BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Perhaps the state’s best high school football game this weekend will happen Friday night in Bentonville.
Cabot (9-2) will visit Bentonville (10-1) in a 7 p.m. that will find the victor advancing to the Class 7A state championship game.
Tigers head coach Jody Grant is happy to have the clash at home.
“We are very good on our field and I always think it is better to play on your own field the day after Thanksgiving then to get on a bus and drive for three hours,” Grant said. “But what it boils down to is just execution on whatever field you happen to be playing on.”
The homestanding Tigers have who nine straight games since a 44-35 loss to Conway on Sept. 2 and are fresh off a 45-0 humbling of North Little Rock.
The visiting Panthers’ last loss this season was a 24-10 one on Oct. 21 to four-time defending state champion Bryant, who hosts Conway in the other Class 7A semifinal.
“Obviously this weekend is a great challenge,” Grant said. “Cabot, to me, is a really, really good football team in every aspect of the game. They have been toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the state, beating Conway, playing Bryant really good and clean and beat (Bentonville) West pretty sound (41-21) last week.”
“Obviously our kids recognize that it is a really good team. We have our work cut out for us, but we have also been playing really good and truthfully we are playing our best football right now. We just beat a really talented, athletic team pretty handily ourselves so this should be interesting.”
Bentonville is led up front by Arkansas offensive line commit Joey Su’a (6-5, 305).
“Joey is doing really good,” Grant said. “When the lights come on and we need him to perform , he is doing it for us. To be honest with you, I think back to last year and this year and I think how fortunate our program is to have a young man like that. He is a great kid from a great family and I hope we get to playing a few more games with him.”
Cabot quarterback Abe Owen helps lead an offense that rushed 52 times for 354 yards in last week’s win.
“They are effective in just about everything,” Grant said. “They like to run the football and are able to do that and eat clock, but they are also very capable of throwing it and they got some guys to get it too.
“They play with a tight end a lot, their receivers are talented and their back is really good, but their quarterback is kind of what gets them going. He’s efficient, but he is also a significant run threat.”
Grant is excited about the play of his defense, who shut out North Little Rock last week and held the Charging Wildcats to nine yards total offense.
“Our defense has been playing really good,” Grant said. “We just had our best game of the year as we held them to just nine total yards. And that was playing everybody on our bench. We let our twos and threes play and all those guys were flying around and playing really well, too. We have been tackling good and covering good.
“And it has not been just this past game. We have played really good in our final regular season game against Bentonville West, who is very, very talented offensively and we thought we held them down. I think our kids are just playing better defensively for us.”
Photo by John D. James