Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

SPORTS >>Rivalry game brings electricity to Lonoke

Leader sports editor

Beebe and Lonoke meet up this week at LHS’s James B. Abraham Field after experiencing very different opening games. The Badgers pounced on Greenbrier and won a 21-0 shutout. Lonoke pounced on Hot Springs and led 21-7 at halftime, but gave up a big Trojan comebck and lost 36-35 when Hot Springs converted a two-point attempt with 23 seconds remaining.

Regardless of what happened in week one, this rivalry game is almost always an exciting event. Last season, the Badgers beat the Jackrabbits very similarly to how Hot Springs beat them last week. After last year’s game, former Beebe coach Cam Prock accurately commented that “this game always seems to come down to the last play.”

That’s the sort of series that turns into a rivalry, and it’s a rivalry that current Badger coach John Shannon, a former Badger, knows well.

“Well when I was a senior we moved out of their conference and didn’t even play them, but my first two years it was a big rivalry,” Shannon said. “I think it still is. Listening to our kids this week, they were talking about it. They were calling some of their kids by name. It’s a case of us being so close, our kids know their kids. I think it’s a pretty good rivalry.”

Of course the Badgers were excited when they returned to practice after their season-opening shutout. Shannon was also very pleased, but realizes that some things need correcting, and that Lonoke presents a whole different set of problems as Greenbrier.

“Greenbrier was a lot bigger than we though they were going to be,” Shannon said. “They were real physical. I thought we were pretty physical with them in the first half, but I think they matched us in the second half. They made some adjustments and we didn’t and we didn’t do a good job of adjusting to Greenbrier’s changes.”

The Jackrabbits won’t be as big as the Panthers, but they do present a different problem, one that is a concern for Shannon and the Badger coaching staff.

“They have lots of speed,” Shannon said. “We were pretty equal with Greenbrier in the speed department, but Lonoke has tons of it.”

Shannon mentioned Jackrabbit receiver Clarence Harris as being a key player to stop.

“Their number one (Harris) is a tall kid that can run really well,” Shannon said. “They’re going to try to get the ball in his hands a lot of different ways. We’re going to have to play smart and contain him because we can’t afford to let him get loose. I don’t know if we have anybody that can keep up with him if he does get loose.”

A key to Beebe containing Lonoke’s speed will be more good performances by key defensive players.

Linebacker Kyle Williams recorded 11 tackles last week. Kyle Vaughn had two sacks and Joe Berrick covered two Panther fumbles.

“Those guys really stood out for us defensively,” Shannon said. “We’re going to need to keep that kind of play up, because Lonoke’s offense can score points if you aren’t ready.”

Shannon couldn’t say for certain of Lonoke would be as physical as Greenbrier, but believes history indicates that it will.

“It’s hard to tell on film whether or not they’re physical because they run that spread,” Shannon said. “I do know that typically in the past, Lonoke has always been a real physical team.”

The Badgers and Jackrabbits kickoff Friday night at 7:30 p.m.