Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SPORTS>> Falcons should open season strong with a win over Lions

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

A year ago, we would have had to give the nod to the Lions, but we’ll take the fighting Falcons this week. The gurus over at Hooten’s Arkansas Football have the Lions by 21, and even though I have far less expertise than those guys, I have followed both of these teams closely for the last five years, and can tell you that NP has the best team it has had by far in those five years, while Searcy appears to be smaller and less experienced than any of its teams in that time.

The Lions are going to be fairly inexperienced in their complicated Spread offensive attack, while the huge and battle-tested Falcon offensive line is perfect for the new Dead-T set installed by seventh-year coach Tony Bohannon.
Just for the sake of playing Devil’s advocate, we’ll take the Falcons by 21.

North Pulaski 27, Searcy 6

BEEBE AT GREENBRIER

Greenbrier will be fighting to regain respect after struggling over the past several years, but the acquisition of former Harding University coach Randy Tribble for this season should have them heading in the right direction. It worked for Beebe and John Shannon last season.

It was the Badgers switching from the pass to the run under Shannon in ’07. The Panthers just happen to be switching the other way around with the Spread in place of their former Jet-Wing offense.

There’s no doubt that Tribble can rebuild the Greenbrier football program to the level of it’s early 90s heyday, butdon’t look for an 8-3 season like the one Shannon and company posted in his inaugural season. The Badgers already know how to hit hard. The Panthers still have to learn how to run away from that effectively.

Beebe 31, Greenbrier 14

SYLVAN HILLS AT MALVERN

This one has great potential to be a low-scoring affair, especially if your name is Malvern. Both teams will be adjusting to drops in classification (SH from 6A to 5A, Malvern from 5A to 4A) but this one will belong to the Bears regardless of how many A’s are involved. The Leopards match up quite well with Sylvan Hills in size at the line, but they will get hammered in the corners. With a Malvern linebacking core that averages just over 170 pounds, we’re just hoping that SH fullback Lawrence Hodges (5-8, 210) doesn’t decide to snack on one of them.

Sylvan Hills 28, Malvern 0

RIVERVIEW VS. MARKED TREE

Marked Tree lost a lot from last year’s 3-2A Conference-winning team, but they did, in fact, have a last year. The Raiders will probably be much better than your typical upstart program, but the Indians already have great tradition in place. That and senior running back Michael Gray, who averaged just over 110 yards rushing per game in 2007.

Marked Tree 27, Riverview 17

HARDING ACADEMY VS. POCAHONTAS

The Wildcats didn’t lose a ton in terms of player numbers at the end of last season, but did lose ace play-caller Tommy Shoemaker to CAC. That made way for Roddy Mote, who has left the coach Shoe-era Spread in place, with experienced senior QB Matt Lincoln and Seth Keese back under center.

The only problem is, most of Keese’s and Lincoln’s favorite targets from a year ago are now gone, leaving HA with limited options.

The Redskins may not have what it takes to reach the 4A state semifinals again this year, but they should be able to handle a rebuilding Wildcats team.

Pocahontas 34, Harding Academy 23

CABOT AT JACKSONVILLE

Look for the Red Devils to have a much better season than last year’s 3-7 campaign, but unfortunately, they will start the season off with what will most likely be a blowout loss. The Panthers simply have much more experience and size.

Sophomore QB Logan Perry looked impressive during the Jacksonville scrimmage two weeks ago, but that was facing his buddies in the defensive backfield. Hunter Hess, Zach Coy and the Bryant twins will be decidedly less charitable, and could add some INTs to the youngster’s early-season stats. That’s only providing that he escapes Kyle Deblock and the brutal CHS defensive line.

I went against Hooten’s with the Searcy-NP pick, but will fall in line with this one.
Cabot 42, Jacksonville 7