Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SPORTS>>Red Devils try to regroup against tough Vilonia team

Leader sportswriter

Things don’t get much easier for the Jacksonville Red Devils this week when they travel to Phillip Weaver Stadium this Friday to take on the Vilonia Eagles.

The Eagles opened their season with a hard-fought 16-13 win over Monticello last Monday night at UAPB during Hooten’s Kickoff Week, while the young Devils took a 41-15 beating at the hands of local foe Cabot.

But despite the different fortunes last week, Vilonia coach Jim Stanley said the advantage for Friday’s game may go to the visitors.

“Jacksonville is a lot better than Monticello,” Stanley said. “This is a totally different ballgame for us this week. We don’t match up with their speed very well.”

For Red Devil coach Mark Whatley, it’s the multiple looks of the Vilonia offense that is his biggest concern.

“They do two things,” Whatley said. “They spread it out, and they line up in the double-wing, full-house style offense. So they can get you with the passing game or power running, so our defense will have to do some double duty this week.”

Despite the score, the Red Devils seemingly earned a good deal of respect last week with their effort against the dominant Panthers, including from Stanley, who was in attendance.

“They gave Cabot a hard time,” Stanley said. “Yeah, they had some penalties and things like that go against them, but you have to understand Cabot has the best team in about 15 years or so. They have one of the best overall teams in the state and Jacksonville hung well with them for a long time.

“They’re going to win some ballgames this year, I guarantee you they will,” he added.

Whatley was happy with the effort against Cabot, but he also noted the numerous flags against the Devils.

“We’re going to have to do a better job getting our personnel on and off the field,” Whatley said. “We had two penalties for illegal formations, but I felt like we managed the clock pretty well and battled hard the whole game. We didn’t give up anything big to them defensively. There were a lot of positives for us.”

One area where both programs will be alike is under center. The Red Devils had a good showing from sophomore QB Logan Perry last week, and Vilonia tenth-grader Josh Noles will lead the Eagles once again after sneaking in for the game winner against Monticello late in the fourth quarter in Week 1.

With youth under center, both coaches hope for experienced playmakers to step up on both sides of the football.

“Vilonia is a lot like the Cabot team we faced last week,” Whatley said. “They’re really big and physical. They line up on you, and here we go.”

“It’s going to take a complete game effort for us,” Stanley said. “We’re going to have to be focused and play great. We can’t have fumbles or penalties and expect to win.”

Both teams did have the good fortune of avoiding the injury bug last Friday. Whatley said his team will have to get over a few bumps and bruises. For Stanley, it was a matter of improving from Week 1.

He said the team speed of Jacksonville is just what his defense needs to see before heading into the Eagles’ 5A-West Conference schedule.

“We’re going to try and keep getting better each week,” Stanley said. “We had to scrap for that one last week, and I think this week will be even tougher. This game is going to help us get ready for conference, which is why we’re playing this game.

“After playing Jacksonville, everyone else will seem like they are playing in slow motion.”