Leader Blues

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

SPORTS >> Badgers battle Panthers

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

Tradition is not an easy thing to build. Just ask John Shannon and Randy Tribble.

For Shannon, now in his third season as head coach at Beebe, the majority of that tradition building is over. The Badgers have gone to the playoffs each of Shannon’s first two years and won their first postseason game in six years against former league rival Blytheville, 35-22, in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

For Tribble and his Greenbrier Panthers, the tradition-building process is ongoing. The Panthers went 1-9 last year in their first season under the former Harding University head coach.

This year, the Panthers return a handful of starters, but most importantly, have had a year to adjust to Tribble’s system.

The teams will begin to see how their traditions, or traditions in the making, stand when they collide at A.S. “Bro” Erwin Stadium in Beebe on Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

“Overall, I think we match up well with our speed and our size,” Shannon said. “Now it will be a matter of who executes.”

The Badgers got a tune-up when they played Searcy in a benefit game last week. Beebe’s offense was able to move the ball consistently, but killed itself with turnovers.

“We just went back and stressed fundamentals,” Shannon said. “We worked hard on Thursday and Friday. We didn’t really do anything drastic, we just went back to our fundamentals.”

Searcy tried some passing during the scrimmage, but mostly stuck with the run. Tribble will have Greenbrier’s spread offense looking to throw considerably more Friday.

“Anytime you see something different, it’s a concern,” Shannon said. “But we worked all summer with our 7-on-7 program, and we worked on it all through the spring also. We feel like we’re going in with a good game plan. Hopefully, we will find out if what we’ve done will work.”

Greenbrier attended the four-team scrimmage at Pulaski Robinson last Monday, and took on Mills and North Pulaski.

Greenbrier came alive in the second half of the North Pulaski scrimmage with a pair of passing touchdowns after junior running back Hunter Winston scored the Panthers’ lone, first-half touchdown on a 20-yard run. Shannon made it a point to check out the scrimmage and was impressed with Greenbrier and Winston.

“They’re not bad offensively,” Shannon said. “They looked a lot tougher than last year. And No. 27, you have to know where he is at all times.”