SPORTS >> Lonoke goes public, finds silver lining after defeat
There was some sense of disappointment from Lonoke immediately following Saturday’s 56-20 loss to Shiloh Christian in the 4A state championship at War Memorial Stadium.
But there was also a sense of triumph and jubilation.
The Jackrabbits held their own with one of the state’s more dominant private schools for three out of the four quarters, proving many wrong who predicted Shiloh Christian would have the 35-point lead it needed to trigger the mercy rule in the first half.
“We’re still public school state champs,” senior lineman Tyler Breashears shouted after receiving the Brandon Burlsworth award for best offensive lineman.
The Saints’ domination over the past two seasons, along with that of the 5A Pulaski Academy Bruins — who won a state championship last year — has opened the door to a debate across Arkansas as to whether or not private schools have an unfair advantage.
The Arkansas Activities Association held a vote over the summer to decide if private schools should have their own playoff system separate from the public districts, but the measure narrowly failed.
A TOUGH DIMENSION
Jackrabbits senior Brandon Smith proved able to compete with the state’s best by rushing for 140 yards and scoring both of Lonoke’s offensive touchdowns.
Smith set the tone for the ’Rabbits on the first play with a 15-yard run up the middle followed by a 9-yard carry to the right side as the Jackrabbits threatened on their opening drive.
A Saints interception ended the drive at Shiloh Christian 13.
Saints coach Josh Floyd said he was content with putting a stop to Lonoke’s passing game even if it meant not being able to key in on the all-state running back.
“He’s a great player,” Floyd said. “We tried to bottle him up in the backfield, and even then he broke some tackles. Anytime you can make someone one-dimensional, it obviously helps, and that was the goal.”
Sophomore Tommy “T.J.” Scott’s name gets called most often during kickoffs and extra points, but the Lonoke kicker/linebacker led the way defensively against Shiloh Christian with eight solo tackles and eight assists for a game-high 16.
Scott made two of his three extra-point attempts while the Saints broke through to block his final attempt in the third quarter, and Scott had one kickoff for a touchback.