Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

SPORTS>>Shielding their quarterback focus this week for Jackrabbits

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Regrouping offensively is the focus this week for the Lonoke Jackrabbits when Southside Batesville visits James B. Abraham Stadium this Friday at 7 p.m. The Southerners have had their share of struggles since opening the season with a 34-29 win over Mountain View. They have since dropped four straight, and have been outscored 118-32 since the start of 2-4A Conference play two weeks ago.

One thing that can be said for Southside Batesville (1-4, 0-2) is it is starting its league campaign off against some of the toughest teams in Class 4A football. The Southerners took a 62-12 beating at the hands of perennial contender Stuttgart in Week 4, and didn’t fare much better last week in a 56-20 loss to Clinton. Friday will mark the second time in three weeksthat the Southerners have faced a top-five team.

“Every week in conference play, you have to be focused on that game,” Lonoke coach Jeff Jones said. “You have to stay focused on that game, and what you’re trying to accomplish, which is getting another win in conference.”

Lonoke (4-1, 2-0) had an easy time last week in a 35-6 win at Bald Knob, despite a few woes at the offensive line. Senior quarterback Rollins Elam, who is known primarily as a pocket passer, was forced out on a number of occasions against the Bulldogs, though he tossed three touchdown passes.

“We’ve had some breakdowns in our pass protection,” Jones said. “It’s not been real consistent. We kind of fixed things last week when we got into the second quarter, but we’ve just not executed as consistently as we need to. We want to shore up that area and improve it.”

Jones said the plan is to provide a refresher course on blocking schemes during practice this week.

“We want to focus on a lot of the fundamentals,” Jones said. “Just doing drills and reps, and making sure that we’re all on the same page.”

One thing that has not been inconsistent for Lonoke the last two weeks has been its defense. The ’Rabbits held Heber Springs for an easy win in Week 4, and the secondary came up huge last week with five interceptions.

“We really feel like our defense has been improving,” Jones said. “The way they played last Friday night, swarming to the football. The secondary did a good job. We’ve seen a lot of improvement there.”

The Southerners, while not loaded with talent, do have looks that concern Jones.

“One thing they can do is run in the double wing, and if they get a big play and move downfield, they will turn around and jump into the spread,” Jones said. “You really have to be ready to adjust for things like that. It can cause you fits.”