Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SPORTS >> Camera’s lens reveals Falcons on the upswing

By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor

North Pulaski’s Saturday film sessions are a lot more fun to watch than people might think.

Though the Falcons are 0-3 entering Friday’s 5A-Southeast Conference opener with Little Rock McClellan, film study has revealed the kind of growth first-year coach Rick Russell thinks he can build on.

“It didn’t seem anything like what it felt like on Friday night,” Russell said after seeing film of North Pulaski’s 35-6 loss to Little Rock Christian last week. “You get about 10 big plays in the ballgame that turned the game around and seven of them were on their side. You don’t see the little victories you have in those 100 other plays.”

Chief among Friday’s little victories was the 116 yards gained by Little Rock Christian’s Michael Dyer. While the standout, major college prospect scored on a 50-yard sweep and continued to close in on the state career rushing record, the Falcons held him to his lowest yardage total all season.

“The defense did a good job of containing him,” Russell said. “I think our defense played, I thought, really well. They had some good plays but we were in the spots we needed to be to make those plays.”

Defense, overall, has been one of the bright spots, Russell said. Other than some missed tackles on Dyer, Russell said his defenders have been in the right position most of the time and that he likes the way his players run to the ball on a stop.

“I think the defense is close to where we need to be,” he said.

Russell had praise for the offensive line, which helped North Pulaski gain 258 totals yards, 10 more than Little Rock Christian.

“I’m proud of what they’re doing and how they’re practicing,” Russell said of the line.

The blockers also helped the Falcons march 67 yards to the Warriors’ 6 to start the game, but the possession ended in a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by Little Rock Christian’s Keaton Curtis.

“We’ve got to eliminate those,” Russell said of the turnovers.

The Falcons will be trying to control the corners and clog the middle against Little Rock McClellan’s wing T offense. When North Pulaski has the ball, it will be trying to establish its own running game with the veer.

“I think we match up good with them,” Russell said. “I think we’ve got some things we can do to exploit their defense.”

While many high school teams favor the pass-heavy spread offense these days, Russell, with the veer, believes in a more traditional approach.

“You run the ball first and throw when you need to. You’ve got to establish the line,” Russell said.

North Pulaski’s non-conference run may have ended without a victory, but Russell thinks the first three games were good for the Falcons, and the film will back him up.

“We’ve seen everybody everywhere that we need to see them and it’s time to put the pieces exactly where they fit,” Russell said.