Leader Blues

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SPORTS >>Freshmen, NP Falcons set records

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

The North Pulaski freshmen football team is turning the corner. The freshmen Falcons have won their last two games over Little Rock Christian Academy and Pulaski Oak Grove, and broke some school records in the process.

Last Thursday against Oak Grove, freshman running back Michael Cage broke single-game records for touchdowns, points and rushing yardage, while the team broke the single-game school record for total yards.

The Falcons amassed 426 total yards while Caged piled up 288 of those on the ground.

He also scored six touchdowns and ran in two separate two-point conversions to finish the game with 40 points scored in North Pulaski’s 48-34 victory over the Hornets.

“It was a phenomenal effort,” North Pulaski coach Ben Belton said. “He ran hard, the line blocked really well for him. There were some big holes, and when there wasn’t he ran through tackles, kept his feet moving, it was just a great team accomplishment. “

North Pulaski has been at a disadvantage all season in having Belton as the only coach to work with the team most of the time. Extenuating circumstances left Belton without an assistant this season, and it’s taken the team a little more time to get up to speed with where most teams have been for a while.

“I knew this team would get better, and they have,” Belton said. “We’ve played eight games and we’re just now hitting our third and fourth-game stride. We’re behind other teams, but I knew they would come around.”

Belton felt like a key turning point was three games ago against league leading Mills. NP lost that game, but competed well, and the head coach noticed a difference that night.

“We made the turn that week against Mills,” Belton said. “We know we’re just 2-6 overall, but the way we’re looking at it, we’re throwing out the first half of the season and trying to finish 4-0.”

Belton is also proud of his team for sticking through the arduous and long process of improvement.

“They’re good kids, there’s no doubt about that,” Belton said. “They know they’re at a disadvantage, but they’ve kept working hard. We haven’t been able to do as much with our time as other teams, but what we’ve been able to do, they’ve listened and done what was asked of them. They’ve been getting better and better and better. I knew a turn would come for ‘em, and it finally did. We’ve got two tough games left, but games I think they can win.”

The Falcons travel to Sylvan Hills tomorrow, and close the season next week at home against Jacksonville in the annual Chili Bowl.