WEEK 8 PREVIEW: Benton (5-2)(3-1) at Murphysboro (1-6)(1-3)

by Steve Dunford

This high school football season has flown by.  It seems impossible that week eight is coming up.

The Benton Rangers 5-2 on the year and 3-1 on the Southern Illinois River to River, Ohio Division, will be travelling to Doc Bencini Field to take on the Murphysboro Red Devils.

Murpry Comes in to tonight’s game with a 1-6 record, and 1-3 in the conference.  Their only win was against Massac County who they defeated 42-20.  They had a heartbreaking loss to West Frankfort 42-36 in overtime.  They lost another heartbreaker to Harrisburg last week 17-14 on a last second field goal.

Here is what Benton coach Bob Pankey had to say about the Red Devils,  “Murphy is playing a lot of young guys. They are athletic but inexperienced. They do have the ability to make big plays. Their style of offense incorporates lots of motion and misdirection, so we have to play defense with disciplined eyes and be assignment-sound.”

Bailey Hopson, along with Cade Thomas, one of Hamilton Page’s favorite targets throughout the season.

Murphysboro Coach Gary Carter had this to say about the matchup with the Rangers.  “Benton is good at what they do on offense. The QB can throw and run and the spread formations makes it even more difficult to defend. The receivers from Benton do a nice job with their routes and catch the ball well. Defensively, I am impressed with their linebackers especially the Pankey kid, he is a good football player. We will have to play well to have a chance to win.

Jamarr McZeke  can scramble out of the pocket.  The start against WF was either his first or second start.  He liked hooking up Jordan Haskins on that drive against the Redbirds that tied the game up in the closing seconds,  Haskins also ran back the 95 yard fumble in the closing seconds and had an interception.

Braden Caldwell is good both sides of the ball, and shows some senior leadership to this young team.   Sophmore Zane Caraway will be one of the best running backs in the Ohio his senior year.  He is one of the top ones already.  Another sophomore Jake Hoppendstedt, will be a good one as well, and is a significant contributor for the Red Devils.

Benton will have a big advantage on the line.  Offensively, Hamilton Page will have a lot of time to pass.  He could hit 200 yards.  Defensively, the linebacker corps of the Rangers could cause McZeke some problems.

I thought the linebacker corps for Benton and Harrisburg are comparable.  McZeke was 1-5 with two interceptions against Harrisburg.  However Murphy picked up 287 yards on the ground.

This is a must win for the Rangers tonight.  They will not have enough playoff points to get in at 5-4.  It is going to be a war down at A-J next week.

I am going with the Rangers by 20.  This game has the potential to be a shootout.  It is a great atmosphere for High School football and I would encourage you to make the trip down there tonight.


Ranger Stats


Story of the Murphysboro-Harrisburg Game from the Harrisburg Register





Week 8 Southern Illinois River to River- Ohio schedule and playoff outlook

by Steve Dunford

Week 8 Schedule

Benton (5-2)(3-1) at Murphysboro (1-6)(1-3)

Massac County (0-7)(0-4) at West Frankfort (4-3)(2-2)

Harrisburg (4-3)(2-2) at Herrin (6-1)(4-0)

Playoff Outlook


Herrin (6-1)  – The Tigers have cruised through the SIRR-Ohio field and have not been tested.  They should beat the Harrisburg Bulldogs tomorrow night.  It is senior night at the Graveyard II.  The Tigers will go to Breese Central on Week 9.  The Cougars has snuck up on the Tigers in the past.  Benton, West Frankfort and Harrisburg will turn into big Tiger fans, hoping for another playoff point.

On The Bubble

Benton (5-2)  –  The Rangers might have the best record of the three but they could be the most vulnerable.  The Murphy game is a must win, however I think the Rangers will be favorites. They have 28 playoff points right now.  It will be an uphill battle going to A-J on Week 9.  If they happen to get upset tomorrow night, they will be big Harrisburg Bulldog, West Frankfort, and praying that Murphysboro could turn into spoilers against the DuQuoin Indians.  A win tomorrow night and Benton will breathe easier.  Benton is 4A by eight students.  There is an outside chance they could be bumped down to 3A.

West Frankfort (4-3) –  Of the three on the bubble, West Frankfort has the easiest schedule.  They will take care of Massac County on Senior Night, and they travel to Nashville on Week 9 as the favorites.  The Redbirds in the playoff conversation again this year is great for the program, basically in a rebuilding year.

Harrisburg (4-3) –  It would be one of the upsets of the year if they beat Herrin tomorrow night.  They should beat Carbondale in Week 9.   Their tough schedule should help them pick up a lot of playoff points in week 9, so they should get in at 5-4.  If Fairfield, S-V-W-W or Anna Jonesboro go undefeated, they would be likely first round opponents, however the state is sliced up.  The Bulldogs are listed as 3A, but there is a chance they could be bumped up to 4A.



Hamilton Page up for WSIL-TV/Banterra Player of the Week


For the third time this season,  Benton QB Hamilton Page is in the running for WSIL-TV-Banterra player of the week.  Page, had another 200+ yard passing game against Massac County last week.

Previous winners from Franklin County have been West Frankfort running back Madison Allen, and S-V-W-W fullback Peyton Rock.

Voting ends at midnight tonight.

Links to Week 7 football stories involving Franklin County Schools

Benton 53 Massac County 13

Link to the story from Rick Hayes – Benton  News


Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn 62 Hamilton County 34

Link to the story from Richard Blakley – Benton News


Johnston City 54 Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton 0

Link to the story from Jimmy Dean – Benton News


Herrin 52  West Frankfort 6

Link to the story from Dave Broy – westfrankfortsports.com


Rangers move to 4-2 on the season with a 35-28 win over the Harrisburg Bulldogs

by Steve Dunford

BENTON, IL –  Hamilton Page passed for 278 yards for three touchdowns and one rushing touchdown as the Benton Rangers hold on to a 35-28 victory over the Harrisburg Bulldogs last night at Tabor Field.

Division one prospect Jordan Bartok played on both sides of the ball for Harrisburg last night, as the big fullback/linebacker racked up 173 yards.  Last week he just played defense against Massac County.

Benton put their first points  the board in the first quarter as Page hit Bailey Hopson for a 28 yard touchdown pass.  The extra point by Ian McMahon was good to put Benton up 7-0.  Later in the quarter Page then finds Cade Thomas for a four yard pass the extra point was not good, and after one quarter it was Benton 13 Harrisburg 0

In the second quarter, Page rushes it in from 13 yards and the extra point failed and at the half it was Benton 19 Harrisburg 0.

Bartok puts the Bulldogs on the scoreboard in the third quarter with a 13 yard run.  The extra point was good and the score was 19-7 Benton.  Later in the quarter Page finds Thomas again for a 33 yard pass.  Page then finds Hopson in the end zone for the two point conversion to put Benton up 27-7.  Then, sophomore running back Carl Russ, who I am very impressed with runs a  68 yard run.   He tallied up 109 yards on the night for the Bulldogs.  The extra point was good, and at the end of three quarters it was Benton 27 Harrisburg 14.

Then a couple of sophomores hook up for the Bulldogs, QB Isaac Crabb hits Russ with a 50 yard TD pass, the extra point was good to cut into Benton’s lead of 27-21.  Ty Gordon comes right back with a 77 kickoff return.  Page finds Thomas again in the end zone to give Benton a 35-21 lead.  Late in the ball game Bartok rushes it in from three, the extra point was good to give Benton a 35-28 victory.

The Rangers improve to 4-2 on the season and are in a two way tie for second in the SIRR Ohio with West Frankfort who beat Murphysboro last night 44-28 in overtime. They currently sit at 24 playoff points, in addition to WF’s win, Herrin, Carterville, and A-J’s win gave them four additional points last night.

Harrisburg picks up close to six.  I have them sitting at 26.8  Along with Benton and West Frankfort,  victories by Booneville IN, Herrin, Carbondale, and DuQuoin, if I have how the IHSA weighs Booneville’s victories right.  Indiana plays a 10 week high school schedule.

Last nights victory by the Rangers puts them in much better shape for playoff aspirations.  With hosting winless Massac Co, next week, and having a look at Murphysboro last night,  I see Benton as the heavy favorites in the next two weeks.

It is very possible on week nine, the Rangers could be facing an Anna-Jonesboro team that will come into the game undefeated.  There are a lot of good running backs in Southern Illinois this year, and I think Jase Turner is the cream of the crop.  Hopefully WPSD-TV will pick it up as one of their Gridiron Glory games.

Link to the box score and stats


Link to other media sources

Rick Hayes – Benton Evening News


WSIL-TV Sports Extra (5:40-6:40)









Week Six High School Scoreboard

Black Diamond

(6-0)  *Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn 20  Chester 6 (3-3)

(5-1)   *Eldorado 54  Christopher-Zeigler Royalton 6 (0-6)

 (6-0)  *Fairfield 50  Edwards County 0 (2-4)

(3-3)  Carmi-White County 44  Johnston City 14 (1-5)

Hamilton County (0-5) at Vienna-Goreville (3-2)

Southern Illinois River to River Ohio

(4-2)(2-1)  West Frankfort 44  Murphysboro 38 OT (1-5)(1-2)

(4-2)(2-1)  Benton 35  Harrisburg 28 (3-3)(1-2)

(5-1)(3-0)    Herrin 49  Massac County 0

Southern Illinois River to River Mississippi

(6-0)(3-0)  *Anna Jonesboro 35  Pinckneyville 0 (0-6)(0-3)

(4-2)(2-1)  Carterville 54  Nashville 21 (3-3)(1-2)

(5-1)(2-1)  DuQuoin  55  Sparta 20 (1-5)(1-2)

South Seven

(5-1)(2-1)  Belleville Altoff 32  Marion 28  (3-3)(2-1)

(5-1)(3-0)  Centralia 41  Cahokia 30 (2-4)(1-2)

(2-4)(1-2)  Carbondale 41  Mt. Vernon 8 (0-6)(0-3)

*Clinched playoff spot

Week Six Preview: Harrisburg (3-2)(1-1) at Benton (3-2)(1-1)

by Steve Dunford

Benton football players and cheerleaders visit a BGS classroom during homecoming week.

Both teams enter tonight with identical record.  Benton is coming off a big 47-14 victory over West Frankfort.  Harrisburg  went down to Metropolis and beat Massac County 34-14 without their two top running backs.

I talked to Bulldog coach Gabe Angelly this afternoon.  He said that Hunter Smith is out for the season with a torn ACL.  Division 1 prospect Jordan Bartok played defensively against Massac, but not on offense.

I asked Coach Angelly what the keys of the game will be against the Rangers and he said. “How well we contain number 10 (Benton QB Hamilton Page) will be the key.  His passing game is at a new level.  He put on a clinic against West Frankfort.”

When I watched Harrisburg in game one against Mt. Carmel on film, one thing that stuck out was that Mt. Carmel had to go to the air to move the ball.  As far as when they played West Frankfort, all I can say was it was a different team that played down at Harrisburg than showed up at Johnson Field last Saturday.

Here is one thing that I noticed when West Frankfort played down at Harrisburg.  When they had to go to the air, they were able to execute.

Hamilton Page is going to cause the Bulldogs some problems.  They are not as strong in the secondary as they are at the linebacker position.  I would be one bit surprised if he passes for over 300+ again tonight.  I can also see the Ranger linebacker corps led by Blaine Pankey, causing QB Isaac Crabb some problems as well if he has to roll out of the pocket.

Bartok is going to be limited, but he is key to playing the grind it out style of Harrisburg football.   I say how much he is able to answer the bell will be a huge factor.

I am going with the Rangers by seven.  It seems historically Harrisburg has the Rangers number over the years.  The more the game gets in a shootout, the more it is to the Rangers advantage.

This game will have potential playoff implications.   Tonight’s game could go along way in determining whether each team will be 6-3 or 5-4 on the season.  Harrisburg still has to face Herrin.  Benton will have Anna-Jonesboro staring down their necks on Week 9.  I would not be one bit surprised if the Wildcats will be 8-0 coming into that game.   Harrisburg will face the Carbondale Terriers which has struggled.

Both teams will be in decent shape if they are 5-4.  What will hurt the Rangers is the strong possibility of only getting one point from Pinckneyville and Sparta combined.  Carterville will help Benton.  DuQuoin, Mt. Carmel and Booneville IN will help Harrisburg.

We are in the homestretch of the 2017 season which seems to have flown by.



Week 6 High School Football Schedule

Black Diamond

Eldorado (4-1) at Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton (0-5)

Chester (3-2) at Sesser-Valier-Waltonville Woodlawn (5-0)*

Edwards County (2-3) at Fairfield (5-0)*

Johnsotn City (1-4) at Carmi-White County (2-3)

Hamilton County (0-5) at Vienna-Goreville (3-2)  Saturday 1:00 p.m.

Southern Illinois River to River Ohio

Harrisburg (3-2)(1-1) at Benton (3-2)(1-1)

West Frankfort (3-2)(1-1)  at Murphysboro (1-4)(1-1)

Herrin (4-1)(2-0)  at Massac County (0-5)(0-2)

Southern Illinois River to River Mississippi

Anna-Jonesboro (5-0)(2-0) at Pinckneyville (0-5)(0-2)

Nashville (2-3)(1-1) at Carterville (3-2)(1-1)

DuQuoin (4-1)(1-1) at Sparta (1-4)(1-1)

South Seven

Belleville Altoff (4-1)(1-1) at Marion (3-2)(2-0)

Cahokia (2-3)(1-1) at Centralia (4-1)(2-0)

Carbondale (1-4)(0-2) at Mt. Vernon (0-5)(0-2)

Devils FB Peyton Rock: WSIL/Banterra Bank Player of the week.

by Steve Dunford

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT – SVWW Coach John Shadowens, WSIL Sports Director Darren Kinnard, Rock and a representative from Banterra Bank (From Darren Kinnard’s Twitter feed)

SESSER, IL –  Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn’s FB/LB Peyton Rock edged out Benton QB Hamilton Page for the WSIL/Banterra Bank player of the week by an approximate total of 8,300 to 7,200 votes.  Herrin Tiger RB Jase Gosha finished third in the voting.

Rock Rushed for 152 yards on five carries, scoring two touchdowns in a 66-0 rout of CZR last Friday night.  He scored a third touchdown on a pick six.

Page passed for 334 yards, scored four rushing touchdowns, passing for two as the Rangers defeated the West Frankfort Redbirds 47-14.

The Devils (5-0) host Chester this evening, and the Rangers (3-2)(1-1)  host the Harrisburg Bulldogs.

Prep Golf: Benton, Nashville claim SIRR titles



CARBONDALE, IL – (Harrisburg Register.  Please Click on the link above for the full story.  Here is an excerpt below.)

At the Southern Illinois River-To-River Conference Golf Tournament Tuesday, Benton won the Ohio, while Nashville cruised to the Mississippi Division title.

The Rangers’ 309, was better than a 324 by Herrin, who just edged out Massac County, who shot a 327. West Frankfort took fourth in the Ohio with a 336.

Benton’s Brendan Luster, Herrin’s Drew Ringle and Massac County’s Brock Willmes all had the low score of the tournament as the three shot a 75.

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News