In one of the most highly anticipated matchups in the state this season, the #1, 9-0 Bentonville Tigers travel south on Highway 540 to take on the #3, 8-1 Har-Ber Wildcats.
Last season, Bentonville dealt Har-Ber their only loss of the season in week ten, winning 17-0 at
When Bentonville lost three year starter Pearson Gean earlier in the season, some doubts
arose as to whether or not that could be their possible downfall. Junior Dallas Hardison has
answered those doubts, however, and has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the
state this season with a completion percentage over 70% and multiple games with over 300
Wildcat quarterback Ryan Luther is a two year starter. This year, Luther's role in the offense has
increased as the Wildcats have thrown the ball more than they did last year. Luther has thrown
for 2,250 yards this season and has a 28-3 touchdown to interception ratio. He also has the
ability to hurt a defense with his legs, leading the Wildcats in rushing touchdowns.
Bentonville entered the season with the plan to feature two sophomore running backs and it has pay dividends so far. Tearis Wallace has been absolutely stellar this season, shredding almost
any defense he has faced and going for 280 yards earlier in the season in the victory over
Fayetteville. Garrett Kaufmann works primarily as a short yardage and goal line back and has
been very proficient.
Gordon Welch is Har-Ber's feature back and has 739 yards rushing this season with 4
touchdowns. Sophomore Tucker Lee also sees playing time and has average 8.8 yards a
carry this season, finding the end zone 7 times. Ask any Har-Ber coach about fullback Jeremy
Vongvone and they will call him one of the most unsung players in the conference. The senior is
a very good blocker and very lethal catching passes, with 20 catches and 5 touchdowns on the
The Tigers have three very good receivers in Drew Edwards, Austin Molitor, and Desmond
Smith. Edwards primarily aligns in the slot and has breakaway speed while Molitor uses his
height (6'5'') to excel on deep balls. Smith is more of an all around receiver and is having a
breakout junior season. Tight end Tyler McGarrah provides the Tigers with another big bodied
Against anyone else in the state, the Tigers would be in a class of their own at the receiver
position. Against Har-Ber though, the Tigers find a match. Har-Ber has the largest group of
receivers in the state with 6'4'' Michael Fine leading the way. The junior has caught 27 passes
this season for 9 touchdowns and averaged an amazing 28 yards per catch. Junior Evan
Johnson has caught 19 passes this year this year for 4 touchdowns and is dangerous after the
catch. Senior Brett Stith is another deep threat for the Wildcats, averaging almost 28 yards per
catch. Senior Shawn Sayarinh provides the Wildcats a lethal screen game.
The Tigers offensive line is anchored by senior Marcus Dannenhaur, a three year starter and
Razorback commit. Senior Emerson DePeel is a college prospect and has been very good so
far this season. Senior Chris Resendez and Al Whiting also start.
The Wildcat is anchored by a Razorback commit as well with Brey Cook dominating people
all year long at his right tackle spot. Three year starter Daniel Garcia starts at left tackle and is
very fundamentally sound. Seniors Sam Engel and James Johnson start at guard while Chris
Wooden sees significant playing time. Trevor Woodard starts at center.
Bentonville plays a host of lineman and lead by senior nose guard Chase Gogel, one of the best
defensive linemen in the conference. DePeel sees action in the interior and Scott Vargas rotates
in. Omar Fraire provides a speed rush off the edge and seniors Sean Miller and Jeremy Soldate
see playing time, as well as a host of sophomores.
The Wildcat defensive line is anchored by senior Paco Deluna, who is gap plugging nose guard.
End Granger Riggins has five sacks on the season while Les Harrison is very good in run
support. Senior Forrest Deleeuw also sees playing time.
The Tigers are led by junior Chris Scroggins at outside linebacker. The junior excels at tackling
in space. Senior Morgan Harris sees time at both outside and inside linebacker while junior
Chris McKane anchors the middle. DeMarcus Murphy starts at the other outside linebacker
position and has had a breakout junior season.
The Wildcats are led by three senior linebackers, Hunter Kissinger, Preston Cash, and Matt
Davis. Kissinger is a college prospect and has great size, while Cash excels in pass rushing.
Davis leads the team in tackles with over 9 a game. Junior James Kearney is the fourth starter.
Bentonville has the best cover corner in the conference in senior Dakota Baggett. Seniors Ryan
Ward and Daulton Terry play at the other cornerback position. Senior Dallas Coleman starts at
one safety spot while junior John Hembry plays at the other safety spot.
The one consistency in the Wildcat secondary this season has been the play of safety Drew
Lawson. The safety averages over 7 tackles a game. A host of players play at the other safety
spot, including junior Preston Pianalto, Will McKay, and Luke Hansen. Seniors Riley Gibson and
Ryan Miller start at cornerback, while Evan Johnson sees extensive playing time.
Senior kicker Chad Levin consistently puts the ball in the end zone and is accurate within 35
yards. Austin Molitor averaged almost 43 yards a punt last season. Drew Edwards is a very
dangerous kick returner.
Junior Melvin Gonzalez kicks and punts and has one field goal on the season. Ryan Luther also
punts some. The Wildcats have two dangerous kick returners in Shawn Sayarinh and Branden
On paper, it appears to be a very even match up. Two very explosive offenses and decent
defenses led by players who know what it takes to win a state championship. Home field
though, belongs to the Wildcats and I think they will come out ahead and earn the 1 seed for the
Brandon's Projected Score: Har-Ber 42 Bentonville 39
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