Leader Blues

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

SPORTS>>Falcons unveil 2008 squad in scrimmage

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

Tony Bohannon wasn’t ready to declare his North Pulaski Falcons world-beaters after a couple of short scrimmages. But he was clearly pleased with what he saw.

The Falcons, losers of 56 of their past 60 games, are pinning their highest hopes in years on a big offensive line and the return of 16 starters. They finally got a chance to see the 2008 product against another team in the Pulaski Robinson jamboree scrimmage on Monday night at Robinson High School.

“We were pleased overall with the effort and pleased with the attitude,” said Bohannon, who begins his seventh year at the Falcon helm when North Pulaski visits Searcy for the season opener Sept. 5.

The Falcons scrimmaged 3A England for a half, then took on 5A Robinson for the second half. Other than the normal game-time glitches of a first scrimmage of the season, Bohannon said the Falcons were technically and fundamentally sound, though they did lose three fumbles during the course of the evening.

“I’m not real crazy about that,” he said. “But we ran the ball real well and we were able to move the ball. Darrius Cage, Billy Barron and Bryan Colson all ran the ball well.”

Those three are all sophomores, which belies the experience of a team that returns eight starters on offense and eight on defense.

Bohannon said the offensive line, expected to be one of the primary strengths of the squad, blocked well.

“They didn’t dominate,” he said. “And they got a little tired. The conditioning part for the whole team showed a little bit. We’re not as far as I thought we’d be at this point. But there was nothing I saw last night that we can’t fix.”

The big question mark heading into fall was the center position, which was left vacated by the graduation of dandy snapper Caleb Phillips. The Falcons worked throughout August to find his replacement and it appears as if it will be 215-pound senior Jeff Painter.

“Right now, he’s our No. 1 man,” Bohannon said. “We had no bad snaps, no bobbled snaps and that was a big plus for us.”

Bohannon got an opportunity to play a lot of people, including the junior varsity squad. Six different running backs toted the ball for the Falcons, though offensive fireplug Jerald Blair was not among them. He played only on defense on Monday.

Quarterback A.J. Allen ran the option well, Bohannon said.

Bohannon was equally pleased with the defense.

“We’re still looking to fill some spots, but I saw some positive things, depth-wise,” he said.

The Falcons will focus on special teams today before hitting it hard again on Thursday and Friday, when they will begin to prepare for Searcy. The Lions matched North Pulaski’s 1-9 record in 2007.

Bohannon is glad to have the first scrimmage under his belt.

“You’re always going to find a few glitches in that first scrimmage,” he said. “We’ll look at film and make corrections. But overall, I was pretty pleased and saw a lot of positive things to look to the future.”