Wednesday, October 18, 2006

SPORTS >>Lonoke will battle with Trojans for higher seed

Leader sportswriter

Friday’s game between Lonoke and Marianna at Abraham field in Lonoke has serious playoff implications for both teams. Both teams are mathematically still alive for a shot at the conference title, but neither have faced powerhouse Stuttgart.
The Ricebirds will be highly favored over both teams this year, which makes this Friday’s game between Jeff Jones’ Jack-rabbits and Trojans a likely battle for the No. 2 seed for the 4A-2 Conference.

Marianna is still undefeated in the conference with a 4-0 league record, one better than Lonoke’s 3-1 record. The Rabbits’ only conference loss was a close one in the 4A-2 opener against Heber Springs. Marianna beat Heber two weeks later, which makes the post-season scenario between the three teams that much more complicated.

Trojans head coach Billy Saia says Lonoke’s 4-3 record is a very misleading one. The head Trojan says the Jackrabbits appear to be one of the most athletic teams his squad will face at this point in the season. “I don’t know that we’ve seen anyone with as much speed as they have,” Saia said. “We played Newport, and they had a lot of speed, but Lonoke has more overall kids who are pretty fast. They have a tailback named Scales who has a lot of speed, and their quarterback Cash is athletic.

Defensively, they fly to the ball. To tell you the truth, I am very surprised that they are 4-3; it surprises me that they have lost a game at all.” Marianna has its share of quick players as well. Senior tailback Cameron Greer has led the team with 1150 yards rushing so far this season. Senior qaurterback Shannon Hardin has very balanced numbers for the year. His 930 all-purpose offensive yards are made up of 450 yards passing and 480 yards rushing. The Trojans also have a stout big man in the backfield with junior fullback Derrick Hill.

The Trojans started the season off with a loss to HWHC, but since then have clicked off five straight wins. Saia says his team has taken the success in stride so far, and hopes that the progress will continue. “We’ve done the things we needed to do to win,” Saia said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have some young kids that have moved up, and right now we are still progressing with them, but we have the opportunity to be a very good team.”

Saia says that it is not personnel or play schemes that concern him the most going into Lonoke, but tradition. He says it is one advantage the Jackrabbits have against his team hands down. “It’s been a surprising year for us,” Saia said. “We have just gelled together; we have had a lot of strong senior leadership. We don’t have a lot of tradition, which is something that concerns me. You need some tradition when you get into big, close ballgames like the one we will probably be in on Friday to help push you through.”