Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

SPORTS>>Most games seem fairly easy to pick in Week 3

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Our prediction accuracy crept into the low 70s after the round of Week 2 games, but the ones we missed, boy, were we ever off the mark. We tried giving a couple of underdogs the benefit of the doubt, missing them both, which brings us to 9-4 on the young season.

I suppose it would be safer to go with Hooten’s on the closer games, but my confidence was so sky high after Week 1 that I began to believe my own hype.

We’re writing this one again this week before reading their picks, but most of these games seem pretty easy to call. There probably won’t be any big surprises this Friday night. Beebe at Vilonia could be a close one, and the Jackrabbits could give CAC all it wants if they can fix their offensive miscues from last week.

Other than that, the Panthers and Wildcats should have easy wins, and some of our other locals could have a long night ahead of them.

SYLVAN HILLS AT NORTH LITTLE ROCK

The Bears relish these early-season games against the state powerhouses, even though they normally end up as losses. Jim Withrow is a big-picture coach, and this is a big-picture game for his rebuilding team. One thing that probably won’t be big time is the final score.

North Little Rock 16, Sylvan Hills 3

CABOT VS. HALL

We like to try cautious optimism when making picks. But, there is little optimism for Hall’s chances when it comes to this one – only caution. The Panther offense will be ready to make a statement after a rough time last Friday with the small and inexperienced SH Bears defense, and Hall’s offense will get a test that it probably will never want to take again.

Cabot 49, Hall 0

NORTH PULASKI AT LR CHRISTIAN

These two clubs share the dubious honor of being routed by Oak Grove. The Warriors rebounded from their opening-game setback to the Hornets last week with a 300-plus yard performance by running back Michael Dyer in their win over Morrilton.

The Falcons will have to correct their tendency to commit penalties and turnovers at inopportune moments if they want to compete in the 5A Southeast this season.

The Warriors will roll – NP just needs to have a clean game without mental mistakes.

LRCA 42 North Pulaski 6

JACKSONVILLE AT MILLS

Even without a big win over Vilonia last Friday, we would still have picked the Red Devils to easily defeat the Comets. But now that you mention it, we think it will be even easier. The Red Devils, young or not, appear to be for real, and Mills is in the unfortunate position of being the last non-conference opponent for a team that feels like it still has a lot to prove.

Jacksonville 26, Mills 8

BEEBE AT VILONIA

It is possible for Jim Stanley’s Eagles to outscore John Shannon’s Badgers, but it will have to be done on the ground if at all. Beebe has proven itself to be among the craftiest defenses in the state when it comes to guarding against the passing game.

They downed a top-three 4A team last week by controlling the line of scrimmage the entire night, so there’s no reason to believe the defense won’t be stout against the run as well. It came to our attention last week that Shannon used our pick of Lonoke over his Badgers as bulletin board material, which no doubt explained his satisfied grin during his post-game victory interview Friday night. But we can’t extend that same courtesy to his Badgers this week.

Beebe 30, Vilonia 22

LONOKE VS. CAC
If you like seeing the ball up in the air at every opportunity, get down to Abraham Field in Lonoke this Friday and catch Jeff Jones’ Jackrabbits against Tommy Shoemaker’s Mustangs.
The games between these former conference foes have sometimes been routs and sometimes gone down to the wire, but it usually ended up as a win for the boys from Mustang Mountain. Betting against recent trends bit us in the behind last week, so we’ll take the safe bet this time around.

CAC 41, Lonoke 31

HARDING ACADEMY AT ARKANSAS BAPTIST

The Eagles historically seem to have a complex when it comes to facing the Wildcats. Arkansas Baptist has yet to allow a point against them this year, but that will most likely change in a big way this week.

Harding Academy 33, Arkansas Baptist 14

RIVERVIEW AT HARRISBURG

Give the Raiders credit, they haven’t started their program up against any cupcakes. They’ve already experienced the thrill of victory and agony of defeat in two weeks’ time, but we’re afraid the Hornets may deal out more of the latter this week. Last week’s loss to Carlisle was a learning experience for Stuart Hill’s upstart squad, and while this Friday’s game will most likely go as another early blemish on their record, Riverview may roll into 2-3A Conference play next week ready to contend for a playoff spot.

Harrisburg 38, Riverview 26

SEARCY AT FAIR

We have never in four years picked Searcy to win a football game. Fair, which was shut out by McClellan, which was almost shut out by Hall, appears to be the bottom feeders of Class 6A football, although Searcy sits in the 16th spot in the official rankings. Searcy has not won a non-conference game since 2003, but that could very well change on Friday.

Searcy 24, Fair 20