Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SPORTS >>Lonoke looking to climb above .500

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke will try for two conference wins in a row on Friday night when they host Southside Batesville in the third game of the season for the 4A-2 Conference. The Jackrabbits are coming off a huge win over Bald Knob on the road last week, and are looking for the momentum to continue.

The ‘Rabbits homecoming will pit them against an upstart Southerners team which has struggled in their first year of existence. Southside started its football record with a win over Jonesboro Westside in week one, and lost a close heartbreaker to Salem in week three. The start of the 4A-2 Conference schedule has not been as kind to the Southerners, however, losing in shutouts to Stuttgart 56-0 and last week to the Newport Greyhounds 47-0.

Last week’s loss to Newport saw Southside’s offense, led by quarterback Dean Rawlings, move the ball respectably down the field, but a breakdown in the interior prevented them from sealing the deal for a score. Rawlings completed 17 of his 34 pass attempts for a total of 100 yards in the contest, but being sacked nine times by the Greyhounds defense did not help his cause, pushing the Southerners back a total of 72 yards.

Lonoke has struggled offensively for much of the early going this season, but finally got the spread running in high gear last week against Bald Knob. The ‘Rabbits put up an astounding 61 points against a Bulldogs defense that had previously only given up an average of 17.5 points per game through its first four games, including a 40-6 loss to Highland in week three.
Although the Jackrabbits carry a record of 2-3 into Friday’s game, the margins of victory versus the margins of defeat for Lonoke are quite vast. All three losses for the ‘Rabbits add up to a total of 14 points difference between themselves and their competitors. The margin of victory in their wins over North Pulaski and Bald Knob, however, is a whopping 62 points.
Head coach Jeff Jones says his team’s performance last week against the Bulldogs was a dramatic improvement over the first month. Those improvements were visible on both sides of the football.

“I was really excited about how our quarterback responded last week,” Jones said. “Our offense did an outstanding job with the pass, it gave me a lot of confidence in our passing game, before then I didn’t have much confidence in it.” Jones says that along with a solid performance from junior QB Alex Cash, the ‘Rabbit defense stepped up on Friday as well.

“I was also excited about our defense,” Jones said. “They turned it up another notch last week. Hopefully we can keep improving from week to week and play solid football.” As far as the conference race goes, Jones says starting out in the hole with a loss to Heber Springs has made going for the conference title a long shot, but still achievable.

“Right now, we feel like we control our own destiny,” Jones said. “Losing that first game to Heber was obviously a big blow to us, and we still feel like our backs are to the wall. We just have to worry about ourselves and take each game as it comes; we definitely can’t let another one get away from us.”

The Jackrabbits and Southerners will square off at Abraham Field in Lonoke this Friday with opening kickoff at 7:30 p.m.