Airline at Benton: ‘Do whatever it takes’

ON THE RUN – Greg Manning (3) has rushed for 235 yards and five touchdowns for Benton, which plays host to Airline in a big rivalry game tonight. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports)

By TEDDY ALLEN, Journal Sports

Airline was 1-9 last year. Airline is much better this year—but 0-3.

The Vikings know that. Not easy to swallow. Too many turnovers. Poor tackling.

Do that better and who knows?

Benton? 1-2. Special teams mistakes. Gave up two kickoff returns for touchdown in back-to-back games. Pass coverage problems. Like Airline, poor tackling. Fix that and who knows?

Some answers will come tonight when Airline and Benton meet at Mason-Newman Field in Tiger Stadium. An argument could be made that this is the best matchup tonight in the state of teams with a combined 1-5 record.

Benton’s Tigers are coming off a heartbreaking loss in New Orleans in a game they led by 18 points to Newman, 54-52. Yes, that many points.

“Mentally, I think we’re in a good place (after the loss),” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said. “Still some fatigue. We’re not the freshest we’ve ever been. We have a lot of guys who played a lot of snaps.”

Cramping was usually a problem for the other team, not for Benton. Friday night in New Orleans was a different story. But a match with Airline suddenly clears the cramping air.

“It’s a big rivalry game,” Moore said. “We have to do whatever it takes to win this game. Airline is not a typical 0-3 team. If it were a team that nobody thought was good, our kids would be in a different mindset. But this is Airline. It’s a lot easier to be focused.”

“If we eliminate turnovers and if we tackle, we’ll be fine; I don’t worry that much about intensity if we do that,” Airline head coach Justin Scogin said. “We’re 0-3, but the good thing is they understand what they’re doing wrong. They’ve stayed true to who I thought they were. I know they’ve never gotten to the point where they’ve said, ‘Man, we’re giving up.’ They’ve continued to compete.

“We’re tired of people telling us how good of an 0-3 team we are,” he said. “Our kids understand; they get it. This has been the best part—nobody’s giving up. It’s never fun to lose, but the process of the whole thing, learning how to win, is fun.” 

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Airline (0-3) at Benton (1-2), Mason-Newman Field at Tiger Stadium

Series: Airline 2-1

Last year: Benton 28, Airline 7

Last week: Airline lost to Northwood 35-28; Benton lost to Newman 54-52

Rankings: Benton is No. 5 in SBJ poll

Radio: Benton (The Light, 92.1 FM)

Notable: Tigers receiver Pearce Russell ranks third Caddo-Bossier with 18 receptions and 351 receiving yards … Benton is coming off a wild 54-52 loss to quarterback Arch Manning and Newman in Week 3 … Benton defeated Airline 28-7 last season and lost 31-28 in 2020.

Natchitoches Central (1-2) at Southwood (2-1), Lee Hedges Stadium

Series: Natchitoches 22-9

Last year: Natchitoches 37-6

Last week: Natchitoches lost to ASH 54-6; Southwood lost to Carroll 40-12

Rankings: none

Radio: Natchitoches (95.9 Kix Classic Country;

Notable: After starting the season 2-0 for the first time since 2006, the Cowboys fell to Carroll 40-12 in Week 3 … They hope to get back in the win column when they open District I-5A play against the Chiefs … Southwood coach Jesse Esters said the Cowboys will regroup and get back to the basics … “We had become distracted with the two wins that we didn’t perform well,” Esters said of last week’s loss … The Cowboys will be without three players tonight – workhorse running back Melvin Coleman, safety Jathon Skinner, and left guard Jayden Stevenson.

Calvary (1-2) at Wossman (2-1)

Series: First meeting

Last year: Did not play

Last week: Calvary lost to Byrd 14-7; Wossman beat Mentorship 67-0

Rankings: Calvary is No. 8 in LSWA 2A poll, No. 4 in SBJ poll

Radio: Calvary (Promise 90.7 FM)

Notable: So much for that quarterback competition. This week, Calvary Baptist Academy quarterback Bryce Carpenter, who had shared time with Abram Wardell, withdrew from the school and enrolled at Loyola College Prep … on the season, Carpenter has completed 39 percent of his passes (11-for-28) for one touchdown and one interception. He also added 29 rushing yards and a score. Wardell is 11-for-16 passing for three touchdowns and an interception … Barring a special reprieve, Carpenter won’t be eligible to play until Week 4 of his senior season.