The Benton Tigers are making history on the football field.
The Tigers claimed a 56-28 victory over Breaux Bridge in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs last week, keeping their season alive for at least one more game. Benton (11-0) will host No. 14 Cecilia (7-4) in the second round Friday night.
This is Benton’s first undefeated regular season since the Tigers went 9-0 in 2008. Benton also went 10-0 in 2004 and 1999.
“(This is a) great group of kids,” Benton coach Reynolds Moore said. “They deserve it. They worked for it. It’s kind of fun to see all their hard work paid off.”
Senior Brooks Cram, who went 8-for-8 on extra-point kicks last week, said the team performed highly from the get go. Benton outscored its first three opponents of the regular season by an average of 37.3 points per game.
“We were in midseason form during game one,” he said. “We had a fast start to the season and I think that helped us a lot.”
The undefeated Tigers found themselves in a close matchup last week. They weren’t going down without a fight, though, especially the team’s senior members.
Senior quarterback Garrett Hable had a big night against Breaux Bridge, completing 16 of 25 passes for 268 yards and five TDs. He also rushed eight times for 83 yards, including a 54-yard scramble that set up a touchdown late in the first half.
“It hasn’t been an easy road at all,” Hable said. “We’ve had some tough games.”
But this is what they prepared for all season. Senior Jordan Myles said they’ve consistently worked hard, putting in a lot of hours at practice and in the weight room.
That’s something he gives credit to the coaching staff for.
“They’ve instilled in us a mindset that we should perform at our best every week,” Myles said. “They make sure we’re getting after it in the weight room and strengthening our minds. Being strong mentally is just as important as being strong physically.”
There’s a little extra pressure going into the playoffs as an undefeated team. The slate is ‘wiped clean’ and each game counts as it’s win or go home from this point on.
The Tigers, however, say it’s business as usual.
“Our first goal of the year was to be undefeated in the regular season,” Myles said. “We worked hard to meet that goal and did it, but we aren’t done yet.”
On a personal level, Hable hopes they will get over the quarterfinal hump and make a deep run in the playoffs.
“We can’t overlook any opponent,” he said. “Being 10-0 going into the playoffs doesn’t mean anything because you could get beat by a 5-5 team. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Fortunately, they have an entire community cheering them on. Senior cheer captain Anna Quinlan said this season is definitely one to remember.
“It was a fast season, but I have loved being able to support them and cheer for them win after win,” she said. “We’re very proud, not just because we have great athletes, but because of the spirit this school and community has. It’s amazing to see the support we have from this community.”
That support is certainly felt on the field, too.
“We have a great community behind us who is always there to support us,” Myles said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done so far.”
-BPT Sports Editor Russell Hedges contributed to this article.