2019 VYPE Arkansas Football Preview: Bentonville Tigers
Over the past decade, the Bentonville Tigers have been a model of consistency. Bentonville has won the 7-A West title six out of the past seven years and are strong contenders to win the conference again this season. Bentonville will not catch any of the teams in the 7-A West by surprise this season and it could be a challenging year for the Tigers.
Bentonville will open the season with a battle for signal caller. Coach Jody Grant has four fine options to choose from at the quarterback position. Matthew Schluterman, Andrew Edwards, Drew Wright, and Ben Pankau will all likely see snaps early in the season. Schluterman has the advantage of having experience in the program and has a good chance to be the starter at quarterback early in the season. Bentonville has talent to spare at the quarterback position. It will come down to which quarterback can put the ball in the end zone on a consistent basis.
Not a lot of mystery surrounds the running back position for the Tigers in 2019. Preston Crawford was an all-state running back last season and he is back for his senior season. Crawford rushed for over 950 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Bentonville fans should expect similar production this season. Crawford has drawn the interest of Bowling Green and Tennessee-Martin and has an excellent chance at playing on Saturdays next fall.
Bentonville has multiple dangerous threats at the wide receiver position. The biggest target the Tigers have is Zach Lee. Lee is a match up nightmare at 6'5" and 190 lbs. Lee provides a big play threat for the Tigers that the rest of the 7-A West will have trouble defending. Lee is not the only talented wide out that Bentonville has, and fans should look for Chris Nimrod to work some in the slot and cause problems for opposing linebackers and safeties.
The Tigers' defense has five starters returning for the 2019 season. Chris Crawford at the defensive end position causes a problem for opposing offensive linemen in the 7-A West. Crawford is very quick and has excellent strength. The defensive line will be a stabilizing force for the Tigers this season. Bentonville fans should look for Austin Thompson to see time on the defensive front. Thompson has good athleticism and can play both the defensive end position and the linebacker spot for the Tigers.
From the linebacking position, the Tigers will look for Cole Joyce and Keegan Stinespring to cause problems for opposing offenses. Joyce was an all-state linebacker last season with 80 tackles and a sack to his credit. Keegan Stinespring could be the next break out star for the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball. Stinespring has excellent speed to go along with good instincts and he will be a disruptive force for the Tigers.
Bentonville fans should expect the strong secondary from 2018 to show up again for the 2019 season. The Tigers will be led in the secondary by Levi Bennett. Bennett was another Tiger that earned all-state honors in 2018. Bennett is a lock down cornerback and will see his share of interceptions this season. Ben Pankau will see time at safety where he earned all-state honors and had an excellent season in 2018.
Bentonville is a strong team on both sides of the ball. The Tigers will need to figure out the quarterback position early in the season, but Tigers' fans should look for another deep playoff run with an excellent chance to play in Little Rock in November.