Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SPORTS>>Falcons going for 2-0

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Usually when North Pulaski and Oak Grove play each other, it pits two struggling teams trying to turn things around. This year, both teams are trying to build off big wins in Week 1.

The Falcons earned a 1-0 record with a dramatic 21-15 win over Searcy last Friday, but Oak Grove came away with what was one of the biggest upsets of the week in a 21-7 decision over 5A powerhouse Little Rock Christian.

The Falcons looked dominant for one half of play, but showed a number of weaknesses later in the game. Searcy was able to keep several drives alive with NP penalties, and the Falcon defense was sucking serious wind in the final eight minutes of play.

“We’re not in real good shape conditioning-wise,” Bohannon said. “At least, not as good as I thought we were. We plan on working on our conditioning this week, but you can’t solve it all in one week.”

The other negative — penalties — kept Searcy’s offense on the field most of the second half, and also brought back a pair of TD runbacks by Jerald Blair. His kick return in the first half and punt return to start the second half would have totaled 12 points and 192 yards, but a hold and an illegal block negated them both.

“One of those calls was a little questionable,” Bohannon said, “but most of our biggest mistakes were penalty-wise. Part of it with Searcy was that no-huddle package they had. There’s a mental thing about it where you’re just trying to hurry up. It’s way more tense than if you get to huddle and regroup.”

Last week, speed was the name of the game, with the Falcons’ defense trying to keep up with the Searcy receivers. This week will most likely be won in the trenches, with both teams sporting sizeable and experienced lines.

“They’re going to run it; we’re going to run it,” Bohannon said. “The game’s going to be won right there at the line of scrimmage most likely. Oak Grove is a pretty good team. They run the ball well.

“They looked good on film — they have a lot of size up front. Plus, they have some backs that can really move.”

Oak Grove coach Mike Buchan said there is little time to celebrate his team’s big win over LRCA. In fact, Buchan said that last week’s singular defensive goal of shutting down All-State Warrior running back Michael Dyer was probably an easier challenge than this week’s task of going up against the massive NP offensive line.

“North Pulaski is going to be a big test for us,” Buchan said. “Our defense is mainly set up for stopping the Spread, which is what most of the teams in our conference use. Most of the kids on our defense are just over 200 pounds, and they have two linemen that are over 350. We’re just not used to that.

“We don’t have that kind of size — all we have is speed and quickness. We do have some guys that will hit you. They may be small, but they bring the hammer. We’re a bunch of little dogs that think they’re big dogs.”

The Hornet offense is led by quarterback Cordero Harris, with running backs Tim Johnson, J.P. Green and former Falcon Brandon Hudson at fullback. They relied heavily on hard yards by Hudson last season out of their Wing-T formation, but
Buchan said that defenses won’t be able to focus on the big guy quite as much this year.

“People are probably going to have to play more honest with us this year,” Buchan said. “We’ve got good depth with our running back, just not on the line. Our offense, when run right, has been almost impossible to stop. It’s easy to get outnumbered on defense.”

There were some cramping issues with the Hornets last week as well, but Buchan said it was related more to insufficient fluid intake than poor conditioning.

“We also have 6 or 7 kids that go both ways, so we need to take care of our liquid management better, and we’ll be talking about that a lot this week,” he said.