Hopes of extending the Central Cougars 2017 gridiron campaign in the playoffs were wrecked when all three Helena-West Helena School District busses transporting students and staff to Arkadelphia were involved in an accident on Interstate 30 near Benton Friday afternoon.

Hopes of extending the Central Cougars 2017 gridiron campaign in the playoffs were wrecked when all three Helena-West Helena School District busses transporting students and staff to Arkadelphia were involved in an accident on Interstate 30 near Benton Friday afternoon.

No serious injuries were reported but 38 of the 78 students aboard the busses were transported to Saline Memorial Hospital for minor injuries. Team members, the band and cheerleaders were among the passengers on the busses. All the injured students were discharged.

The accident shut down two lanes of traffic for approximately one hour.

After consulting with Head Coach Russell Smith, Central High School Principal Earnest Simpson, III, Transportation Director Jerry Burks and School Board President Andrew Bagley, Superintendent John Hoy made the decision for the team to withdraw from the playoffs.

Bagley reported that Arkadelphia wanted to reschedule the game for Saturday.

"While none of the injuries were life threatening, we had 38 kids with bruises, scratches and cuts. Fifteen of those kids were on the team...It just wasn't realistic for us to play Saturday," commented Bagley.

Bagley added that the district lost every activity bus the district had available and it would have been very difficult to make transportation arrangements before Monday.

"We looked at everything," said Bagley. "Everyone involved wanted to play. I hurt for our kids that didn't get to have that experience."

Bagley expressed his thanks to the Benton School District and Saline County Hospital staff who cared for the students.