Big games on tap in Week 9; Ben­ton, Glen Rose win ti­tle

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS -

Week 8 had ex­treme fire­works with Ben­ton de­feat­ing the twotime reign­ing 6A cham­pion Green­wood on a sloppy night in Sa­line County.

The vic­tory pro­pelled the Pan­thers into the driver’s seat the rest of the reg­u­lar sea­son as they now con­trol their own destiny.

Bryant and Glen Rose also were vic­to­ri­ous while Baux­ite and Har­mony Grove slipped in the 7-4A.

Nonethe­less, Week 9 should be full of more hero­ics as the reg­u­lar sea­son winds down.

Here are my picks for Week 9:

Bryant (8-0, 5-0) vs. North Lit­tle Rock (5-3,

4-1)

At the end of last sea­son, this game was prob­a­bly one of the most an­tic­i­pated of 2019. How­ever, these teams are two to­tal op­po­sites from a year ago.

Bryant is close to be­ing a top-10 squad in the na­tion while clearly be­ing the No. 1 team in Arkansas — by far.

North Lit­tle Rock has bat­tled a num­ber of plagu­ing is­sues, from in­juries to sus­pen­sions.

Bryant has not played a non-mercy rule con­test this sea­son and I don’t think that changes this week, un­for­tu­nately.

I wrote an opin­ion piece last week on how this year’s Hor­nets are “bor­ing” to watch be­cause they are so good.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see this team lose at all — plus, that is not go­ing to hap­pen this year.

I am sim­ply stat­ing that this team is ex­tremely good. Pos­si­bly best ever to suit up in Sa­line County.

Bryant will have its way with NLR on Fri­day. I think it is also an­other blowout. Take Big Blue.

Hor­nets win 49-14.

Ben­ton (5-3, 5-0) at Lake Hamil­ton (8-0, 5-0)

This is the game of the week and of the sea­son for Ben­ton.

The Pan­thers made me eat crow last week — which with the right sauce, wasn’t too bad.

I am proud of this team in the fight it has showed through early is­sues and in­juries.

Now is the time, how­ever, the Pan­thers have to be on their A-game.

Lake Hamil­ton has surged this year, all the way to the top of the 6A West stand­ings. This week will likely de­cide the con­fer­ence cham

pion, some­thing Ben­ton has longed for.

Look for a bal­anced at­tack from the Pan­thers with D’an­thony Harper hav­ing a strong night on the ground. This kid is the real deal.

Also, the pass­ing game should be strong, but turnovers have to be at a min­i­mum.

Ben­ton’s de­fense will have to shut­down the Wolves and con­trol the clock as the home team has proved it can score with the best of them.

Even on the road, I like this mo­ti­vated Ben­ton team.

Bet on the Pan­thers in Week 9.

Ben­ton wins 38-32.

Baux­ite (6-2, 4-1) vs. Arkadel­phia (7-1, 4-1) The Baux­ite Min­ers suf­fered a loss in Week 7, los­ing on the road at Robin­son. This week — and next — is no eas­ier as the de­fend­ing 4A state cham­pi­ons come to town.

Arkadel­phia is strong, fast, pow­er­ful, etc. Baux­ite is good on de­fense, but its of­fense is a clock-con­trol­ling ef­fort for the most part as the pass­ing game has all but been elim­i­nated the past sev­eral weeks.

If the Min­ers can con­trol the clock, limit turnovers and get points on the board more times than not, this could be an up­set in the mak­ing.

But Arkadel­phia is go­ing to be ex­tremely tough to

over­come.

I think it is a close call, but I like the Badgers 34-24.

Har­mony Grove (3-5, 1-4) vs. Foun­tain Lake

(1-7, 0-5)

The Har­mony Grove Car­di­nals have cooled off the past few weeks, but have played good foot­ball, for the most part.

Week 9 sets them up with a cru­cial and very winnable game against Foun­tain Lake.

The Co­bras have had strug­gles since early sum­mer.

This team is just not very good, but the num­bers are so low it would be hard to be com­pet­i­tive.

Take the Car­di­nals in this one.

Har­mony Grove 24, Foun­tain Lake 18.

Glen Rose (6-2, 5-0) at

Atkins (7-1, 5-0)

I should pick a co-game of the week as Glen Rose and Atkins will en­gage in a fierce bat­tle that will de­cide the 4-3A cham­pion.

Both are un­de­feated in league play. Both have

pow­er­ful of­fenses and good de­fenses and both are hun­gry for home-field ad­van­tage in the play­offs.

Atkins may have the early ad­van­tage as the game is at its place, but the Beavers play well on the road and the fans travel strong.

I look for a back-and-forth af­fair, but I still like Glen Rose in this one, if the big play is elim­i­nated.

Beavers win nar­rowly, 33-30.

JOSH BRIGGS

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