Benton, Parkway set for a game of cat and mouse

AIR RAID: Benton quarterback Gray Walters, one of the top passers in the state, will lead the Tigers against Parkway. (Photo by JOHN PENROD, Journal Sports).

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Benton’s high-flying offense boasts one of the best wide receivers in the state – Pearce Russell. Parkway cornerback Carmaro Mayo and the Panthers’ defense did a heck of a job (allowed just one catch) on another star wideout, Airline’s Daxton Chavez last week.

Seems simple heading into Friday’s 6 p.m. Benton-Parkway throwdown: Have Mayo shadow Russell, who’s hauled in 72 catches for 1,226 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Good luck.

“(Benton head coach) Reynolds (Moore) puts Pearce in a different spot every play so he doesn’t get man coverage,” Parkway head coach Coy Brotherton said.

On the flip side, Moore says Brotherton “does a great job of using formations to lull you to sleep. Sometimes, the formations don’t look like they can give you trouble, but you have to know what they can do out of that.

“You could have all 10 weeks of film on Parkway and they still have something they haven’t shown you. They’ve been holding things for Week 10.”

Sounds like Friday’s 1-5A battle will be a game of cat and mouse.

Benton (6-3, 5-1) boasts the first 1,000-yard rushing/receiving tandem in the state (Greg Manning and Russell). Parkway’s offense is led by running back Jaylan White, the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher who leads the area with 1,351 yards this season.

“He may be the fastest human alive,” Moore said of White. “You have to slow No. 2 down. Like, Pearce, he’s going to get his yards no matter what, but you can’t let him have three or four 80-yard runs.”

Benton enters the regular-season finale with concerns at quarterback. Gray Walters suffered a lower-body injury during last week’s game against Captain Shreve and will be a “game-time decision” Friday.

Walters practiced this week but remains sore.

“We want to beat Parkway, but playoffs are more important,” Moore said. “If Gray is in danger of hurting himself more, we’ll go with Jeffrey (King).

“Ultimately our goal is to be playing Thanksgiving week and beyond. We need everyone healthy to do that.”

Parkway (7-2, 4-2) wants to beat its parish rival and set up postseason fun in South Bossier.

“We’re playing for a home playoff game,” Brotherton said. “If we win we set ourselves up; if we don’t we’re going to be on that bubble. We want to play at home.”

Whether Benton features Walters or King, a wide receiver who’s filled in with six touchdowns and 504 passing yards this year, or a combination of both at quarterback, how the game plays out around Russell could be a determining factor.

“The goal is to make opposing defenses think (our offense) is complicated and make them think there are a thousand different formations,” Moore said. “Coming into the season we felt like Pearce was the best receiver around here and people would try to double him. We knew we had to find ways to make sure he wasn’t in the same spot all the time.

“Pearce wants Mayo on him. One-on-one, Pearce is unguardable.”

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Benton (6-3, 5-1) at Parkway (7-2, 4-2), 6 p.m. 

Where: Preston Crownover Stadium 

Series: Benton 11-4 

Last year: Parkway 30-23 

Last week: Benton beat Captain Shreve 22-21; Parkway lost to Airline 41-20 

Rankings: Benton No. 2 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal poll; Parkway No. 4 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal poll 

LHSAA power rankings: Benton No. 11, Parkway No. 15 Non-Select Division I 

Radio: Benton (The Light 92.1 FM) 

Notables: Tigers ride a five-game win streak as they visit South Bossier. Offensive coordinator Terrence Smith is a Parkway graduate. Outside of the insane 78-71 victory against Haughton, the Benton defense has found something in the second half. It has allowed 28 points or less in four of its past five games … The Tigers have the first 1,000-yard running back (Greg Manning)/receiver (Pearce Russell) combo in the state. Russell has 72 catches for 1,226 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is ranked second in the state in receiving yards, tied for third in receiving touchdowns … Gray Walters is sixth in the state in passing yards with 2,152. Walters has completed 137-of-219 passes and connected on 24 for scores.

Parkway faces a second-straight District 1-5A opponent on a five-game winning streak … Running back Jaylan White has collected 1,351 rushing yards and 14 rushing scores this year. The school’s all-time leading rusher can still reach Parkway’s single-season rushing and career rushing touchdown marks.

Southwood (0-9, 0-6) at Airline (6-3, 6-0) 

Where: M.D. Ray Field at Airline Stadium 

Series: Airline 28-19 

Last year: Airline 36-14 

Last week: Southwood lost to Byrd 58-0; Airline beat Parkway 41-20 

Rankings: Airline No. 1 in Shreveport-Bossier Journal poll 

LHSAA power rankings: Southwood No. 33 Select Division I; Airline No. 6 Non-Select Division I 

Radio: none 

Notables: Tonight’s regular-season finale will bring an end to another tough year for the Cowboys … Southwood, which is riding a 26-game losing streak, had to forfeit the first two games of the season (a 14-12 win over Green Oaks and an 8-0 victory over Woodlawn that, at the time, gave the Cowboys their first 2-0 start since 2006) because of eligibility issues … The Cowboys’ last win came on Nov. 1, 2019 (18-16 over Parkway) … Southwood is coming off a 58-0 loss to Byrd where the Cowboys put up just 6 yards on the ground and 75 in the air … The Cowboys gave up some big plays last week – two 60-plus-yard running touchdowns, a 61-yard kickoff return, and a safety.

Airline didn’t win a district game last year and has earned at least a share of the title going into tonight’s game … SOPH QB Ben Taylor leads area players in passing yardage with 2,543 yards on 185-307 passing with 9 interceptions and 30 TDs … He is second in the state passing yardage leaders as well … Three Vikings are in the Top 10 for reception yards among area receivers: Daxton Chavez is third (47-965-16), Cam Jefferson fourth (47-593-5) and Tre Jackson sixth (39-418-5) … Chavez is sixth in the state in receiving yards and second in touchdowns … Jackson is seventh in rushing yards in the SBJ area with 636 yards and 12 TDs on 100 carries.