Leader Blues

Monday, June 08, 2009

SPORTS >> Bost gets early look at new team

Leader sportswriter

The feeling-out process continues for new Lonoke head football coach Doug Bost.

Today, the Jackrabbits will take part in the annual Sonic Air-Raid 7-on-7 football tournament at Harding University.

The Sonic Air-Raid, along with the VYPE Select and Shootout of the South later this summer make up the Arkansas 7-on-7 triple crown. The Air Raid features four, four-team pools with championship and consolation bracket play beginning in the afternoon.

The Jackrabbits will have their work cut out for them in the pool games, starting with Pulaski Academy at 10 a.m. They will move to the main field at 10:45 to face a rebuilding Searcy team, under new head coach Tim Harper. Their final pool game will be against CAC at 11:30.

Lonoke prepared for the Air Raid by participating in a four-team tourney at Cabot on Wednesday. Hazen and Bald Knob were the other two teams.

Michael Nelson has become the likely starting quarterback with the departure from the team of junior Logan DeWhitt. Bost has moved senior receivers Darius Scott and Todd Hobson into the backup quarterback slots to make up for DeWhitt’s loss.

“It’s a big loss for us,” said Bost. “But he came to me with his reasons, and we just have to move on.”

Nelson, Scott and Hobson are all expected to participate in today’s tourney, but missing will be high-profile all-state seniors Brandon Smith and Morgan Linton, both of whom will be attending college team camps.

Both are proven assets to the Jackrabbits. Running back Smith rushed for almost 900 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last season as a junior, while Linton made the majority of his noise on the defensive side with 63 tackles as starting defensive end. But Linton also played fullback and was a reliable receiver out of the backfield.

“I already knew they had team camps that they would have to go to,” said Bost. “They’re trying to land good scholarship offers, and that’s just part of the process. We’ve had to deal with a lot of camps and academic club meetings since spring anyway. I’ll just be happy to see them all at the same time (today).”

The Jackrabbits finished up spring practice at the end of May, although bad weather kept them off the practice field for two of the 10 days. Some underclassmen used the two weeks to their advantage, including junior Blake Dill, who impressed Bost with his effort at receiver.

“He’s been making a really good effort,” Bost said. “He’s a tough kid, and he’s willing to sell his body out and dive to make the tough catches.”

Another young player on the rise in the ’Rabbit camp is sophomore Tommy Scott, who will likely see playing time on both sides of the football. Scott (6-0, 235) plays offensive guard, and has also made a serious bid for one of the vacant middle linebacker positions.

“He’s got pretty good size,” said Bost. “And his speed has gotten a lot better. You can tell he really wants to play.”

Conway, Greenbrier, host Harding Academy and Heber Springs make up division A, while Bald Knob, Little Rock Christian, Pine Bluff and Watson Chapel will be the division C teams. Conway Christian, Des Arc, Green County Tech and Rose Bud are the four teams in division D.

Each team will play three pool games. The top two teams from each division will start out in the winner’s bracket. The losers of each first-round pool game will be sent to the loser’s bracket with a chance to play their way back to the championship game at 5:15 p.m.

The Lions start pool play against CAC at 10 a.m. and end with PA at 11:30 a.m.
Harding Academy will start with Greenbrier at 10 a.m. and move on to Conway at 10:45 a.m. before wrapping up pool play against Heber Springs at 11:30 a.m.