Leader Blues

Monday, August 27, 2007

SPORTS >>Bears potent in scrimmage

Leader sportswriter

If the early scrimmages held Tuesday are any indication, this year’s version of the Sylvan Hills Bears proves to be offensively potent. The Bears had two successful scrimmages against Little Rock Hall and Little Rock Parkview on Tuesday, downing both teams in regulation two-quarter halves.

There were four teams on hand for the scrimmages held at Bill Blackwood Field, with Parkview and Pulaski Academy squaring off in game one before the Bears and Warriors took to the field for game two. The Bruins downed Parkview in the opener 27-17, and would take the win over Hall in the third game also.

Hall took first possession, and was forced to punt when the SH defense held them to only four yards in three plays. It didn’t take long for the Bears to show their hand, as Hunter Miller found Jacob Clark on a crossing pattern on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage. Clark cleared a pair of nearside defenders, and scooted the rest of the way in for a 70-yard touchdown play.

The second possession for Sylvan Hills would also produce a score, but it would take a lot more work to punch it in this time. The drive was mostly sustained by runs from senior quarterback Miller, who called his own number to get the ball into Warrior territory.

Miller then converted on a fourth and five play when he had to scramble out of the pocket for the yardage necessary for the first down, and junior Lawrence Hodges advanced the ball into the Hall red zone with a run up the middle to the 15-yard line. Hodges had also saved the drive moments earlier when he gained 20 yards on a run to the left side that took the Bears from facing a third and 25 to a more manageable fourth and five.

Miller took things from there, finding room off the right side of the line before cutting back to the middle to run the ball in from 15 yards out for the score.

The Bears’ defense looked particularly good against Hall, not giving up a first down until the Warriors’ third possession. A large number of junior varsity players were on the field when Hall finally started moving the ball. The Warriors scored with 7:58 left in the first quarter on a 43-yard pass play.

Frequent substitutions and experimental plays made ball movement a little more sparse in the second quarter, but Miller did get the chance to showcase his passing abilities with a 39-yard toss down the left side to senior Clint Thornton. Miller’s pass had good placement, and Thornton pulled the ball down for the short dash to the end zone for the third and final Sylvan Hills score of the scrimmage. Mitch Zimmerman backed up his strong performance in last Friday’s intra-squad game with another good showing in the defensive backfield. Zimmerman put an exclamation point on the first scrimmage for Sylvan Hills with an interception in the final minute.

Zimmerman may have been tops for the Bears defensively in the opener, but it was senior linebacker Blake Rix who had the biggest hand in stopping Parkview in the finale. Rix recorded five tackles and fell on two loose balls for Sylvan Hills, showing much more speed than his 5’7”, 170 lb. might indicate at first glance.

Offensively, the Bears started out strong with more good runs by Miller and sophomore Juliean Broner. Broner and teammate Hodges have looked to be the class of the underclassmen in early scrimmage action. Broner averaged 10.1 yards per carry against the Patriots, carrying six times for 62 yards, including a 28-yard run in the final minute after being nearly brought down by Parkview at the line of scrimmage on the tailback draw play.

Miller carried the ball six times for 69 yards against Parkview, including a 25-yard touchdown run on the Bears’ first possession, but with one fumble. Thornton carried only one time in the second game, but it was good enough for a touchdown run from 19 yards out.

“It was a good effort,” Bears coach Jim Withrow said. “We gave up some big plays on defense, and we can’t do that. Turnovers were the only thing that really got me hot. One turnover is one too many; three or four is just disgraceful. We have a long ways to go on our execution and consistency — I thought we lost focus some in that second game instead of putting them away.” Chris Daulton also had a solid game on the defensive side in game two, recording a pair of tackles and coming away with an interception on Parkview quarterback Darell Mixon in the first half.