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’s Hamilton Page, SVWW’s Peyton Rock, nominated for WSIL Player of the week


Please click on the link above to vote.  Page threw for over 300 yards in Last Satruday’s win against West Frankfort.  Rock scored four touchdowns in the Devil’s win over CZR Friday night.  Herrin running back Jase Gosha is the third choice.

Rangers dominate the Redbirds on their homecoming

by Steve Dunford

WEST FRANKFORT, IL –  My thoughts on this game were if Hamilton Page would pass for 250 yards plus the Benton Rangers would come away with the victory.  In my very unofficial stats he was 26-34 and passed for 323 yards, he also had 63 yards rushing on the afternoon.

FCHS homecoming queen Cali Wright presiding over Yesterday afternoon’s parade

The Rangers took advantage of five West Frankfort turnovers in the first half, and raced to a 28-0 lead at halftime, and went on to defeat the West Frankfort Redbirds this afternoon 47-14 this afternoon at Johnson Field in West Frankfort.  It was the 104th time these two teams have met, and I know it is about even over the years.  Benton has won the last three, and nine out of the last eleven.  It was also homecoming in West Frankfort,

On the first drive of the game the West Frankfort defense came out with some intensity as Benton was held to a six play drive, with Blake Engler picking up a big sack of Page rolling out of the pocket on 4th down and seven.

West Frankfort on the second play of their drive fumbles and gives the ball right back to the Rangers.

On a seven play drive Hamilton Page runs it in from seven yards at the 7:45 mark to put the Rangers on the board.  The extra point from Ian McMahon was good to put the Rangers up 7-0.

WF then gives it right back to Benton on the second play of the drive on another fumble.  The Redbirds get a quick stop.

After the Redbirds get the ball right back their ground game was effective.  On the first play of the drive QB Connor Eaton found Kyle Hammers for a 31 yard pass right off the bat.  That was the only yards the Redbirds would get in the air the rest of the day.  The Redbirds grind it out using their running game in eight more plays to  run out the clock in the first quarter with the score still being 7-0 Benton.

Immediately after the teams change sides, Eaton throws an interception.  A penalty riddled drive that was featured by a 36 yard run by Hamilton Page and the Redbirds take over own downs.

It then looks like WF is in business again with their ground game.  On the fifth play of the drive there is a Redbird fumble and Neal Carlton recovers deep in West Frankfort territory.

The Rangers have a quick three play drive with Page scoring another rushing touchdown with 5:26 to go in the first half.  The kick from McMahon was good to put the Rangers up 14-0.

The second play of the next drive, Connor Eaton was then intercepted  by Ty Gordon.

On a seven play drive Page has another run from five yards around the three minute mark of the first half, McMahon hits the extra point and it is 21-0 Benton.

On the first play of the next West Frankfort possession, Eaton is intercepted by Caleb Pemberton.  Then Page finds Cade Thomas for a 25 yard touchdown pass at the 1:28 mark of the first half.  The kick by McMahon was good and both teams go to the locker room with Benton up 28-0.

On the opening kickoff, Kyle Hammers has an awesome return that puts the Redbirds at the Ranger 15.  Madison Allen scores on a six yard run to get the Redbirds on the board.  The extra point failed and at the 10:44 mark of the third quarter, the score was 28-6, Rangers.

Page goes to the air and finds Joey Craig in the end zone on a very quick four play drive that Benton went to the air on.  The extra point was no good, and at the 9:51 mark of the 3Q the score was 34-6 Benton.

The teams exchange drives at West Frankfort puts together a good drive, Benton and West Frankfort exchange three and outs.

A punt that looked like it was from a Ranger deflection, gives Benton very good field position at the 22.  Blane Pankey rushes it in from the Redbird 18. The Kick from McMahon was good and the Rangers expanded the lead to 41-6 at the 3:45 mark of the third quarter.  It was starting to shape up like things could begin to get very ugly, and continuous clock was coming down the pike.

When the Redbirds get the ball back, Madison Allen rushes in for a 66 yard touchdown run on the third play of the drive.  Brendan Johnson runs in the two point conversion and the Redbirds cut into the huge Ranger lead 41-14.

Early in the 4th quarter, Hamilton Page rushes it in from the 18 to put the Rangers up 47-14, and that was the final on the afternoon.  Both teams began to mix and match starters and subs the rest of the way.

Benton Coach Bob Pankey had this to say about this afternoon’s win, “I can’t say enough about out our kids.  I thought they responded and bounced back well from last  week (the loss against Herrin). This group of seniors has played at a high level and in big games in multiple sports.” 

He also commented how receiver Bailey Hopson came up big for him and how he has improved throughout the year

West Frankfort Coach Brian Beery had this to say about this afternoon’s loss. “We did not execute, it is simple as that. They are a senior led team and they played like seniors.  We are a sophomore and junior led team and we played like sophomores and Juniors. 

Benton and West Frankfort have identical records of 1-1 in the SIRR Ohio, and 3-2 overall.  Benton hosts the Harrisburg Bulldogs on Friday, who were 34-14 winners at Massac County last night.  West Frankfort Travels to Murphysboro on Friday who fell to the Herrin Tigers 42-6 last night.

In the other game this afternoon the Vienna-Goreville Eagles defeated the Edwards County Lions, 19-13.


Benton (3-2)(1-1)                     7     21     13     6   –  47

West Frankfort (3-2)(1-1)      0     0      14     0   –  14

Unofficial Stats


Benton:  Page 26-34  323, G.Gordon 1-2 4.  West Frankfort: Eaton 1-5, 31  2INT


Benton:  Page 14-63, Pankey 6-29, Dunn 2-3.  West Frankfort, Allen 17-142, Eaton 15-58, Cooksey 4-17, Hammers 3-9


Benton:  Craig 5-89, Hopson 7-83, Thomas 5-49, Picklesmeyer 3-39, Stewart 2-35, Pankey 3-24 T. Gordon 1-4.   West Frankfort:  Hammers 1-31

TACKLES:  (assisted or unassisted)

Benton:  Pankey 8, Dunn 8, Carlton 7, Smothers 7,Sanders 3, Pemberton 3, Craig 2, Gordon 1, Stewart 1.  West Frankfort:  Souders 13, Brendan Johnson 10, Allen 7, Engler 6, Forgatch 6, Brock Johnson 5, VanZant 5, Cooper 4, Hammers 2, Kahl 2, Eaton 1, Croslin 1





Turkey Day Game Preview: Benton (2-2)(0-1) at West Frankfort (3-1)(1-0)

by Steve Dunford

The Redbird football team and cheerleaders on their float in the Homecoming Parade. It is traditionally homecoming for the host school in the Benton-West Frankfort game.


The Benton Rangers and the West Frankfort Redbirds will be facing off in their traditional Saturday afternoon game on week five.

I have read several social media posts from both towns, concerned about the heat and the players’ safety Over the last several years, I can only think of one year that is was not blazing hot in this matchup.  It was two years ago, as it was overcast and in the 60’s.

It seems like the game is in the heart of “Indian Summer” in Southern Illinois.  It would take a lot of logistic work, but I think it would be awesome to play the game on Week 8.  There would be a better chance that it would be cooler.  It would also have a playoff feel to it.  It would be extra special if both teams were contending for a SIRR Ohio Division crown.

In the fourth quarter there were kids from both teams puking on the sidelines last year.  There were also a lot of leg cramps from dehydration.  There have been suggestions on social media to play the game tonight.  The problem would be getting officials on short notice.

The Rangers are coming off of a 52-22 loss to the Herrin Tigers.  For the second year in a row, the Redbirds are coming in off of an upset of the Harrisburg Bulldogs.  They were winners last week on the road at Taylor Field 37-21.

Here is what West Frankfort Coach Brian Beery had to say about the win at Harrisburg.  “Without a doubt getting the “W” against a very physical Harrisburg Team on the road was a huge accomplishment for this young Redbird Football Team. It is my hope we can build from this win, and continue to grow as a team.”

It is going to be a game of contrasting styles.  Benton likes to go to the air.  West Frankfort likes to run the ball.  Both defenses hit hard and are stingy.

Benton QB Hamilton Page has been throwing consistently for over 200 yards each game.  I have only watched the Rangers one time this year and that was on film against Carterville.  It seems like on the stat sheets there are about five receivers he throws to, with him hitting Joey Craig the most.

West Frankfort racked up over 400 yards on the ground against Harrisburg.  The faces has changed but the style of play hasn’t.  Instead of Brandon Berry and Justin Tomoanovich, it is Connor Eaton and Madison Allen.

I asked Benton Coach Bob Pankey his thoughts coming into the West Frankfort game and how the Rangers plan to attack the ground game.     “Except for the Herrin game, we have defended the run fairly well this year thus far. Our linebacker play has been good and I expect that to be the case Saturday. Obviously, Eaton allen Allen will be loads and we will have to tackle well and get 11 hats to the ball.”

“The West Frankfort offensive line is big (as usual) and their “1/2 Punch” of Eaton and Allen are as good as anyone in Southern Illinois. We will need to play sound, assignment conscious football, and tackle well. If we do that, I feel our offense will be able to do some things.”

I also asked Coach Beery his thoughts on the Rangers and how the Redbirds plan to defend the Benton air assault. “Benton will probably be the biggest challenge we’ve faced this season in terms of being attacked through the air. Teams have challenged our defensive linemen and linebackers, and as a result they have gotten better each week.”

“Benton will challenge our linebackers’ and defensive backs’ training this week. We will need to be sound in our coverage, and be tenacious in our pursuit of the ball when it’s in the air. We must make sure that Benton’s receivers pay for any catches they make. We can’t just tern this game into a 7-on-7 tournament. Also, Page must not be allowed to scramble, we must keep him contained to the pocket and be sound in our pass rush.”

I know I usually give you a prediction.  First I am not being wishy-washy here.  I have through out some numbers a lot of times writing basketball previews, and I am going to handle it this way.

There are two important numbers 250 and 350.  If Hamilton Page throws for over 250 yards, the Rangers will most likely pick up the win  If the Redbirds run for over 350 yards, they will most likely pick up the win.

When I was thinking about what to say this week, I also thought of the possibility these numbers might be achieved by both teams.

Coach Beery referred to it as a 7 on 7 tournament.  I was thinking Arena Football.  It might look like a basketball score.

As fans I think we are in for a dandy.  There will be some playoff implications.  I also think the winner will have the upper hand in finishing as high as second in the conference.  It will be an honor to cover the game.  I am looking forward to it and pumped.







Week Five Football Schedule

Black Diamond

Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton (0-4) at Sesser-Valier-Waltonville (4-0)

Carmi- White County (2-2) at Fairfield (4-0)

Chester (2-2) at Johnston City (1-3)

Eldorado (3-1) at Hamilton County (0-4)

Edwards County (2-2) at Vienna-Goreville (2-2) 1:00 PM Saturday

Southern Illinois River to River – Ohio

Harrisburg (2-2) at Massac County (0-4) (0-1)

Murphysboro (1-3)(1-0) at Herrin (3-1)(1-0)

Benton (2-2)(0-1) at West Frankfort (3-1)(1-0)  12:00 p.m Saturday

Southern Illinois River to River – Mississippi

Carterville (3-1)(1-0) at Anna Jonesboro (4-0)(1-0)

Pinckneyville (0-4)(0-1) at DuQuoin (3-1)(0-1)

Nashville (1-3)(0-1) at Sparta (1-3)(1-0)

South Seven

Centralia (3-1)(1-0) at Belleville Altoff (4-0)(1-0)

Cahokia (1-3)(0-1) at Carbondale (1-3)(0-1)

Marion (1-0)(2-2) at Mt. Vernon (0-4)(0-1)

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News