When the sixth seeded Benton Rangers face 11th seed Salem Wildcats in the first round of the Class 4A football playoffs Saturday at Tabor Field the game will feature two similar teams that are relatively new to the postseason.
"I know our fans are excited," said Benton coach Justin Groves. "Our kids were little the last time Benton had a home playoff game (2012 against Robinson) and are chomping at the bit to get after it."
Salem (7-2) is making its second straight playoff appearance after missing the postseason for 11 seasons while Benton is making its first playoff appearance since 2012 after flipping its record from 1-8 last year to 8-1.
"We're excited to be playing a local team our second year back in," said Salem coach Kevin Greene. "I'm hoping we're going to have a nice crowd travel down there since we're only 45 minutes away, so it should be a great atmosphere. We're two similar teams, so it's going to come down to who turns it over more and who can stop the run to make the other team predictable."
The Wildcats come in on a six-game winning streak having out-scored the opposition 39-14. Senior quarterback Ryan Quinn has completed 51.9 percent of his passes (80-of-154) for 1,366 yards with 15 touchdown passes and three interceptions.
At running back senior Cole Graham is the leading rusher averaging 7.4 yards a carry with 483 yards on 65 carries with four touchdowns. Right behind is junior Keyton Mitchell with 466 yards on 85 carries and eight touchdowns and senior Trevor Greene with 337 yards on 65 carries with five touchdowns.
At wide receiver senior Laten Wayer is the leading receiver with 31 catches for 437 yards and five touchdowns while sophomore Caden Bee is averaging 28.9 yards a catch on 16 receptions with six touchdowns.