Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SPORTS >>Beebe anxious to face off with Greenbrier

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

Believe it or not, the Beebe Badgers are about to play their first game under the direction of new head coach John Shannon. Shannon has been so outgoing and available to fans, media and parents since his arrival last spring, that it seems like he’s been there forever. An old Badger himself, after an initial rough going with staff changes, he fell right into place almost as if he’d never left.

But all of that is mere perception. Reality is that no one knows for certain how well this team has picked up on the dramatic changes Shannon began implementing upon his arrival.

That will be answered somewhat Friday night when the Badgers host Greenbrier. Shannon has been pleased with the progress his team has made since day one. Other than an occasional bad day of practice, it’s been all good reports about the team’s progress and ability to understand and put into action Shannon’s system.

Even a coach can’t be sure until his team faces a stiff challenge, and that’s what Greenbrier has been for Beebe for the last several years. The Badgers hold a slight win-loss advantage in the series, but most of the games have been close ones. That should mean a good test for the Badgers’ new system.

Like Beebe, Greenbrier has been a spread team for much of the past few seasons. That won’t be the case this year. The Panthers could line up in the spread at times, but it will be just one of many looks the Badger defense could see.

“They line up in a bunch of different formations,” Shannon said. “We have to make sure we get our kids lined up right. We didn’t do that a few times last week (in a scrimmage game against Oak Grove). We’ve got to do better this time.”

While there will be many formations, there may not be a large variety of plays. Few teams show their full hand in benefit games, but the Beebe coaching staff saw something very familiar about the plays Greenbrier was running.

“I’d say they’re basically a Wing-T team,” Shannon said. “Most of their plays are Wing-T plays. They just run them out of different formations. They’re trying to get the angle on you, which is why we have to be sure we’re in the right spots on defense.”

The Badgers have been pumped since having success on offense and defense at last week’s benefit game. That’s something Shannon is glad to see as opening night approaches.

“The kids have responded well since then,” Shannon said. “They had a really good practice the next day and Thursday. We came back in here Saturday morning and hopefully we’re going to hit the ground running on game night. The kids have been excited, they’ve had some pep in their step. I’m real pleased to see that.”