Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SPORTS>>Red Devils should get past ’Cane ... barely

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

It’s hard to believe that the 2008 season has already completed its first month. We were oh-so-close to a perfect mark for the first time last week until those darned Bulldogs from White Hall knocked off Sylvan Hills. The upside was that our 8-1 record gave our numbers for the season a good boost up to 23-8.

There are some extra hard picks for Week 4. The Badgers, Jackrabbits and Wildcats all have good chances at dominating wins, but most of the other local games are toss-ups.

JONESBORO AT JACKSONVILLE

This is a vital 6A-East matchup that features two teams which opened league play with wins last weekend. Fourth-year Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley has a young football squad, but also has an upperclassman in Patrick Geans, who might just be one of the most underrated running backs in the state.

Randy Coleman’s success at Jonesboro has been immediate with a 3-1 record so far. Coleman’s hurry-up style offense is a drastically different look from former coach Jim DeVazier’s slot I set.

The defensive line appears to be the major strength of the Golden Hurricane, which could pose a problem for a young quarterback like Red Devil sophomore Logan Perry. Perry had an outstanding performance against Mountain Home last Friday, but may have to rely more on his backfield than his arm this week.

Jacksonville 25, Jonesboro 21

CATHOLIC AT CABOT

This series has proven quite dynamic over Cabot’s first two seasons in the 7A-Central.

The Panthers got their conference season off on the right foot with a win over Conway, and now look to make it 2-0 in Central play with their first conference home game. The buzz is loud over in that part of Lonoke County right now, which will mean an even bigger crowd than normal.

It will be another close one, but the Panthers will be too pumped up by the crowd to let it slip.

Cabot 21, Catholic 17

BEEBE AT NORTH PULASKI

Badger fullback Sammy Williams has flirted with 200 yards since the first game of the season, and this could be the week. This battle of full-house offenses doesn’t look very lopsided on paper. In fact, the numbers on North Pulaski’s offensive line are somewhat larger than Beebe’s in a few spots, but the biggest difference between these two clubs is the level of execution.

Beebe will pick up its first conference road win as they prepare next week for what very well could be an early 5A-Southeast Conference title game against Monticello. It’s the start of a two-game home stand for the Falcons, who will host White Hall next week.

Beebe 35, NP 7

SYLVAN HILLS AT MILLS

This one might be the hardest pick to date, but here goes.

The Sylvan Hills defense has been mostly solid, but the offense has not put up a lot of big numbers so far. Mills is practically in the same boat, not counting the unexpected beating it handed Jacksonville two weeks ago.

Both teams lost their openers last week, so the loser of this one will be pretty far back in terms of getting to the playoffs. The Comets appear to have a few more weapons at their disposal while the SH arsenal is still trying to reload after losing their Swiss Army Knife of a quarterback from last year.

Junior Jordan Spears is still young at the quarterback spot for the Bears this year, while the Comets have experienced and quick senior Bentrell Cobbs.

Mills 18, Sylvan Hills 14

LONOKE AT BALD KNOB

The Bulldogs have a terrific quarterback in Chad Cates, but unfortunately for them, they lack the physical line to stave off the fast and physical Lonoke defense. Heber Springs spent the entire second half running away from Joel Harris and company, and featured more team speed than what Bald Knob will present.

Bald Knob coach Paul Johnson has said that intelligence and field awareness can make up for shortcomings in athleticism and size at certain spots on his defense, but the biggest thing the ’Dogs will probably end up being aware of is how difficult it is to catch Michael Howard and the Jackrabbit receivers.

Rollins Elam will take this quarterbacks’ duel, hands down.

Lonoke 55, Bald Knob 23

HARDING ACADEMY VS. ENGLAND

The Mike Morrison-coached Lions are one of few 2-3A teams expected to give much of a challenge to Harding Academy this year. England now runs out of the double-slot after finding themselves dissatisfied with last year’s 4-7 showing in their former conference.

The Wildcats have not missed a beat in switching from the Shoemaker to the Mote era, and should come away with win number five this week.

Harding Academy 45, England 26

RIVERVIEW AT ROSE BUD

The Raiders have to start building their tradition somewhere, and in the first few years, a lot of that will depend on getting wins against fellow upstart teams such as this week’s Ramblers.

Basketball is tops at both of these White County schools, but we believe that Riverview will eventually be a school known for being good in all sports. Rose Bud does have the advantage of having two years of varsity play already under its belt, but many of its skill players have just as limited experience as the Raiders.

Riverview made history in its season-opening win over Marked Tree at home, and will get their first-ever 2-3A Conference win on the road this Friday.

Riverview 38, Rose Bud 32

SEARCY AT PARKVIEW

Now that six seeds will go to the playoffs for both conferences in Class 6A, a game like this now takes on more meaning than ever. Both teams have really tough games ahead of them next week (Parkview at Marion, Searcy hosts West Memphis), so a win here for either team will be big. The Patriots have had a slightly better showing than Searcy to date, and should be able to rebound from last week’s heartbreaking 47-46 loss to Jonesboro.

Parkview 31, Searcy 22