SALINE COUNTY, Ark. — It’s called the biggest high school football game in Arkansas. The Benton versus Bryant Salt Bowl draws tens of thousands of fans every year.
To prepare both schools went head to head Tuesday night to see which side has more spirit. It was a blue and maroon monsoon on both sides of Interstate 30.
“Salt bowl is important because it brings Saline County together. It seems like it wouldn’t but it really does,” Bryant Mayor Allen Scott said from one dealership on the interstate.
The Benton Panthers and Bryant Hornets are all about making their presence known. Jets, helicopters, and fireworks ensure both fan bases know the other is there.
Benton Mayor Tom Farmer explained, “If you do everything the same year after year, it’s not special. We want to make it bigger and better each year for every student that comes through here.”
The rivalry dates back almost 50 years, and the coaches say the wins between the teams are tied 24 to 24.
“The rivalry is unbelievable. I mean these guys live across the street from each other. They live in the same neighborhoods, and then they play a football game,” stated Buck James, Bryant’s head football coach.
Though both events are in the name of competition they also represent community.
“People live for the Salt Bowl,” expressed Bella Crowe, Benton High Sophomore. “It’s just a way to let loose and yell at the top of your lungs for your team.”
“From that game, you kind of determine how the year is going to go for each team,” Calvin Myles, the father of a Bryant football player.
And if Tuesday’s crowds looked passionate, imagine them multiplied by 50 at the big game.
“When 7’o’clock, the kickoff comes about, it’s war, and everyone is yelling for their team and yelling no matter what, and after the game, we are all friends. And that’s what community is all about,” Mayor Farmer concluded.
Tickets are on sale for the Saturday game at War Memorial now. They are $15 dollars, and you can bundle a shirt to show your team colors at some locations. You can also pay to stream the game via Pay Per View from M&M Productions or listen to it on 1037 The Buzz sponsored by Big Red Stores.