Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SPORTS >> Badgers finish up spring

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

There were 50 potential players who turned out for spring practice at Beebe High School in the final week of April and first week of May. Head coach John Shannon, who will be entering his third year at the helm this fall, said he was pleased with the progress made during the two weeks of scrimmages.

“It went pretty well,” said Shannon. “We had to replace so many kids who left, but we got better each and every day. We found a lot of pieces to the puzzle, but there are still a lot more we have to find.”

In his first two years as Beebe coach, Shannon has led the Badgers to a 17-6 record and playoff berths in both the ’07 and ’08 seasons. Beebe finished runner-up to Monticello in its first-ever 5A-Southeast Conference campaign last year, and won its first postseason game in six years with a 35-22 decision over former 5A-East foe Blytheville.

The Badgers lost a number of key seniors, including the entire offensive backfield. Shannon and the coaching staff are faced with the task of replacing all-state fullback Sammy Williams, who rushed for 2,940 yards and scored 42 touchdowns during his tenure at Beebe.

They also lost quarterback Roger Glaude and halfback Brandon Pursell. Scott Gowen at quarterback and Victor Howel at running back stepped up during the spring sessions to lay early claim to those spots this fall, and junior-to-be Colby Taylor will also see plenty of playing time come September, according to Shannon.

There was also considerable size lost at the line due to graduation, but Shannon said most of that size could be replaced in the fall. He mentioned offensive lineman Dillon Jones and defensive lineman William Conley as two that had a good spring. Jones will be a senior in the fall and Conley a junior.

“We almost have as much size as last year,” said Shannon. “We’re not quite as big as we were last year, but not too far from it. We also have quite a few freshmen moving up next year, so there will still be some spots that we won’t know about until the fall.”

Beebe will participate in a team camp at Conway High School on June 8-9.