Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SPORTS >>Beebe preparing mentally

Leader sports editor

Beebe’s “take-a-breath” week is over, and it’s back to games of great importance this week as the Badgers prepare to travel to Craighead County to take on the Nettleton Raiders. Beebe’s supposedly easy game against winless Greene County Tech turned out a little more difficult than it should have been, but Badger coach John Shannon was glad that his team got the win, got its 13 conference points and still has a shot at a high seed and a home playoff game.

Beebe’s 35-18 win over Tech qualified the Badgers for the playoffs, now it’s a matter of seeding.

A win over Nettleton assures Beebe of at least a three seed, and sets up a battle with Batesville for second place. Right now, Batesville is the furthest thing from Shannon’s mind.

“This is a big one right here,” Shannon said. “They’re on a roll. They’ve won 42-0 the last two weeks, so they’re coming into this one with some confidence.”

The teams’ four common opponents don’t shed much light on the matchup. Nettleton beat North Pulaski and Tech much easier than Beebe did, but just got by Paragould 21-14 and was blown out by Blytheville. Beebe hammered Paragould 35-0 and lost a thriller 32-22 to Blytheville.

What Shannon is most concerned with is improving how his team played last week against Tech.

“I don’t think it took them long to realize that they weren’t ready to play,” Shannon said of last week’s game. “We came back on Saturday watched film. They responded well to the talk we had Saturday, and hopefully we learned a valuable lesson about being mentally prepared.”

There some very tangible things that Beebe will have to improve upon in order to beat the Raiders. Executing on offense, and maintaining assignments on defense are key elements to a win this week, but those things too, go back to mental preparation.

“We had way too many missed assignments all over the field,” Shannon said. “Their (Tech’s) big plays were pass plays where the quarterback scrambled. He was able to get big yardage because we weren’t in our rushing lanes. We absolutely can’t do that this week because Nettleton is going to spread you out and run the ball.”

The Raiders come with a two-fold attack. Operating out of the spread offense, they run most of the time, but do have an effective passing game.

Their quarterback runs well and their running back is pretty good too,” Shannon said. “If we make the same kind of mistakes that we did last week, they’re going to have big games. We have to play smarter and execute better. We want to go into the playoffs with some momentum. We don’t want to limp in there losing two in a row, so we’re going to have to get better.”