so that people will stop stacking the box against the Panther strong running game.
3. Can the Panthers offensive line bounce back from last week’s performance?
Pregame Thoughts: Last week the Panthers offensive line was not playing up to par. Although the Panthers did not allow any sacks and SR QB Jack Woolbright was not overly pressured, the Panthers could not get the run game going. The Panthers only rushed for 101 yards last week, while in their last two outings, they rushed for 176 and 179 yards.
However, the good news for the Panthers is that the Wildcats do not have the best run defense. Through two games the Wildcats have allowed a total of 364 rushing yards. If the Panthers pounce on this opportunity, they can get their run game rolling.
When the Panthers offensive unit is clicking, it can be dangerous. The question remains: Can the Panthers offensive line be physical and open running lanes for their dangerous running backs?
Postgame Answer: This week’s performance for the offensive line was amazing to watch. The O-line continued their streak of not giving up a sack this season and allowed the Panther running game to run for 209 yards. The Panther’s physical performance in the trenches this week gave them the edge against El Dorado and it showed as the Panthers came out with a win.
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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.