Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SPORTS>>Devils looking for shootout

Leader sportswriter

This week’s battle at Jan Crow Stadium will feature two teams that could very easily end up in the mix for the 6A-East title.

Jacksonville and Jonesboro are both coming off big wins to start off the conference season. One of those teams will take their first blemish in league play on Friday when the Hurricane visit at 7 p.m.

Jonesboro (3-1, 1-0) needed a late comeback to overtake a surprisingly stout Parkview team in a 47-46 thriller, while the Red Devils (2-2, 1-0) recovered from a Week 3 embarrassment at Mills to thump Mountain Home 42-17 behind a 14-of-15, 4-touchdown performance by sophomore quarterback Logan Perry.

Jonesboro coach and alum Randy Coleman said he would like to see a little less drama this week.

“It was a game that had it all,” Coleman said. “We had a 13-0 lead, they come back and go up 32-13, and we had to scratch and claw our way back. It was a fun game. The game went on past 10 o’clock, and we weren’t planning on being on the field that late. That’s when the sprinklers came on. Every drama you could possibly have was there.”

However dramatic the win may have been, the physicality of the game took a toll on Coleman’s defensive depth chart. Starting free safety Chris Robinson suffered a concussion during the game, and is doubtful for Friday. His backup was ejected, and outside linebacker Tarus Green went down for the year with a torn ACL.

Slot linebacker Cedric Washington also suffered a head and neck injury, and will most likely miss a couple of games, according to Coleman. Anotherlinebacker also came away with a serious concussion at the completion of the Parkview game.

“A week ago, I would have told you we were okay,” Coleman said. “But we took a hit with all the injuries we had against Parkview. We could have done without the injuries. We hope the doctor’s report on Chris comes back in our favor. It’s kind of a 50-50 deal at this point, but it’s a possibility that we’re going to need some other people to step up.”

The good news for the Red Devils is that they have gone through the first month of the season virtually unscathed. Head coach Mark Whatley said everyone is okay up to this point in terms of injuries.

One of Whatley’s larger concerns for this week is how the Jonesboro secondary will react to his explosive receiving corps, in particular senior Demetris Harris. Harris hauled in six passes, four of which went for touchdowns last week against the Bombers.

“Football is kind of a funny sport,” Whatley offered. “One week, you’ll have a guy step up when someone else is cold, and then the next week, someone else will step up and make the big plays.

“Whether or not they double up on Demetris remains to be seen, but we feel like we have plenty of other people who can be effective. Stan Appleby had a really big game up at Vilonia.”

Stopping Jonesboro receiver A.J. Steele (6-1, 207) will be a vital key defensively for Jackson-ville this week, according to Whatley. His concern is Steele’s ability to turn short passes into big gains.

“They have been putting up big numbers,” Whatley said. “Their quarterback is throwing very well, and taking what’s there. ( A.J. Steele) is a concern for us, and his yards after the catch.”

Coleman said he expects a shootout on Friday.

“These teams are evenly matched,” Coleman said. “Both teams will have chances to score quickly, Jacksonville probably a little more so than us. They have an explosive defense, so if we don’t get in there and compete, it could be a long game for us.”