BENSON — Carson Barney and D’Ondre Villalobos know the Benson Bobcats will be in for a dogfight on the road Friday in the 2A State Football Championship quarterfinal.

They’re right.

Benson, 8-3, and fresh off a 63-19 dismantling of Veritas Prep Academy, travels to No. 1 Round Valley, 8-2, Friday in a 7 p.m. showdown with the Elks. The Bobcats are the only Cochise County team alive in the playoffs.

For No. 9 Benson to depart the White Mountains with an “upset” win, Barney and Villalobos will need to do what they’ve done all year. Run... run, and score touchdowns.

Both bring a mix of speed and power to their running game. Unfairly, perhaps, solid play on defense is often overshadowed by the numbers on offense, but the stats on “O” are stout.

The pair has scored nearly half of the Bobcats’ 62 touchdowns this season.

Through 11 games, Barney, with 18 touchdowns, has rushed for 1,334 on 108 carries at a 12.4 yard per-carry clip. He has six 100-yard plus games entering the state quarterfinal.

Villalobos, 12 touchdowns and 902 yards on the ground, plus a pair of TD receptions, has four 100-yard plus games to his credit. Barney and Villalobos have accounted for 39 and 21 tackles respectively. And they both return punts and kickoffs and are a constant threat to bust one to the house.

Their impact is not understated.

“A ton,” responded head coach Chris Determan. “They block, run, catch and play defense… they are very involved in how well we play as a team,” the coach said.

The four-year varsity football lettermen have been playing together since their days in flag football, and each credits the other, along with the front line, for much of their success.

“They’ve stepped it up big time,” Barney said. “I’ve been really impressed and grateful for them and the work they’ve put in.” He also credits the “strong relationship” with Coach Determan and his teammates and is only too happy to have his partner in the backfield.

Barney described Villalobos’ presence as “relieving.” “We can count on D’Ondre… he has a lot of game... we both have a game and are pretty set.”

Villalobos, who missed much of his sophomore year to injury, concurred, and also talked about the team cohesiveness.

“It’s been good… he teaches me a lot and he’s a good guy,” Villalobos said of his coach. As far as the success running the ball: “...It’s my lineman, honestly, they make the blocks… I just read it.” On Barney’s impact, he said, “It’s good… you give him the ball and you know he’s going to do something with it.”

But each always return and give credit to the line and so does Determan. “The line is getting better all the time,” the coach said, “...and we’ll keep working on getting better.”

Colton and Cameron McFarland, Joe Jackson, Ryan Francione, Ralph Grassi, and Rikki Olivas “...all see time in the trenches,” Determan noted.

Barney and Villalobos anxiously await Friday’s encounter with the Elks. A meeting last month in Benson went the Elks’ way, 42-28.

“It should be a good game,” said Villalobos, with Barney adding: ““It’ll be a rough, tough game… Round Valley is pretty good, but if we execute we should be fine… but it’ll be a dogfight.”

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