BENSON — No. 9 Benson trounced Veritas Prep Friday to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2A Football State Championship Tournament with a meeting Friday with No. 1 Round Valley.
The Bobcats’ pounding running game, anchored behind stout front line play from Colton and Cameron McFarland, Joe Jackson, Ryan Francione, Ralph Grassi and Rikki Olivas, who “all see time in the trenches,” according to coach Chris Determan, were no match for Veritas. Benson imposed its will early on and never looked back in the 63-19 win.
The line opened the holes for running backs Carson Barney and D’Ondre Villalobos who carried the bulk of Benson’s multi-pronged running game.
Barney rushed for 222 yards on 11 carries and Villalobos ran for 125 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. While Carson and D’Ondre can utilize a mix of power and speed, there is no subtlety in Jace Barney’s running method. The fullback’s low center, straight-on running style, which was good for two touchdowns on Friday, has been an effective tool in the Bobcats’ offense arsenal. Talon Palmer at quarterback also ran for a touchdown.
The Bobcats blew the game open with 29 second-quarter points to lead 36-7 at the half after holding a slim 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Benson outscored Veritas 14-12 in the third quarter and added 13 fourth-quarter points.
The running game accounted for 376 yards while Palmer completed 7 of 12 pass attempts for 159 yards and three touchdowns as the Bobcats netted 535 yards total offense.
Head coach Chris Determan, named 2A football coach of the year by allsportstucson.com, was pleased by the Round 1 effort.
“Overall we played well,” the coach said. “But we still had too many penalties and we must clean that up.” And as far as the upcoming return engagement with Round Valley, Determan and crew are well aware what it will take Friday night if the Bobcats are to leave the White Mountains with a berth in next week’s semifinal.
“We will have to play our best on both sides of the ball and must stay away from the penalty bug,” said Determan.
Friday’s game will mark the second meeting this season between the teams. The Bobcats, after a solid first half, lossed the Oct. 11 game 42-28 at the Jerry P. Lee Athletics Complex.