Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

SPORTS >>Devils, Falcons try to turn tides

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

This week’s crosstown matchup between Jacksonville and North Pulaski will be the last for an indefinite amount of time. The two teams won’t meet again after this Friday for at least two seasons, but neither team comes into this game worrying too much about the other.

Both teams were shut out and lost by six touchdowns in last Friday’s season opener, and both are more concerned with fixing their own problems than with what their opponent may or may not do.

North Pulaski, which lost 43-0 on the road at Dumas, will be trying to correct the poor tackling that plagued the team in last week’s loss.

“We just didn’t tackle well,” North Pulaski coach Tony Bohannon said. “We were in the right places, but didn’t tackle. There’s also some things offensively we need to work on. We didn’t block well in the first half. We got that fixed a little bit in the second and blocked a little better. But overall we have to improve there too.”

Jacksonville, which fell 42-0 at Cabot, would be in much better shape by simply holding on to the football.

The Red Devils turned it over four times against the Panthers, including three times in the first half when they fell behind 35-0.

“You’re not going to beat Pickles Gap if you turn the ball over that many times,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. And you’re sure not going to beat Cabot. They’re a good football team, they force you to play a nearly perfect game, and we didn’t even come close to doing that.”

The loss was especially disappointing coming on the heels of a very good outing against North Little Rock in the preseason scrimmage game.

“We did just as much wrong this past Friday, as we did right the Friday before,” Whatley said.

Jacksonville did have a few possessions in which it moved the ball down the field. One ended in a turnover, another stalled on downs inside the Cabot 10-yard line. Those drives were important to look at this week and see that good things can happen for this Red Devil offense.

“That’s the bright spot,” Whatley said. “When we don’t play within our system, we don’t get anything done. When we do, we’re capable of moving the football, and we got to see that last week.”

North Pulaski may try to rearrange some of its personnel for Friday’s game. Bohannon wasn’t totally pleased with some of the positions were played.

“We saw a little more movement we need to make with players,” Bohannon said. “We’re probably going to try some folks in some different positions. We didn’t get the effort we wanted in certain spots, so we might move some things around.”

With Jacksonville, the head Red Devil keeps going back to the system.

“We’ve got to go back to doing things within the system on both sides of the football,” Whatley said. “The little bitty things can kill, but there were times when we didn’t even do the main things. I’m talking about technique, progression reads and things like that. When we rolled our own, it blew up on us. When we played within the system, it was successful.”

Even with the poor play, Whatley was not dissatisfied with his team’s effort.

“This is a team that plays with a passion for the game,” Whatley said. “I can’t fault their desire. I can fault our execution.”
Jacksonville and North Pulaski kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday night at Falcon Stadium.