Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

SPORTS >> Falcons face Hornets, try to improve

By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor

North Pulaski will be trying to build on the bright spots when it travels to Pulaski Oak Grove on Friday.

At least there were some bright spots to be seen.

The Falcons, in their first game under new coach Rick Russell, suffered a 40-7 setback to Dumas at Falcon Stadium last week.

Though the score didn’t show it, North Pulaski was able to move the ball at times, but penalties and turnovers cost the Falcons scores.

The defense was able to keep Dumas’ college-prospect quarterback Darion Griswold off balance and the Bobcats’ spread offense out of synch.

One Dumas score came on a 98-yard interception return and overall the Falcons’ defense allowed just two legitimate scoring drives despite working against a short field most of the night.

An up note for the Falcons came late in the game in the form of an 80-yard touchdown drive.

Running back Billy Barron, 5-10 245 pounds, scored on a 12-yard run after posting some hard-nosed carries throughout the drive and Mat Ingersoll kicked the extra point.

“The plays that went wrong didn’t go wrong because of lack of effort,” said Russell, who debuted as head coach after traveling across town from Jacksonville High, where he was defensive coordinator.

“We have kids who want to be out there playing hard,” Russell said. “Those are things that you can correct.”

There is a chance Oak Grove may not be impressed by Barron, however, considering the running back they have already seen.

The Hornets are coming off their season-opening, 28-22 loss to Little Rock Christian in the Kickoff Classic at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

Oak Grove had to try to contain back Michael Dyer, the Little Rock Christian standout and the state’s top recruit.

Dyer rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns and made a game-saving tackle on defense. He clearly looked healthy after dealing with ankle injuries that slowed him in 2008.

Oak Grove is coming off a 7-4 season and a first-round playoff loss to Warren under first-year coach Mike Buchan.

While the Falcons had to contend with the passing of Griswold and Dumas’ spread offense last week, this week they will have to concern themselves with the Hornets’ run-oriented wing T led by strong-armed quarterback Deramus Sam.

It was a screen pass from Sam to Shaquille Spearmon that almost gave Oak Grove the game in its season opener, but that’s when Dyer appeared to drag down Spearmon and save a touchdown after a 41-yard gain.

Oak Grove marked its first winning year in four tries last year while North Pulaski has won just 10 games this decade.

“We have a lot of positive things to build on,” Russell said. “Our offensive line did a good job staying on their blocks and our backs ran hard every play.”