LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) — War Memorial Stadium staff want to give Benton and Bryant high school football players a new experience after the scare at the Salt Bowl.
“I think initially they were just relieved that it was over. That’s such a stressful week anyway and I think at some point they were at ease that everybody was OK,” said Buck James, Bryant head football coach.
“We had a lot of kids that took off running and that’s what they’re taught to do,” Benton head football coach Brad Harris said.
A fight at the stadium during the Aug. 25 game between Benton and Bryant, known as the Salt Bowl (both teams are in Saline County), prompted rumors of gunfire and a panic among the crowd, which fled the stadium. The game was never finished.
Since then, several security measures have been put in place, including new metal detectors, a clear-bag policy and the banning of purses.
This Saturday, the two teams’ football players will come to the stadium for what, hopefully, will be a totally different experience than last time.
War Memorial staff are giving both teams free tickets to see the University of Arkansas Razorbacks play Ole Miss.
The teams, who are some of the biggest rivals in the state, are grateful for the chance to make better memories.
“You just kind of say you know, we care, is really important for us as a football team especially in a way you know to allowing our sports team to watch another sports team of that caliber, I think that’s really special for us,” said Benton player Joshua George.’
It will be the first time some of them have ever seen a Razorback game live.
“Kids can’t wait until the tickets get here, they started calling my phone last night,” James said.
The teams didn’t get to finish their Salt Bowl game, but they’re looking forward to seeing this one.
“I think it’s a great opportunity there’s a lot of kids that get to go to the ball game that normally wouldn’t get to do that,” James said.
The tickets were paid for through the War Memorial Trust Fund.
“I think it’s a great gesture for us. Hopefully, we get a lot of kids that attend the ball game and support the Razorbacks,” Harris said.