My dad and I both watch as many Benton Panthers home games as we can.
Why? We both graduated from Benton and high school football is still a big deal here in Arkansas. Besides, I do enjoy going and hanging out with my dad and that’s a great excuse to do it. The most important thing about those games – as far as I’m concerned – is that I watch them with dad.
I’m glad that’s my priority because the Panthers are flat out terrible this year. How terrible? We saw the first home game and the fourth game of the season on Friday and Benton absolutely got crushed by Pine Bluff. In fact, the Panthers were so small that it looked like Pine Bluff was facing a junior high team.
Here in Arkansas, there’s such a thing as the mercy rule. When a team gets 35 points ahead, then the officials just let the clock run and stop it for nothing but time outs. We learned on Friday that the mercy rule doesn’t apply until the third quarter as Pine Bluff had run up enough points by the first part of the second quarter to invoke the rule.
The Panthers wound up losing 42-7 and that’s only because Pine Bluff pulled their starters in the second half (Benton couldn’t even move the ball well against the second string). That, folks, is some bad football.
In addition to the Pine Bluff game, Benton has been slaughtered by Bryant, humiliated by Catholic High and embarrassed by Conway. So far this season, the Panthers have scored 28 points while their opponents have scored 168.
Yes, this is the first year for new head coach Steve Quinn and a bad season was expected. However, Benton is severely lacking in the talent department and there is a reason for that.
Benton wins championships in baseball and golf and is even competitive in track and field, tennis, soccer and basketball (well, they do well from time to time in basketball, at least). It seems, then, that there are a lot of sports that appeal to students so it’s no wonder you just don’t see as many kids trying out to play football these days.
After all, players feel like they’ve been in a major car wreck after a football game. That’s not true in baseball. I can’t say I’m surprised at the lack of talent, then.
Still, it just kills me to watch the Panthers get slaughtered. A lot of my dad’s classmates feel the same way, it seems.
Last night, a lot of members of the Class of 1960 attended the game. I sat up in their section with dad and we were the only ones left at the end of the game.
“They’re losing faith, dad!” I yelled as each of his classmates left.
It’s hard to watch. I hope the team is better next year, but who knows?