Saturday, October 18, 2008

SPORTS>>Hugh Baby’ returns to JHS as hall of famer

Leader sportswriter

In life, a person can choose to be either an observer or a doer.

Hugh Walker chose the latter.

His career now may consist of observing young baseball talent around Arkansas and three other states for the San Francisco

Giants as a scout, but that comes after a lifetime of athletics, including a near eight-year stint as a player for the Kansas City Royals organization.

Walker is one of five inductees this year into the Jacksonville High School athletic Hall of Fame. The Class of ’88 alum was all-state in baseball his senior year, and all-conference his junior year. That came in the same season that Walker and a list of teammates that included Jimbo Griffin and current Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham won the state title with a 12-6 win over Texarkana.

To say that Walker still bleeds Devil red would be a bit of an understatement.

“A lot of kids now may not realize that when we were younger, being a Red Devil meant everything,” he said. “You started thinking about it way back in the first or second grade. Back then, you knew who would go to which junior high because they did it alphabetically, so right then, you started sizing up the competition. It just meant so much.”

This year’s induction ceremony will be the second-year for the prestigious event. A who’s who of Jacksonville sports figures were inducted last year for the inaugural event, including longtime baseball coach Bob Hickingbotham and Dr. Dale Calhoon, along with local track legend Lamont Harris.

“To me, it’s right up there with being drafted in the first round,” Walker said of being honored. “Whenever Gaylon (Boshears) called to tell me, I was excited. There are a lot of quality people that I’m going to be with. It was awesome to see Coach
Hickingbotham and Dr. Calhoon get inducted last year. It’s nice to be recognized by your peers for what you’ve done.”

Walker went straight to the Royals after high school, and stayed with the organization over seven years before eventually becoming a hitting instructor for a season.

He moved back home to Jonesboro from there, and did a coaching stint at Nettleton, along with officiating football and basketball for six years. Walker then went back to college at Arkansas State. He graduated in 2004 with a major in sports management and a minor in radio/TV.

He’s still in the Jonesboro area, along with his wife of four years, Misty, and 14-month-old son Houston. Walker also has two daughters, Alana, 14, and Felicia, 12.

Walker is not an exception to the rule in his family, but rather the standard. His oldest brother Elroy was an all-state football player, and brother George was all state in both football and track. Another brother, Chad was also a standout athlete, and all three of his sisters were all-state athletes.

His deceased mother, Eunice Walker, was regarded as the No. 1 all-time Red Devil fan, which gives his induction a tinge of bittersweet, but Walker said his father George was ecstatic upon hearing the news of his son entering the Hall of Fame.

His list of accolades is endless. Along with being all state, Walker was a Gatorade All-American, national runner up for Gatorade Player of the Year, winner of the Golden Spikes award, a top-ten prospect in Baseball America, Rookie League Player of the Year, a two-time player of the year in the Northeast League, a Southern League Hustle Award winner and a team MVP for the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

With all of the different perspectives of sports from a variety of positions, Walker has only one regret in his life and career.

“I wish I would have played football my senior year,” he confesses. “I’ve always regretted that, but other than that, I absolutely wouldn’t change a single thing. There are very few kids that get to have that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I had the greatest opportunity in the world.”

That sentiment doesn’t just apply to his years as a player in the majors. His current role of major-league scout suits him just fine. Walker still remembers the day that Royals scout Kenny Gonzales spotted him at a game more than 20 years ago, and is more than happy to return the favor these days.

“When you get to congratulate a kid and tell them that there’s a contract for them, it’s just amazing to see the excitement,” Walker said. “You can see it on the kid’s face, his parents’ faces; it’s just incredible to see the joy that you bring.

“For me, it’s great to be able to reach out and give someone that same opportunity you’ve been handed.”

Walker was, and is still known to this day in Jacksonville by the moniker “Hugh Baby”. He said he doesn’t mind anyone calling him by his nickname, as long as they get those two names in the right order.

“Just don’t call me ‘Baby Huey’ – other than that, I don’t care,” he joked. “You call me something besides ‘Hugh Baby’ and there could be a fight.”

SPORTS>>Jacksonville put Thomas on path to success

Leader sports editor

Since leaving high school in 1993, Robert Thomas has been to Arkadelphia, Dallas, Denver and Atlanta.
But the former Red Devil football star has carried what he learned as a young man in Jacksonville with him everywhere he’s been.

“Growing up in Jacksonville, a lot of people had their hands on me, guiding me,” said Thomas, a 1993 graduate of Jacksonville High School who will be inducted tonight into the school’s Hall of Fame. “I was raised by a lot of different people in every part of this city.”

Guided by what he learned at the Jacksonville Boys Club and under the tutelage of Marvin and Sue Cox, Thomas got on the path to success and stardom early in his life. It carried him all the way to the National Football League, where he became a part of history as the primary blocking back for all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith.

It was an improbable pinnacle for a Division II linebacker out of Henderson State. It is the rare DII player that reaches the NFL, but Thomas, who began playing organized football when he was 4-years-old, rarely doubted his abilities and never sold himself short.

“I guess nobody expected Lil’ Bob — that’s what they called me back then — to get to the NFL,” said Thomas, 34. “Even Lil’ Bob didn’t expect it. I’m used to being told you can’t do it. But I tell people, you can’t say ‘can’t.’ I knew the odds were against me, but it was more of a relief and not a shock when I made it. It was hard work to get there but it was a blessing.”

Those lessons he learned at the Boys Club and from mentors around Jacksonville served him well throughout his football career. He did everything that was asked of him at Jacksonville High School, playing fullback, tight end, linebacker, defensive end and quarterback. He even punted for the Red Devils.

“You missed a great time if you don’t know about Jacksonville football (in 1993),” Thomas said, still clearly thrilled at the memories. “We had a tenacious defense — the Killer B’s. There was Joseph Bowden and Jerry Brown and a lot of talented guys. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

The Red Devils tied Little Rock Catholic for the conference title, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to Pine Bluff.

Because of his size as a junior, Division I schools ignored Thomas. By the time he enjoyed a growth spurt in his senior season, going from 5-9 and 185 pounds to 5-11 and 225, only DII schools had shown any interest.

Thomas chose Henderson State and made the most of it, reaching the Reddie Hall of Honor after setting career records at the school in tackles (355) and solo tackles (201).

He signed as a free agent linebacker and fullback with the Cowboys in 1998. Over a 5-year career, Thomas caught 50 passes, three for touchdowns. He carried the ball only 39 times, averaging four yards per tote. But Thomas hardly regrets his limited opportunities with the ball.

“It’s hard to say I didn’t play a big part,” Thomas said. “If there’s no (guard) Nate Newton, if there’s no (guard) Larry Allen, if there’s no (tight end) Moose Johnston, Emmitt doesn’t become the all-time leading rusher. If there wasn’t no us, there was no him. So I think we played a great big part.”

Thomas, 34, has spent the past six years playing in the Arena Football League for the Georgia Force and the Colorado Crush.

He’s finally ending 30 years of football after rupturing a disc in his neck. Thomas has three children, sons Robert, 10 and Tyriece 7, and daughter Cameron, 6. He’ll be getting married soon.

Thomas spent some time as a radio host on 102.9 but has left that to open up a towing and wrecker service. He lives in Maumelle.

As for the induction into the Hall of Fame, Thomas couldn’t be more excited.

“It is a great honor,” he said. “I love the city of Jacksonville.”

SPORTS>>Wildcats take first loss

Special to the Leader

SEARCY — A speedy and stingy Mayflower defense and what appeared to be a baffled Harding Academy offense turned into a 16-7 Mayflower victory that placed the Eagles in the driver’s seat in the Conference 3A-2 race.

The setback was the first of the season for the Wildcats and the first at theschool for new coach Roddy Mote. Both teams are now 6-1 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Eagles’ lone loss came against Class 4A DeQueen. Mayflower knocked off Class 5A Greenbrier earlier in the season.

Harding Academy recovered its onside kick to begin the game and promptly marched 49 yards in 9 plays for what would be its only score of the game.

The Wildcats’ remaining drives resulted in five punts, three possessions ending on downs and a turnover.

“We moved it OK at times between the 20s,” Mote said afterward. “We just couldn’t finish when we got it into the red zone.”

The Wildcats advanced inside the Mayflower 20-yard line twice after the opening drive but came up empty both times.

After recovering the surprise onside kick to start the game, quarterback Seth Keese connected with Ty Finley for eight yards on a 4th-and-3 from the Mayflower 43, then hit Tyler Gentry for 18 yards on 3rd-and-4 from the 28 to set up Keese’s 2-yard TD run. Zach Medley’s PAT kick gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 9:12 left in the opening quarter.

Mayflower, however, delivered a sign of things to come, though. The Eagles answered immediately, recovering another attempted onside kick. Deshaun Bagby ran 13 yards before fullback Gavin Pace rambled 32 yards to the Harding Academy one where he was hit from behind and lost the football. Mayflower’s Buck Finkbiner fell on the loose ball in the end zone for the touchdown.

Bagby ran for two points and a lead the Eagles would not surrender.

Both Bagby and Pace finished the game with more than 100 yards on the ground. Bagby totaled 123 yards on 17 carries and Pace ran for 105 yards on 22 carries. It was Bagby’s backup, though, who would later put the game on ice.

The Eagles threatened again on their second possession of the game but Braxton Bennett picked off Bagby’s reverse pass at the Harding Academy 11. Mayflower forced an HA punt and went back to work, running 10 plays before Medley sacked Eagles’ quarterback Jordan Dycus on 4th-and-6 at the Wildcats’ 24.

A possession later, Gentry picked off a Dycus pass and returned it 34 yards to the Mayflower 18. The Wildcats managed a single first down before Keese threw incomplete twice to stop the threat.

The Eagles had a chance to score again before the half. Bagby’s 53-yard run put Mayflower in business at the HA 27, but the Eagles ran out the clock and settled for the 8-7 halftime lead.

With the sophomore Keese struggling to find any rhythm, Mote went to senior backup QB Matt Lincoln in the third quarter but the Wildcats fared no better. Keese finished the game completing 10-of-27 passes for 96 yards. Lincoln completed 1-of-4, a 17-yarder to Finley.

With Bagby banged up in the third quarter, the Eagles put the ball in the hands of junior backup tailback Demetris Lasker.

Lasker carried seven times in a 12-play drive that covered 91 yards. The junior’s 5-yard TD run on 4th-and-2 and his own 2-point run set the final score.

Lasker finished with 76 yards on 9 carries and Mayflower totaled 294 yards on the ground and 377 total yards.

Harding Academy’s final drive ended on downs at the Mayflower 39 before the Eagles ran out the clock.

Mote emphasized his team’s goals are still intact following the loss.

“We’re still a state championship-caliber team,” Mote said. “Our goals are still our goals. It depends on which direction these kids want to go right now.

“I know the kind of kids I’m leading, though, and they’re kids with fire in their hearts and they’ll compete. We’ve had a setback but we’re still a good team.”

Harding Academy, which travels to crosstown Riverview next Friday, managed just 181 total yards against the Eagles. Finley led the ground game with 54 yards on 13 carries.

Mayflower hosts Barton next Friday.

SPORTS>>Panthers play keep-away, beat Central

Leader sports editor

Possession, they say, is nine-tenths of the law.

For Cabot on Friday night against Little Rock Central, it was about eight-tenths of the game.
The Panthers ran a whopping 77 plays to just 29 for the Tigers and held the ball for nearly 32 of 48 minutes to keep Central winless with a 31-7 victory at Quigley Field. Cabot improved to 6-1, 3-1 in 7A-Central play. With North Little Rock pummeling

Little Rock Catholic 49-20 on Friday night, Cabot moves into a tie for second place behind unbeaten Russellville.

The Panther defense limited the hapless Tigers to just 130 total yards and four first downs — only one after halftime.

“We think we have a pretty good defense,” said Cabot head coach Mike Malham. “We’ve got some speed this year and we run to the ball real well.”

In addition to the time-of-possession domination, Cabot also benefited from interceptions by Joe Bryant and Justin Wortman as well as outstanding field position almost the entire night. The Panthers began three of their seven drives inside Tiger territory and two more outside of their own 40.

Wherever they started their drives, they pretty much did the same thing: pound it up the gut and off tackle and occasionally throw the ball to good effect. Quarterback Seth Bloomberg completed 8 of 11 passes for 68 yards. Michael James led Cabot’s ground attack with 104 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

The game looked initially to be the breeze it ultimately turned out to be when Cabot took the opening kickoff and went 73 yards on 13 plays. But the Panther offense stalled on its next two possessions and Central struck to tie it late in the first half on Cherard Grant’s one-yard run.

The big play was Adam Meek’s 47-yard pass to a wide open Kameron Finney down to the Cabot 4.

“Our safety kind of went to sleep on that play,” Malham said. “That’s youth for you.”

Spencer Neumann set Cabot up in good shape with a 38-yard return of the kickoff out to the 43 with 4:47 left in the half.

James converted a fourth and three to the Central 34 with less than two minutes remaining and Bloomberg completed passes to Neumann and Ben Wainwright to reach the 12.

Three plays later, Bloomberg vaulted into the end zone to complete a 5-yard touchdown run and Cabot took a 14-7 lead into intermission.

“It was important to get that touchdown at the end of the half,” Malham said. “If we go in tied 7-7, they’re all fired up.”

In the second half, it was all Cabot. The Panthers added to their lead after a 48-yard, 11-play drive ended with another James’ 1-yard touchdown with 5:11 left in the third. The big play on the drive came on third and goal from the nine when Wortman caught a pass in the right flat and fought his way down to the one.

The Panthers’ next possession resulted in Logan Spry’s 35-yard field goal after Cabot ate another six-and-a-half minutes off the clock to make it 24-7 midway through the fourth period.

By the time Cabot scored its final touchdown on Jason Sled’s 1-yard run with 1:31 left in the game, Central had run just nine offensive plays in the second half. Their lone first down in the half came on their final possession with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game.

In addition to James’ 104 yards, Wesley Sowell added 64 on 14 carries and Chris Bayles had 53 on 12.

“Our two halfbacks do are doing a real good job for us,” Malham said. “We did a good job of spreading it around tonight. And the offensive line did a good job against a pretty good defense.”

Matt Bayles picked up 25 yards on five carries. Cabot rushed for 285 yards on 66 carries. Neumann caught three passes for 32 yards. The Panthers finished with 23 first downs and 353 total yards.

SPORTS>>Red Devils cash in turnovers for win

Special to The Leader

The Searcy defense played one of its best games of the season, and the offense moved the ball as well as it has all year. Jacksonville, however, came up with three defensive touchdowns and enough big pass plays to bury the Lions late, winning 40 16 on homecoming night.

The Red Devils had to overcome three turnovers of their own, as well as several costly penalties, but three touchdowns on defense helped to seal the deal.

“Our defense was outstanding tonight,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “Not everything went real well for us, but this bunch gives this town everything they’ve got every Friday night. They play their guts out and that’s all you can ask.”

The highlight of the game came on Jacksonville’s last score. The win was already wrapped up, but Searcy was driving in the final minute behind reserve quarterback Josh Rowden. Rowden led the team on a 50-yard drive, but on second down and six from the Jacksonville 7-yard line, senior defensive back Terrell Brown stepped in front of a Rowden pass at the goal line and returned it 100 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game.

His third touchdown came on Searcy’s previous drive when he picked off a Matt Ingle pass and returned it 55 yards for the score.

Not all of his production was on defense though. He also had a 33-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter that tied the game at seven, and a 30-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that gave the Red Devils a 26-10 lead.

The Lions got out of the gate quickly thanks to its defense. Searcy forced a Jacksonville fumble inside the Devil 5-yard line. On the very next play, sophomore running back Hayden Mercer scored to put the Lions up with five minutes left in the first quarter.

Jacksonville went down the field after the Searcy score, but illegal blocking penalties negated two big gains, and the Red Devils were forced to punt. The Jacksonville defense held Searcy to three and out, setting up Browns first touchdown catch from quarterback Logan Perry.

Again Jacksonville’s defense forced a short Lion drive, and took over possession from its own 8-yard line after a nice punt.

Senior running back Patrick Geans went 24 yards on first down with 15 tacked on for a face mask. Perry then hit wideout Demetris Harris for a 39-yard gain, but another fumble halted the drive and gave Searcy possession at the 25.

From there the Lions put together their best drive of the game, going 60 yards in 14 plays and settling for a 33-yard field goal by sophomore Steven Seltz. That put Searcy back up 10-7 with 3:05 left in the first half.

Jacksonville finished the half strong, driving 76 yards in 12 plays for the score. The drive was aided by a pass interference call in the end zone on third and goal from the 5. That made it first and goal at the 2, and two Geans carries later it was 14-10 going into intermission.

Jacksonville got the first of its three defensive touchdowns early in the third quarter when Harris scooped up a fumble and returned it 12 yards to make it 20-10. Searcy lost it again on its next drive when a low snap careened off Ingle’s knee and straight into defender Cory Bester’s hands. Perry and Brown hooked up on the very next play for 30 yards and the score to make it 26-10.

Jacksonville gained 473 total yards while Searcy racked up 395. Jacksonville though, was flagged nine times for 91 yards. The Lions were called for five penalties totaling 38 yards.

Ingle threw 36 times in the game, completing 21 for 202 yards and a touchdown. His top receiver was sophomore Preston Tarkington. Tarkington caught just one pass for four yards threw the first three quarters, but finished with seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

Perry led the way for Jacksonville offensively. The sophomore quarterback completed 17 of 26 pass attempts for 346 yards. He found Harris six times for 154 yards, and Brown three times for 95 yards a two touchdowns. Senior Stanley Appleby also had a good game, catching four passes for 55 yards. Geans finished with 107 total yards, 73 coming on 13 carries and 34 on four receptions.

The win lifts Jacksonville to 4-3 overall and 3-1 inside the 6A-East. Searcy fell to 1-6 and 0-4. The Red Devils will hit the road to take on Little Rock Parkview next week while Searcy will host Jonesboro.

Friday, October 17, 2008

EDITORIAL >>Justices are paid enough

Benton County Daily Record — If you remember former NBA star Latrell Sprewell, you might recall the way he scoffed at a three-year, $21 million contract extension offered to him by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.

“I have a family to feed,” Sprewell said at the time.

We were reminded of Sprewell’s comment after hearing Donald Corbin, who earns $139,821 per year as an Arkansas Supreme Court associate justice, call his job “an expensive hobby” during a meeting last month of a committee set up to study judicial salaries. Corbin also mentioned that he needed his inheritance to pay for his children’s education; evidently, that $139,821 per year doesn’t cut it.

Later, Corbin told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter that he misspoke. He said that he meant to refer to his time in the Legislature as an “expensive hobby.” He added that he probably should have kept his mouth shut on the matter.

He’s right about that. When you’re earning nearly five times the average per capita income in your state, you can’t expect many people to sympathize with your financial plight.

But enough about Corbin and his hobbies. The real issue at hand is that of judicial salaries. Arkansas is trying to determine whether a pay increase for Supreme Court, appeals court and circuit court judges is necessary. Appeals court judges make $135,515, and circuit court judges earn $131,206.

While those salaries might sound great, some lawyers can make a lot more working for a big-city law firm. We do stress “some.”
This issue goes beyond Arkansas. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts last year declared judicial pay a “constitutional crisis.” That might be overstating things a bit, but Roberts’ point was that Americans are not served well when the judiciary consists only of lawyers who are so rich that they are indifferent to the salary the job offers or of lawyers for whom the salary represents a significant pay increase. Ideally, the judge’s salary would be high enough to attract the most qualified people.

When compared to judicial salaries elsewhere, the pay rate for judges in Arkansas is fairly reasonable. Texas, for example, has eight times the population of Arkansas, but its Supreme Court justices make only 8 percent more than ours. Ohio, which has nearly four times our population, pays its Supreme Court justices only 1.2 percent more.

If legislators make these kinds of comparisons, they’re unlikely to be moved by the plea for higher salaries, especially during economic times such as these.

While there might be compelling reasons to boost judicial salaries, there is no hard evidence that doing so would improve our judicial system. Until there is a groundswell of support to boost judges’ pay, not just in Arkansas but across the nation, our guess is that legislators will embrace the status quo on this issue.

There are too many other people who simply need a job — or a “hobby.”

EDITORIAL >>Justices are paid enough

Benton County Daily Record — If you remember former NBA star Latrell Sprewell, you might recall the way he scoffed at a three-year, $21 million contract extension offered to him by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004.

“I have a family to feed,” Sprewell said at the time.

We were reminded of Sprewell’s comment after hearing Donald Corbin, who earns $139,821 per year as an Arkansas Supreme Court associate justice, call his job “an expensive hobby” during a meeting last month of a committee set up to study judicial salaries. Corbin also mentioned that he needed his inheritance to pay for his children’s education; evidently, that $139,821 per year doesn’t cut it.

Later, Corbin told an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter that he misspoke. He said that he meant to refer to his time in the Legislature as an “expensive hobby.” He added that he probably should have kept his mouth shut on the matter.

He’s right about that. When you’re earning nearly five times the average per capita income in your state, you can’t expect many people to sympathize with your financial plight.

But enough about Corbin and his hobbies. The real issue at hand is that of judicial salaries. Arkansas is trying to determine whether a pay increase for Supreme Court, appeals court and circuit court judges is necessary. Appeals court judges make $135,515, and circuit court judges earn $131,206.

While those salaries might sound great, some lawyers can make a lot more working for a big-city law firm. We do stress “some.”
This issue goes beyond Arkansas. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts last year declared judicial pay a “constitutional crisis.” That might be overstating things a bit, but Roberts’ point was that Americans are not served well when the judiciary consists only of lawyers who are so rich that they are indifferent to the salary the job offers or of lawyers for whom the salary represents a significant pay increase. Ideally, the judge’s salary would be high enough to attract the most qualified people.

When compared to judicial salaries elsewhere, the pay rate for judges in Arkansas is fairly reasonable. Texas, for example, has eight times the population of Arkansas, but its Supreme Court justices make only 8 percent more than ours. Ohio, which has nearly four times our population, pays its Supreme Court justices only 1.2 percent more.

If legislators make these kinds of comparisons, they’re unlikely to be moved by the plea for higher salaries, especially during economic times such as these.

While there might be compelling reasons to boost judicial salaries, there is no hard evidence that doing so would improve our judicial system. Until there is a groundswell of support to boost judges’ pay, not just in Arkansas but across the nation, our guess is that legislators will embrace the status quo on this issue.

There are too many other people who simply need a job — or a “hobby.”

TOP STORY > >Accused serial killer says he’s not guilty

Leader senior staff writer

Ronald Dean Charles, 31, the Cabot man who reportedly told law-enforcement officials that he had killed about 15 people in at least three states, entered a not-guilty plea Wednesday on a capital murder charge in Jacksonville District Court in connection with the death of Sandra Ann Givens of White County.

Charles earlier implicated George A. Smith of Jacksonville in connection with Givens’ murder. Smith was charged in her death and is in the Pulaski County Detention Center. Charles’ court-review date in Jacksonville will be Jan. 7, when his case will be assigned to a Pulaski County Circuit Court, the Jacksonville district clerk said Friday.

Givens’ remains were found near the Wright Cabinet Shop at the Jacksonville industrial park in a wooded area off Corey Drive. She was identified from dental records. White would have been 32 at the time of her murder a year ago.

In connection with her death, Charles was arraigned on capital murder charges in Jacksonville District Judge Robert Bratton’s court, then apparently returned to the Conway lock up.

Jacksonville Police Department detectives arrested Charles at the Faulkner County Detention Facility Wednesday, where he and Troy Allen Crook, 29, also of Jacksonville, are awaiting trial in connection with the April 9 murders of cousins Bobby Don Brock, 45, and Lonnie Franklin Brock, 62.

In addition to two capital murder charges, Charles and Crook each face a bevy of other charges related to the Brock killings. Charles led investigators to her body, and also told them of another body in northern Pulaski County off of Ann Lane, but the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, aided by cadaver dogs, called off the search after two days.

One man familiar with the area noted that it flooded during heavy rains and a body could have been carried off by the flood waters.

Maj. Andy Shock of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that he could release no further information about the other alleged murders or Charles’ alleged confession. He did say that none of the other bodies Charles takes credit for would be located in Arkansas. He said the FBI and law enforcement officials in other jurisdictions would be involved in those cases.

Givens’ family is taking care of her three young sons, William, Brandon and Johnny, according to a statement from her sister, Beverly Sills.

The Givens Family Assistance Fund has been started at the Bank of America, with all donations going directly to the children, Sills said.

TOP STORY > >Three hopefuls are battling for District 42 seat

Leader staff writer

Three candidates, Jane English, Val Yagos and Gene Mason, are vying for the House of Representatives District 42 seat being vacated by Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, who is term-limited.

English, 67, a Republican and resident of north Pulaski County, says that she wants to bring more accountability to government. She favors posting the state budget online along with a statement about each agency or program’s goals and the people it intends to serve, “so that people like you and me can see what the state is doing with our money.”

English wants to apply her past professional experience to her other priority, economic and workforce development.

She had a career with the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission recruiting new businesses to the state. She served as director of the Arkansas Manufacturers Association and as director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board as a Huckabee cabinet appointee.

She is an employer outreach coordinator and volunteer for the U.S. Department of Defense as a liaison between deployed military and their hometown employers.

English favors workforce development not only for those out of work but those currently employed. Small businesses “lack the opportunity to upgrade worker skills.” For the worker who is unexpectedly out of a job and out on the street looking for a job, new skills to offer a prospective employer are essential.

English holds a degree in economics and finance from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Val Yagos, 44, a Democrat and resident of north Pulaski County, became interested in politics and public policy during the 2007 legislative session when she worked on a bill to make in-state salvage businesses more competitive with those out of state. The intent of the bill, which became law, was to ensure that out-of-state companies were saddled with the same regulations as those in state.

From that experience Yagos says that she decided to “offer myself for public service. I wanted to be part of the process that makes all of our laws.”

Her primary areas of interest are education, health care, and economic and workforce development. She wants to see more vocational courses offered in high schools, incentives to attract more people into the nursing field, and stronger technical colleges.

Yagos and her husband, Bob, own JB Auto Salvage in Jacksonville.

She says she understands what small business owners and employers face.

Yagos holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Arkansas.

Yagos says she does not have a “big agenda” in mind if she is elected.

“I just want to be part of the process. I am just a business person, a mother, a grandmother. I feel we need more of those folks down there at the Capitol.”

Green Party member Gene Mason of north Pulaski County is also running for the open seat.

Mason, 45, works for Flake Wilkerson Market Insights and is a frequent writer of letters to the editor.

He describes himself as a conservative.

Mason ran for the state Senate in 2006 against Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy, in the Democratic primary and lost.

In 2004, Mason was a write-in candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and lost again.

TOP STORY > >Sheriff seeks fourth term

Leader senior staff writer

With early general-election voting slated to start Monday, Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson, seeking his fourth term, is being challenged by former lawman Steve Rich, who has 25 years in law enforcement under several Lonoke and Pulaski County sheriffs.

Roberson, 61, is running for a fourth-term, updating and upgrading the office, replacing older patrol cars with newer ones, fighting crime and working toward the new county jail, which could be completed by the 2010 election.

County voters approved a one-year, penny sales tax dedicated to building a new, 140-bed jail by a vote of 3,774 to 3,336. That tax is anticipated to raise about $5.5 million.

Roberson beat John Staley by a 3-to-1 margin in the Republican primary.

Rich defeated Samuel Cham-berlain 1,755 to 1,607 in the Democratic primary.

“We have a good record as far as drug arrests and domestic violence,” Roberson said Tuesday.

All of his road-deputy slots are filled and he plans to ask for two more deputies in the 2009 budget, now being drawn up.

“That would be 16 road deputies. That would help us get four out on a shift instead of three,” he said.

Rich, 49, who was a criminal investigator under former sheriff Charlie Martin, said Roberson places too much emphasis on writing tickets for traffic violations and not enough on preventing and solving crimes.

“Criminals drive cars,” Roberson said. “I think he’s running against me because I wouldn’t hire him.”

Roberson said that’s in part because his department couldn’t find records of accountability for property Rich seized while working in the drugs and special crimes division.

Rich said it is precisely his managerial experience that helps set him apart from Roberson.

He said he worked in management both in law enforcement and for Routh Wrecker Service, his current employer.

Rich worked for sheriffs J.O. Easley and Charlie Martin in Lonoke County and Carroll Gravette and Tommy Robinson in Pulaski County.

“I was working for Jim (Roberson) part-time prior to filing for sheriff,” he said.

“I want to make the department less traffic oriented, and more oriented toward prevention and working crimes,” Rich said.

“There’s areas where speed is a problem. Traffic is a good tool in the right circumstances.

“Jim’s an okay guy, I just think I’ve got more of what it takes.”

Besides working for Routh, he has worked for his brother George Rich, owner of Rich’s Wrecker Service.

He said wrecker drivers and sheriffs deputies are trained to respond to emergencies.

Other contested Lonoke races include Democrat Walls McCrary, Republican Doug Hatcher and Independent Trent Eilts, who are running to replace Dist. 15 state Rep. Lenville Evans, who can’t run for reelection because of term limits.

Other contested races include Democratic County Clerk Dawn Porterfield against Republican Cassandra Pitts; Circuit Clerk Deborah Oglesby, a Democrat, facing challenger Susan Denise Browne, a Republican; Dist. 13 JP Mark Edwards, a Republican, against Kenny Ridgeway, a Democrat, and Dist. 5 JP Lynn Clarke, a Republican, against Barry Weathers, a Democrat.

Turnout for the May primary was 7,256, more than the usual 5,000, according to Larry Clarke, who was election commissioner at the time.

TOP STORY > >Council agrees on youth curfew

Leader staff writer

Juvenile arrests have been going up about 10 to 15 percent a year, according to Jacksonville Police Chief Gary Sipes, and a large number of those arrests are happening during the day.

That caused the Jacksonville Police Department to ask for a daytime curfew which the city council unanimously approved Thursday night.

Sipes said in 2006 the police made 421 juvenile arrests, in 2007 that number jumped to 474, and for this year the police are on a pace to make more than 500 juvenile arrests.

The police chief said many of the juveniles arrested were involved in daytime burglaries. “We are trying to get the parents to take responsibility,” he explained in defense of the new ordinance.

Alderman Terry Sansing ex-plained that the city approved a nighttime curfew for juveniles 17 years ago. “We were having problems with juveniles committing crimes late night. Once the ordinance went into effect and police started to make curfew arrests, we found that many of the juveniles that were in Jacksonville late at night weren’t from Jacksonville. We are now having a juvenile crime problem during the day and that’s why this ordinance came up.”

The chief said the first time a juvenile is caught out on the street during school hours without a valid reason, the youngster will receive a warning and parents will be notified. The second time the juvenile will receive a citation and the parents will be notified. The third offense, the parents will be cited.

The ordinance states the daytime curfew is needed because “recent arrests and criminal activity have increased, and the police department has noticed an unusual and unacceptable number of school age youth involvement in various criminal activity through these incidents.”

The ordinance makes it illegal for any person under the age of 18 to “be or remain in or upon the streets, public parks, playgrounds, vacant lots, or to ride and/or drive in or upon, over, or through the public streets and/or public parks within the city” while school is in session.

Before voting, Aldermen Avis Twitty wanted to make sure there was a provision for youngsters who were just 17, but had already graduated from high school.

Twitty was assured that the ordinance contains that provision. Also youngsters that are at work or with parents during school hours are also exempt.

City Administrator Jay Whisk-er said the focus of the ordinance is on those youngsters who have been expelled or suspended from school. “If a student is not at school, we want them at home,” he said.

Enforcement of the ordinance will start Nov. 1.

In other council business:

Police Chief Gary Sipes, in his monthly report, said his department responded to 2,895 complaint calls during September.

Police opened 204 felony cases, while closing 103, made 350 arrests, and served 262 warrants during the month.

In September, more than $119,695 worth of items were reported stolen, but the police recovered $276,695 worth of items.

In his report to the council, Fire Chief John Vanderhoof said his department responded to 101 rescue calls, 60 still alarms, 14 general alarms and had 212 ambulance runs during September.

Fire loss for the month was estimated at $8,800, while fire savings, based on insurance estimates from the departments quick response and efforts, was placed at $94,200.

Public Works Director Jim Oakley said the animal shelter took in 136 dogs and 93 cats during September. No cats were returned to owners, but 32 dogs were. Shelter officials were able to adopt out 19 cats and 48 dogs, while 63 cats and 63 dogs were euthanized.

Four bite cases were reported to the shelter. A stray boxer mix attacked a Rottweiler, while a stray cat bit a woman. Both the stray dog and cat were euthanized. A Yorkie mix bit his owner as the owner tried to put the dog in bed, and a German shepherd bit another dog on Lenora Street.

In his monthly report, City Planner Chip McCully said the engineering and code enforcement departments issued 12 building permits and nine business licenses during September.

TOP STORY > >Seismic shift in PCSSD as unions gain

Leader senior staff writer

Signaling a seismic shift in the balance of power, board-member allies of Pulaski County Special School District’s powerful teachers’ union Tuesday elected Mildred Tatum as school board president, denying a second term to Charlie Wood.

By a 4-3 vote last month, after several false starts in recent months, Wood and fellow board members Pam Roberts, Danny Gilliland and Shana Chaplin finally succeeded in withdrawing recognition of the Pulaski Association of Support Staff as bargaining agent for bus drivers and other non-certified personnel, firing a warning shot across the bow of the Pulaski
Association of Classroom Teachers in the process.

But Roberts didn’t run for re-election, and when Tim Clark, who ran unopposed for the Maumelle-area seat, took her place Tuesday, he served notice immediately that he had a different agenda.

First he joined board members Tatum, Gwen Williams and Bill Vasquez to block Wood’s proposed addendum to the agenda. The three he joined each have a record of support for issues important to the two unions.

Clark has already said he would review the board’s action in withdrawing PASS’s recognition, which came after the board, Wood in particular, was displeased with the union’s contract offers.

He previously told The Leader that he wanted to make sure the process was fair and that PASS had an ample opportunity to review the district’s final contract offer and make a counter proposal.

Then, Clark threw in with the three union-friendly board members, electing Tatum over Wood for president, Vasquez over Chaplin for vice president and Williams over Gilliland for secretary.

In speaking for his own reelection, Wood said, “This is the critical year for the district (regarding release from the desegregation agreement) and I want to see it through to the finish.”

Following the elections, PACT President Marty Nix rushed from the room to contain her mirth, returning later behind a big grin.
Clark also joined Tatum, Vasquez and Williams in declining to rehire the law firm of Bequette and Billingsley to represent the board in matters other than desegregation.

Bequette and Billingsley have represented the district for years. Recently at least, Jay Bequette’s counsel to the board has been at the expense of the unions.

“The board can’t do anything without checking with Jay,” said Tatum in recommending the change. “Jay is not a board member.”

Clark and Superintendent James Sharpe said they would draw up a request-for-qualifications advertisement seeking to hire new board lawyers.

If the new alliance holds—and it’s too early to know—the changes could be far-reaching.

First, the board could recognize PASS as the support staff bargaining agent, as early as the November board meeting, earlier if a special meeting was called.

Clark’s election improves the chances for larger salary increases for all employees at contract time.

It could also increase the number of schools where teacher-dominated site-based decision making councils are recognized and also whether or not schools operate on the seven-period day or the modified A-B block schedule.

The vote may represent a setback for principals, whose authority is challenged by site-based councils, and particularly to Jacksonville Boys Middle School Principal Mike Nellums, who is often at odds with the teachers’ union, but apparently not with the teachers at his school.

It is unclear if the shift in power threatens the board’s endorsement of a standalone Jacksonville school district.

The board’s vote of support recently was unanimous, but the teachers’ union is concerned that its members could be shuffled, assigned to schools they don’t want and that PACT and PASS might have no standing in a Jacksonville district.

TOP STORY > >Air show today, tomorrow

Leader staff writer

The skies above Little Rock Air Force Base this weekend will be slashed with more blue and filled with gold as the Navy’s Blue Angels jets and the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team headline the entertainment for the thousands expected to attend this year’s air show.

The Golden Knights will perform at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Blue Angels will fly in formation at 3:30 p.m. today and Sunday.

Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. Admission and parking are free and open to the public.

The Blue Angels will be featured for the second time in two years. The group of F/A-18 Hornet pilots will demonstrate precision and grace while averaging 400 miles per hour and pulling seven G’s.

The group will perform aerobatic maneuvers, such as a four-plane diamond formation, while at the same time, two solo planes perform movements of their own. Another maneuver the Blue Angels will perform is their famous, tight six-jet delta formation.

Capt. Kevin Mannix, piloting the No. 1 plane, is a native of Lindenhurst, N.Y., and has spent 22 years in the Navy. He was a commanding officer in Japan before being chosen to command the Blue Angels.

“I get a smile in seeing the audience’s faces when they see what the military is capable of. Having traveled the country with the tour has renewed my faith in their patriotism. It’s amazing how supportive Americans are of their military. It is impressive,” said Mannix on Friday.

Mannix, whose tour ends in November, said, “My biggest fear is retiring and having to get a real job for a living.”

Piloting the No. 4 Blue Angels plane is Maj. Clint Harris of the Marine Corps. Harris is originally from Senath, Mo., and went to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, graduating in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing technology.

“I have always had an interest in flying and always wanted to be a pilot. In college I learned of a program that would allow me to be a pilot in the Marine Corps,” said Harris.

“It takes an average of 10 years to gain the experience needed to become a Blue Angels pilot,” Harris continued. “We apply to the Blue Angels and are chosen from our aviation skills and a desire to become a career-oriented officer.

“The best part of being a part of the Blue Angels is having a positive influence to teens and adults across the U.S.,” said Harris.

After his two-year tour ends in November, Harris said he will be stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., assuming the duties of an infantry officer.

During the air show season, the Blue Angels have seven pilots who are stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. During the winter months, the planes are stationed at the Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.

The Blue Angels have flown in the F/A-18 Hornets for 21 years. The group has performed since 1946. They serve to represent the Navy and Marine Corps and enhance recruiting.

Another main attraction at the air show is the Army’s Golden Knights skydivers. The skydivers, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., have been jumping out of planes and entertaining audiences at air shows for more than 44 years. The parachute teams will jump out of a plane and free-fall reaching speeds up to 120 mph. The team will be performing aerial movements and formations before landing on a specified target.

The Golden Knights will have 10 people performing this weekend, including Master Sgt. Khalida Hendricks, who is one of five women in the entire Golden Knights program.

Hendricks, originally from Los Alamos, N.M., has been with the Army for 11 years and is trained in military intelligence and has paratrooper experience.

“I was an airborne paratrooper in 1997. The next year I went with my best friend on a free-fall jump from an airplane at a skydiving school in California,” said Hendricks.

In 2006, Hendricks went to the Golden Knights selection-and-assessment program. She became a member of the Golden Knights the following year. She is currently on a three-year tour.

“Jumping out of the plane is the most free experience you will ever have. When you first start out you get nervous. But after a while all you can think about is how fun it is,” Hendricks said.

“I have 1,280 free-fall jumps in my career,” Hendricks added.

Also soaring in the air will be the Trojan Horsemen; the T-28 Warbird formation and acrobatics team; the Viper West F-16 demonstration team; the C-17; Fat Albert Airlines, and the Air Force’s Air Combat Command Heritage Flight. Mike Rinker of Elkins will pilot Pink Floyd, an SU-26 aircraft, and the Disabled American Veterans’ B-52, Special Delivery will also be there.
The air base’s own C-130 aircraft crews will show what the planes do in combat: paratroopers will jump in a display of military power and crews will drop heavy equipment and other cargo.

Five solid hours of flying and military-related entertainment will be available at the open house. There will also be static displays of military aircraft and the crews who fly them.

Souvenir, food and information booths will be available.

All visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. No coolers, pets or backpacks are allowed at the open house. Due to limited parking, RVs will not be allowed on base.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

SPORTS>>It’s Wildcats vs. Eagles in battle for first place

Leader sports editor

It may be the most critical contest of the regular season and a conference title may be on the line, but Harding Academy coach Roddy Mote is treating this week’s battle with Mayflower as just another game on the schedule.

The undefeated Wildcats have faced few challenges in outscoring their opponents 231-86 on their way to a 6-0 start. Their season-opening 30-15 win over Pocahontas may have come as close as any to providing even a hint of drama.

But a challenge awaits this Friday night at First Security Stadium. Mayflower brings a 5-game winning streak and a 3-0 record in the 2-3A Conference into the game. The Eagles (5-1 overall) have nearly identical numbers to the Wildcats in outscoring their foes 235-89.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Wildcats are coming off another ho-hum 39-14 road win over previously unbeaten Barton, while Mayflower dispatched Rose Bud, 60-16, last Friday. Harding Academy and Mayflower sit atop the conference standings so first place will be on the line.

“We’re going to practice and prepare like we’ve done every week,” Mote said. “The game may have great implications, but we’re treating it like it’s the Week 7 game. This game won’t define our season.”

That said, Mote recognizes that the Eagles present an array of challenges no other foe has through the first six weeks. It all starts with DeShaun Bagby, a speedy tailback, who ran for 134 yards on just five carries against Rose Bud. He also caught three passes totaling 127 yards and two touchdowns. But to focus on Bagby is to allow all the other Mayflower weapons to do significant damage.

The Eagles run out of the Spread behind junior quarterback Jordan Dycus, who split time at the position last season. His emergence has made the difference from last year’s 7-5 club, according to Mote.

“That I think sets them apart from last year, is their quarterback play,” he said. “He runs the offense so well and he can throw and run.”

Harding Academy beat the Eagles 34-14 a year ago.

When Dycus isn’t handing off or dumping passes to Bagby, he’ll either be giving the ball to 270-pound fullback Gavin Pace or looking for senior wide receiver John Dale Willis. And all of this takes place behind a massive offensive line, which features as many as five players over 260 pounds.

And they’re a veteran team with nearly 25 seniors.

Mote said he’s not concerned that his team has yet to face a squad this big and this fast all season.

“We played a full game against Pocahontas,” he said. “Arkansas Baptist was with us for about three quarters. But going into the fourth quarter, we’ve felt we were in control in all of our games.

“But I can’t control the success of our opponents, or how much they’ve struggled. I just challenge our kids to compete the best they can from week to week.”

While Mote said he’s been pleased with the energy and enthusiasm his team has displayed this year, they’ve also maintained an even keel emotionally. That could be a factor when the Wildcats face such a high-quality opponent.

But for all the focus on Mayflower’s weaponry, the Wildcats’ offense, composed of a lot of new faces this season, has been every bit as impressive behind sophomore quarterback Seth Keese, who has completed 21 of his last 26 passes for 351 yards and six touchdowns. And running back Ty Finley has emerged as a potent running threat in his first season as a feature back.

Finley rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns last week. Mote said offseason work has made all the difference.

“Ty has been phenomenal in the weight room and that’s what’s separated him from last year,” Mote said. “It’s evident to anybody that looks at him. He’s a lot stronger and is running with a lot more confidence. He’s been a great leader for us, too.”

Mote, in his first year at the helm, said the 6-0 start is not a surprise.

“We had high expectations,” he said. “We always have high expectations here. We felt at the first of the year that the important thing was to get the kids in the right place, do the little things right and pay attention to details. That’s what we’ve done.”

Everyone is expected to play on Friday, though Keese continues to suffer from an ankle injury he suffered against England.

Wide receiver and backup quarterback Matt Lincoln is coming along from a shoulder injury, though is not at 100 percent.

SPORTS>>Bears back home to face North Pulaski

Leader sports editor

Has Sylvan Hills found an identity six weeks into the season?

Head coach Jim Withrow seems to think so, and two consectutive wins would seem to suggest it.

The Bears got a dramatic win over Crossett last Friday night when Tanner Janssen booted a 27-yard field goal with four seconds remaining as Sylvan Hills remained very much alive in the hunt for one of the four playoff berths from the 5A-Southeast.

“That win ought to give us a lot of confidence,” said Withrow, whose Bears improved to 3-3, 2-1 in league play. “The plays we were messing up on early in the season, now weconvert them. We’re kind of maturing a bit.”

That maturation process was evident when the Bears didn’t panic after a long Crossett pass put the Eagles up 13-12 with four minutes left in the contest. Sylvan Hills marched nearly 70 yards, converting a third and long and a fourth and three along the way to set up Janssen’s game-winner.

On the other side of the football from Sylvan Hills this Friday night will be a team whose season began with lots of hope. Most of that has faded in the face of North Pulaski’s 5-game losing streak. The Falcons played a solid second half against White Hall last Friday night but were once again bitten by the big-play bug in falling 31-17.

“North Pulaski may be 0-3,” Withrow said, “but they’ve been close in a lot of games. They got a big fullback and a huge offensive line. They play hard on defense and they’ve got one of the better athletes in our conference in (Jerald Blair). They are more than capable of winning.”

Kickoff at Bill Blackwood Field is 7 p.m.

After beginning the season in the shotgun — with often dismal results — Sylvan Hills has gone into a split-back look with junior quarterback Jordan Spears now under center.

The result: Lawrence Hodges has rushed for 246 yards and Juliean Broner 220 the past two weeks.

“It’s been really big for both of those guys (for us to settle on an offense),” Withrow said. “I mean JuJu (Broner) has been a big part of it the whole time. Lawrence was trying to get his feet under him, to see where he fit.”

Hodges was forced to play a lot on defense through the first four weeks with middle linebacker Michael Robinson out with an injury. That limited his effectiveness running the ball, especially against the likes of physical 7A defenses Cabot and North Little Rock in consecutive weeks.

“That’s just Lawrence,” Withrow said. “He’s such an unselfish guy, such a team guy. I’m proud of him. He’s coming off a 950-yard rushing season and he might have had reason to wonder. He’s never complained.”

Spears, too, seems to have benefited from the new split-back scheme.

“He likes being in the shotgun, but he realizes he can do a lot more things in split backs,” Withrow said.

Spears threw for 89 yards against Crossett, and rushed for 52 more, giving the Bears a balanced attack that Withrow’s been looking for.

After falling quickly behind 15-0 to White Hall last week, North Pulaski battled back to narrow the margin to 23-17 in the third quarter. The Falcon defense forced three consecutive punts from the Bulldogs, but could never push the go-ahead score across. White Hall finally put it away with a late touchdown.

The Falcons will bring their huge offensive line, led by 350-pounders Cliff Copeland and Carlos Donley into the contest, as well as big running back Darius Cage and Billy Barron.

But the undersized Bears have faced big teams before in Cabot, North Little Rock and White Hall, so it will be nothing new to them.

“We’ve climbed Pinnacle Mountain,” Withrow said with a wry laugh. “Now were getting ready to climb the Himilayas, I guess.”

The Bears’ defense is surrendering only 15 points a game, and Withrow gives a lot of the credit to a quick front line and the schemes of defensive coordinator Johnny Rice.

“He has them in good position and they’re blitzing and stunting on every down. We put the house and the car down on the line every play.”

SPORTS>>Panthers not looking past winless Central

Leader sportswriter

The fact that Little Rock Central is winless through the first six weeks of the season doesn’t provide much comfort for Mike Malham this week. The head Cabot Panther is still leery about the Tigers.

Cabot (5-1, 2-1 in the 7A Central) will travel to historic Quigley Stadium this week to face a surprisingly 0-6 Little Rock Central. The Tigers were picked as high as second in the league in some preseason polls, but are so far 0-3 in league play.

The Tigers, though, have lost those games by a total of only 25 points. Last week’s 16-0 shutout at the hands of Conway was their biggest loss since beginning their Central Conference schedule.

The Central offense has struggled for the most part with only 39 points to show six weeks into the season. But the defense concerns Malham — that and a recent history lesson from a year ago.

“They’re playing pretty good defense,” Malham said. “They’ve got some good athletes. And if you want to talk about a team not winning a game, I remember a 0-7-1 Pine Bluff team that came in here and beat us last year. So if you think you’re going to get a win just because someone hasn’t won yet, you may be in trouble. You better get ready.”

As far as the Panther defense, last week’s 34-21 score against North Little Rock is actually somewhat misleading. Two of the Wildcats’ scores came in the final two minutes against a prevent defense that Malham admitted may have been a little bit too aggressive.

“They got two quick ones on us,” Malhamsaid. “But I thought that overall we did a pretty good job on defense. They defended the pass well, which is something we’re going to have to do well if we get to the playoffs. The more good athletes we go up against, the better we’re going to be down the stretch.”

The Wildcats amassed over 400 yards of total offense. However, 155 of those yards came in the final minute-and-a-half frenzy. The Panther ‘D’ also allowed 323 yards passing by NLR quarterback David Hope. Two weeks ago, the Panthers gave up 35 points to Little Rock Catholic in their lone loss.

“We were pleased, but we didn’t do a good job in the last minute,” Malham said.

The Dead-T offensive attack has been on cue the past two weeks. The Panthers had more success on the ground last week, amassing 349 yards of offense, all but eight of which came on rushing plays.

“Our offensive line did a real good job of controlling things,” Malham said. “They (NLR) had only given up four touchdowns in the last five games. They posted a shutout on Texarkana and held Sylvan Hills under a touchdown, so our line did good to control the line of scrimmage the way it did.”

The Rockets stayed on top of the league standings last week with a 47-21 win over Van Buren, but with four more games left, Malham said every point counts.

“If it came down to a three-way tie, it could be important,” Malham said. “You just have to take it one game at a time and put yourself in the best position you can. But if we could win all of the games left by 13 or more, it would definitely help us.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SPORTS>>Devils try for second straight

Leader sportswriter

Friday night will be homecoming at Jan Crow Stadium for the Jacksonville Red Devils when they host Searcy. The Lions (1-5, 0-3) got their only win of the season against Jacksonville last year at their homecoming, and Red Devils coach Mark Whatley is hoping that history won’t repeat itself.

“I hope it opens our eyes to the fact that you have to be ready every Friday,” Whatley said. “Last year proved that. Hopefully we’ve learned from it.”

The Red Devils (3-3, 2-1) made it back to the .500 mark for the season and captured their second 6A-East Conference win with a 27-8 win over Little Rock Hall. The struggling Warriors kept things close until the third quarter when a big defensive stand that resulted in a big loss of yardage for Hall seemed to inject some motivation into Jacksonville. Corey Bester’s back-to-back stuffs of backup Hall quarterback Ricky Thomas moved the ball from just outside the red zone to midfield, and Hall never threatened again.

“When Corey got those two huge plays, it kind of flipped the field for us,” Whatley said. “We want big plays to inspire us, but what we don’t want to do is wait until the third quarter to see it. We want to be fired up by the time we get off the bus.”

Searcy coach Bart McFarland remembers last year’s win but also knows that Whatley and the Red Devils remember for completely different reasons.

“I know Jacksonville and coach Whatley will be after us. They haven’t forgot about it,” McFarland said. “The kids’ morale is still good, and we should have two or three of our starters back. We hope we can put it all together this week.”

A Week 3 win over Fair has been the only success for the Lions to this point. They have had a difficult start to their East schedule, including a pair of big shutout losses to Parkview and West Memphis the last two weeks.

Still, McFarland remains optimistic.

“One day at a time, one game at a time, one week at a time,” McFarland said. “That’s where we’re going from here. We don’t even think about that, we just want to get better every day.”

A second look at the win over Hall gave Whatley a little more optimism than his initial thoughts on the game. He said the team is not that outwardly emotional, but despite the lack of rah-rah type spirit, the desire to make plays is undoubtedly there.

“You try to address it,” Whatley said. “But looking back at the Hall game, we didn’t play all that bad. Maybe it’s just this team’s temperament, but there wasn’t a lot of urgency and passion. We were in control for the whole game I felt like, we just couldn’t separate from them.”

Sophomore quarterback Logan Perry put up decent numbers last week with 13 completions on 23 tries, good for 145 yards. He found senior Terrell Brown in the end zone for a late touchdown, but it was the running game of Patrick Geans, Keith Rodgers and Bester that seemed to wear down the Warrior defense.

“They ended up pressing our inside receivers, which made us rely on the running game a little more,” Whatley said. “We had 26 passes and 35 rushes, so it was pretty balanced for us. We were just tickled to put it in the end zone the times that we did.”

A 64-0 loss like the one Searcy took at the hands of the league-leading Blue Devils is always hard for any coach to take. For McFarland, not seeing maximum effort on every play was just as frustrating as the numbers on the scoreboard.

“It’s been tough on the kids,” McFarland said. “But we need to fight more, and play every play. We didn’t do that against West Memphis. We didn’t give our best on every down, and that’s what is disappointing.”

The pomp and circumstance of JHS homecoming is fine with Whatley, as long as his team is able to focus on the actual task at hand.

“My biggest concern is how everything prior to Friday affects us,” Whatley said. “We need to have our rest and keep our routine, and know that it’s time to play a football game. Hopefully, we’re mature enough to do that.”

EDITORIAL >>Will Feland is right choice

Gov. Mike Beebe has named former Lonoke County prosecutor Will Feland, a Cabot renaissance man, to serve out the balance of District 23 Prosecuting Attorney Lona McCastlain’s term, which would have ended in December 2010.

McCastlain, who has served as prosecutor for 10 years, has put criminals, corrupt officials and all sorts of troublemakers behind bars. She is leaving Dec. 31 to accompany her husband Bruce, a colonel in the Army National Guard, on an overseas assignment. He serves full-time in the National Guard and was promoted last month from lieutenant colonel to full colonel.

Feland, 56 — lawyer, businessman, minister, accountant, former president of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and a Lonoke Exceptional School board member — was one of the two people McCastlain had recommended to Beebe as her replacement.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased if I had (picked him) myself,” McCastlain told The Leader last week. “He’s professional and will serve the people well. He did it before and I know he will do it again. I told the governor I’d be leaving the position in good hands,” she added.

Feland served as deputy prosecutor before he was elected for four terms. In 1992, he did not seek reelection, going to seminary instead. Did we say he is pastor of First Christian Church in Sherwood and has a business, Pinnacle Structures, in Cabot? He is also a member of the Arkansas Coalition against Sexual Assault.

McCastlain was a tireless advocate in behalf of battered and sexually abused women and children, and Feland said his office would remain active in prosecuting such cases. The new prosecutor will have a full plate when he takes over: Lonoke County, sometimes known as the meth capital of Arkansas, is huge. There are a couple of murder trials pending and a full docket.

Feland cannot run for the office again in 2010, but till then, he’ll have plenty to do. McCastlain leaves the office in good hands.

Beebe could not have picked a better person for the job.

TOP STORY > >McCain hopes stock rally will save candidacy

Leader editor-in-chief

The pundits were saying last week that the only way John McCain could win the presidential election was if the stock market went up 3,000 points. Well, who knows?

The financial markets are rallying thanks to the intervention of central banks in the United States and Europe. Wall Street, of course, is hailing the partial nationalization of our banking system — implemented, no less, by a conservative Republican administration that has killed the Reagan revolution much faster than it took to make it happen.

Despite what McCain claims, he was nevera foot soldier in the Reagan revolution, so it’s no sweat off his back, except the meltdown will likely cost him the election.

McCain keeps falling further behind in the polls, and unless he does very well in tonight’s debate — most voters think he lost the first two debates — Barack Obama could win by a substantial margin.

Obama leads in so many states, he could end up with twice as many electoral votes as McCain — 320 against McCain’s 160, according to latest estimates. A candidate needs 270 to win. (See

The lousy economy has benefited Obama and hurt McCain. The base loves Sarah Palin, but she can’t help him on the economic front. Mitt Romney, a successful businessman, would have been an asset as McCain’s running mate. Not choosing Romney, for whatever reason — their incompatibility, Romney’s Mormon religion – is one of the reasons McCain is the underdog, although the campaign has had so many problems, it’s a wonder he’s not further behind.

We had a fine little music festival recently at Wing Ding in Jacksonville. Festival organizers had asked me to invite some blues musicians, and I found a couple of good ones: The harmonica wizard, singer and composer Willie Cobbs from Smale near Brinkley, and showman Robert Bilbo Walker from Clarksdale, Miss., by way of Bakersfield, Calif.

Cobbs was backed up by Maurice Jon Vaughn and his band. The two rehearsed before the show in Vaughn’s van in the motel parking lot while they played Cobbs’ “Jukin’” CD.

Willie sang “Please Send Me Someone to Love,” and I told him it was better than Percy Mayfield’s original, but he said no way. He told me he didn’t have any of Mayfield’s CDs, so later I burned three for him and mailed them to his home.
It was touch and go with Walker, whose pickup broke down in Arizona. He was driving from Bakersfield, and it took him and his band four days to get here in two vehicles.

They arrived in Jacksonville about an hour before showtime. He and his group — he brought along his daughter and niece, who sang with him, and also a guitar player and a drummer — put on their stage outfits at the motel and made it to Dupree Park with 20 minutes to spare.

Walker played an excellent set for 90 minutes, duckwalking across the stage with his guitar like Chuck Berry, only better, because Walker can also walk backwards, which Berry can’t.

The musicians came by the house afterward and had some barbecue. Robert and Willie put on another great show. Vaughn joined them on “Big Boss Man” and “You Don’t Love Me,” which Willie didn’t do at the festival.

They sang “Happy Birthday” to Jessica, our daughter-in-law, and we realized this was how house-rent parties must have been like when musicians dropped by, and the proceeds helped pay the rent, only we felt lucky since our rent wasn’t due yet, so we didn’t have to charge our guests.

Willie called the next day and said he’d been invited to perform at a memorial concert for Duane Allman. The Allman Brothers Band had a hit with “You Don’t Love Me” and they think Willie is one terrific bluesman, which he is.

TOP STORY > >Democrat challenges White County judge

Leader staff writer

The race for White County judge this year is a rematch between Michael Lincoln, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat Dennis Gillam who ran as an independent two years ago when he lost to Lincoln.

Lincoln said this week that his campaign is going well and voters should give him another two years on the job.

He’s established a good working relationship with other elected officials, business leaders and the public, Lincoln said. And despite bad weather and heavy use by gas company trucks, the roads are in good repair.

His arrangement with the gas companies, he said, is that if they tear up the roads, the county repairs them and the gas companies pay the bills. In somecases, the gas companies even provide part of the labor and material for repairs on gravel roads, he said.

Gillam, a retired business owner, said as he goes door to door talking to county voters, he tells them that he is the candidate with good basic leadership skills and he is the one who will work for economic development that will help the county after the gas-drilling boom is over.

Gillam, who now lives in Judsonia but is a former Beebe resident, does not accept the prevailing belief that you must be a Republican with a Searcy mailing address to be elected White County judge. But he does believe that Searcy gets more attention from that office than it is entitled to. “All our eggs are in one basket in Searcy, but 75 percent of the people live in the rural areas,” Gillam said. “For ex-ample, Beebe is very important economically, but it’s ignored.”

Gillam says tax-free bonds should be used to develop an industrial park and encourage industry to move in so that county residents will still have jobs when the well-drilling has ended.

Lincoln said a company that makes tanks has already moved to White County because of the drilling industry, but will likely stay after drilling ends because gas tanks make up only about 10 percent of the business.

As for offering incentives to bring businesses to the county, Lincoln says he is opposed to that.

“The less government intervention in the private business sector, the better off we are,” Lincoln said.

TOP STORY > >Jacksonville day curfew for juveniles

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has had a nighttime curfew for juveniles for more than 15 years, but now the city wants a daytime curfew, too.
“We want kids in school, and if they are not in school, we don’t want them roaming the streets,” explained City Administrator Jay Whisker.

The proposed ordinance, which will be discussed at the city council meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at city hall, will be geared mostly toward youngsters who are suspended or expelled from school.

If approved, the ordinance will take effect Monday, Nov. 3, so that the police will have about two weeks to prepare to implement the administrative procedures and requirements of the ordinance.

Under the ordinance, “It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to be or remain in or upon the streets, public parks, playgrounds, vacant lots or to ride and/or drive in or upon, over or through the public streets and/or public parks within the city of Jacksonville during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. when public schools are in sessions.”

This will coincide with the current curfew that prohibits juveniles from being out and about from midnight on Fridays and Saturdays to 5 a.m. the next morning, from 11 p.m. Sundays to 5 a.m. Mondays, and from 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday to 5 a.m. the next morning.

The ordinance does contain exceptions to the rule of no juveniles out on the streets during the day. Those exceptions include:

When the juvenile is with a parent or an adult.

When exercising First Amendment rights, after notifying the police or proper authorities.

When the juvenile’s parent have notified authorities of a valid reason for the juvenile to be out on his or her own.

When engaged in duties of bona fide employment.

The ordinance states that the daytime curfew is necessary for “the improvement of public facilities and the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Jacksonville.”

Also on the council agenda for Thursday’s meeting:

Aldermen will consider approving the rezoning of a parcel of land on South Hwy. 161 near Valentine Road from C-3 (commercial) to R-3 (multi-family residents). The city’s planning commission has recommended approval of the rezoning.

The council will also ap-prove the final plat of Foxwood Gardens Phase I, a subdivision of patio homes. The planning commission has approved the final plat.

The city’s fire and police chiefs will present their monthly reports. City Planner Chip McCulley will present the monthly engineering report and Public Works Director Jim Oakley will give the animal shelter report.

Aldermen will be reminded that the city will host its annual auction of excess, discarded and confiscated items at 9 a.m. Saturday at the recycling center off Marshall Road.

TOP STORY > >Early voting is soon

Early voting in Pulaski, Lonoke, and White counties begins next Monday and runs through Monday, Nov. 3.

Jacksonville residents can vote early at Jacksonville City Hall at 1 Industrial Drive from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Sherwood residents can vote early at Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center at 2301 Thornhill Drive from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday. For more information in Pulaski County, call 340-8336.

Lonoke residents may vote early at the Lonoke Courthouse at 301 N. Center St. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Cabot residents can vote early in the economic-development room located in the old Community Bank building at 110 S. First St. from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information in Lonoke County call 676-2368.

Beebe residents can vote early at the White County clerk’s office at 300 N. Spruce St. Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

For more information in White County, call 279-6207.

TOP STORY > >Drugs are easy to obtain

Leader staff writer

As many as one in five teens have abused prescription drugs at some point in their lives, according to national studies.

The drugs are easy to obtain – as easy as opening the family medicine cabinet or meeting up with a friend who has a supply.

Teens say illicit medications are as easy to get their hands on as beer.

Kids don’t realize the dangers in using prescription drugs recreationally; they think the substances are safe to use because they are medications, something that comes from doctors and drugstores. They don’t see the future risks of addiction, of damaged health and broken dreams.

Helping kids overcome a problem with drugs is not as simple as enacting consequences for bad behavior, such as grounding or taking away the car keys. When a kid breaks rules or violates accepted standards of behavior, the common parental response is punishment: you mess up, you suffer the consequences. The same punitive approach is society’s way of dealing with drug addiction, because criminal behavior is often involved. For most individuals incarcerated in U.S. prisons, drugs were involved in the crimes that got them there. Most remain addicts on the inside.

But now research into the behavioral whys of substanceabuse is leading to an approach that uses the appeal of immediate reward to help both adult and teen addicts stay drug-free, so that they never wind up before a judge.

Psychologists at the Center for Addiction Researcher at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are applying some old – and new insights – about human behavior into therapies to help individuals with substance abuse problems. The approach is called contingency management.

Contingency management is based on the premise that a behavior is more likely to be repeated if reinforced positively – whether it’s with a pat on the back, money, praise, or other tangible reward. That is nothing new. Psychologists and the rest of us, ordinary folk, have known that for eons.

The newer insight is that individuals with addiction problems tend to live more in the present than the majority. So preaching to them about the horrors and harms of continued addiction – to one’s health, happiness, and finances – may have little impact. The future seems just too far away to matter, when compared to the powerful allure of a high.

In the past 20 years, researchers have been testing out this premise; many studies have shown its effectiveness in helping break addiction for cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, benzodiazephines, opiods, and other drugs.

Those in the business of helping addicts “are beginning to recognize that people involved with drugs extensively are not very good about thinking into the future,” Warren Bickel, director of the UAMS Center for Addiction Research, said. “Immediate reinforcement is often the only thing they can deal with.”

In successful research trials, patients are required to undergo frequent urine samples – several in a week. Clean tests result are rewarded with payments of a few dollars or gift certificates and coupons for goodies such as movie tickets, eating out or store purchases for clothing, electronics, or sporting equipment.

“This is something that works; it has been replicated time and time again,” Bickel said.

When it comes to helping kids with addiction problems, the “in the moment” mindset of the typical adolescent adds to the challenge. As any parent knows, teenagers are notorious for not thinking far into the future and believing they are invincible, beyond harm.

That is why some public health warnings about long-term deleterious health effects of drugs, drinking and tobacco are not effective with this age group.

“The older, classic treatment models for adults – which is very confrontational – don’t work as well with kids,” says Chris Rule, instructor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. “The kids don’t buy into it. It doesn’t faze them in the same way as adults. They don’t see their problem. They say, ‘I know tons and tons of people who do it lots more than I do. I just got caught.’ They don’t see their problem as the start down of path to serious addiction problems.”

The UAMS Substance Abuse Services Program for Adolescents offers assessment and treatment at no cost to youth, ages 12 to 18, who qualify, as part of on-going research into effective programs to prevent and treat substance abuse problems. The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the city of Little Rock, and state tobacco settlement funding.

Parental involvement and positive incentives for desired behavior change are two cornerstones of the UAMS research trials.

“Family-based treatments have the most research support to date, and parents are required to participate with their teen in our clinic,” says Catherine Stanger, who with Alan Budney, direct the UAMS Substance Abuse Services for Adolescents. “Also, the use of incentives has been demonstrated to improve outcomes, and all of our research treatment programs use some form of incentives, either for participation or for abstinence.”

Teens accepted in the program receive 14 weeks of counseling and 12 weeks of follow-up services. They are expected to undergo drug testing while in the program and during follow-up. Parental involvement is required.

Parents are encouraged to not delay seeking help for a teen suspected of drug or alcohol abuse.

“Generally, the more severe the teen’s problem is at the time they enter treatment, the worse their outcome,” Stanger says.

“This is why we encourage families to seek treatment early in the development of a substance use problem. We generally tell families that if they have any concerns about their teen’s substance use, it is a good idea to seek an assessment to determine if treatment is appropriate. Don’t wait to see if things get better on their own.”

Tony Thurman, superintendent of Cabot public schools, concurs that “parental involvement is absolutely the key if a teen is to overcome the addiction.” An other essential, he says, is the child getting away from the crowd that is promoting the drug use.

“Typically, unless the student totally changes their peer group, it is almost, impossible for the student to overcome the addiction.”

“Think of drug addiction like an infection – if your defenses are down, you are susceptible – you’ve got to work on keeping your defenses up,” Bickel pointed out. For the teen in treatment for substance abuse – or to prevent one from ever occurring – that means parents need to work on creating the kind of life and environment that makes the youngster less vulnerable to drug use.

“Kids can’t be left alone for long periods to time, which can be a hard thing for parents to think through if both are working,” Bickel continued. “Kids need to be involved in community groups – scouting, museums, libraries, things that are pro-social, with people who are thinking of the best interests of the kids. Parents need to stay connected with their kids, sit down to dinner, hear about their day.”

Overcoming substance abuse is not necessarily a quick process. As anyone who has tried to stick to a diet knows, behavior change is tough. For the adult who has abused drugs or alcohol for years, staying clean involves in the whole person – engrained patterns and habits of life style, job skills and work ethic, friendship and family relationships, and finances.

“Addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder; learning how to be abstinent takes a lot of times trying … it involves learning how to manage how you think,” Bickel noted.

All the more reason to get help for a teen who has a substance abuse problem. Don’t wait for them to outgrow it. They may not.

For information about UAMS Substance Abuse Services for Adolescents, call (501)526-8446.

TOP STORY > >Base will welcome all to big air show

Little Rock Air Force Base’s open house is set for Saturday and Sunday and is open to the public.

The open house gives the base an opportunity to showcase its mission as the world’s largest C-130 training base and dazzle spectators with aerial and ground events from all branches of the armed forces from varying eras. The host unit is the 19th Airlift Wing, commanded by Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz.

The Navy’s premier aerial demonstration team, the Blue Angels, will highlight this year’s show, which boasts a “Combat Airlift” theme.

The Blue Angels performed at the 2006 open house, and more than 250,000 spectators were in attendance. This year’s show is expected to be even bigger.

Also performing at the open house will be the Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights.

The T-28 Warbird formation/acrobatics team, also known as “Trojan Horsemen,” will perform their acrobatics overhead.

Shockwave — a jet truck that has a record speed of 376 miles per hour on a mile-long runway — will also be performing.

Also in this year’s lineup will be the Viper West F-16 demonstration team; the Air Force’s Air Combat Command Heritage Flight; the C-17, the newest airlifter to enter the Air Force’s inventory; Fat Albert Airlines, an all-Marine Corps crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel who operate the Lockheed-Martin C-130T Hercules; Mike Rinker and his SU-26 “Pink Floyd” aircraft, and the disabled American Veterans’ B-52 “Special Delivery.”

This year’s announcer will be an Emmy Award-winner, Rob Reider, who narrates air shows around the country. “Stepping Stones to Aviation,” a program designed to enrich the education of children by introducing them to the experience of flight in a hands-on program, will let children climb into the realistic simulators, pedal down a colorful runway and taxi into a controlled airspace.

Static displays for ground-based viewing include the F-22 Raptor, the F-15 Eagle, KC-135 Stratofortress, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, EC-130 J Commando Solo, C-17, C-21, C-130E and J, B-25 and much more.

The base’s open house — more commonly known as air show — is the largest single spectator event in Arkansas, attracting people from not only around the state, but from adjoining states as well and is the largest open house in the south central region.

In what is known as a “combat capabilities” exercise, C-130 aircraft from the base will show what they do in combat: paratroopers will jump in a display of military power and will drop heavy equipment and other cargo.

Five hours of flying and military-related entertainment for attendees will be available at this year’s two-day air show/open house. Also available for spectators to participate in will be the Army’s “Virtual Army Experience.” Participants will employ teamwork, rules of engagement, leadership and high-tech equipment in a virtual Army mission.

Souvenir, food and information booths will also be available. As always, admission and parking are free. For everyone’s safety, all visitors and their vehicles will be subject to search. No coolers, pets, or backpacks are allowed at the open house. Due to limited parking, RVs will not be allowed on base.

The Little Rock Air Force Base is located off Hwy. 67/167, at the air base exit.

Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m.

View continuous updates to this year’s air show lineup and find more information at or call 501-987-2278 for a recorded informational message.

Monday, October 13, 2008

SPORTS > > Billies club Badgers

Leader sports editor

Beebe has lost just five times in John Shannon’s season-and-a-half, but the Badger head coach probably has never looked quite as stunned as he did on Friday night.
Maybe he was wondering how in the world Monticello lost two games this season after the Billies put on a dazzling array of weaponry in a convincing 41-14 win over the Badgers on Homecoming at “Bro” Irwin Stadium.
Ty Ferrell, fresh off a high ankle sprain, looked fully recovered in rushing for 209 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries. Ferrell also threw for a score. But it wasn’t just Ferrell putting on a show. Running back Lance Ridgell went for 122 more on the ground as the Billies ran over and around a Beebe defense whose hallmark is toughness and physical play.
“They just whipped our butt, bottom line,” said Shannon, whose Badgers fell to 4-2, 2-1 in the 5A-Southeast. “In every phase of the game. There’s nothing else you can say about it.”
The Billies (4-2, 3-0) started the season in the Spread and quickly fell to 0-2. That’s when head coach Van Paschal decided to return to the Double Wing attack that had been in place during his tenure at the school. That appeared to be the right decision as the Billies unleashed a combination of misdirection, speed and power to pile up 446 yards on the ground — 468 overall.
“I thought it would be a low-scoring game,” Paschal said. “But the last three weeks, we’ve played real well. Ferrell has missed almost two weeks. He came back to practice on Wednesday. It was a game-time decision with him tonight.”
Defensively, the Billies were every bit as impressive, limiting Beebe senior fullback Sammy Williams to less than a 100 yards for the first time this season. Williams managed just 99 yards on 24 carries. The Badgers finished with 302 total yards. Purcell added 60 yards on seven carries.
Monticello came off the bus ready to play, embarking on a 14-play scoring drive on their first possession, converting a pair of fourth downs along the way, to take a quick 7-0 lead.
The Billies put 10 in the box on Beebe’s first play from scrimmage, but an option play to Brandon Purcell was good for 36 yards. Beebe had half a dozen big plays on the night, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The drive stalled and Monticello struck quickly, going 67 yards in five plays with Ridgell running a counter 36 yards to paydirt and a 14-0 lead, still in the opening period.
“We knew they were good,” Shannon said. “But we were getting better each and every week and figured we could match them and be as physical, and more physical than they were. But we weren’t. And that’s the disappointing thing, we lost the hitting game tonight and that’s suppose to be our trademark.”
Beebe’s offensive line finally began to open up some gaps on its next drive and Williams and Purcell took advantage as the Badgers marched 72 yards in nine plays to get right back into the ball game at 14-7 less than three minutes into the second period. Williams went through a gaping hole from eight yards for the score.
“We were trying to find the right scheme and (Monticello) kept mixing things up on us,” Shannon said. “We finally found it, but the bottom line is, they just out-hit us, and we didn’t respond.”
But that was as close as the Badgers would get as three minutes later, Ferrell optioned around the right end 44 yards for the score to make it 21-7.
After Williams fumbled on the first play of Beebe’s ensuing possession, Ferrell found Brishen Matthews for a 22-yard touchdown. The Billies’ second score in 16 seconds opened up a commanding 28-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Badgers mounted a drive in response, using a 50-yard Roger Glaude-to-Luke Gardner pass play to reach the 21. But the drive stalled and Beebe went into the locker room down three touchdowns.
The Badgers then did the worst thing possible to open up the second half: They embarked on an 8:15-play drive, which not only ate up valuable time, but came up empty as well.
Monticello took over at its own 5 and began a march that would all but put the game away, going 95 yards and eating up eight-and-a-half minutes to take a 35-7 lead.
Williams capped off a 7-play, 62-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to make it 35-14 with 4:14 left in the contest.
“We could have tackled better, run better, and blocked better,” Shannon said. “We just didn’t play very good at all and when you don’t play well and you’re playing a team that good, you get your butt kicked. That’s what happened tonight.”
Beebe will try to bounce back next week at McClellan.

SPORTS > > Smith captures medalist honors; Panthers second

Leader sports editor

Cabot coach Ronny Tollett sure wouldn’t mind seeing the state of Arkansas adopt the high school golf tournament format most of the rest of the country uses to determine state champions.
In Arkansas, teams play a one-day, 18-hole state tournament, not enough, in Tollett’s estimation, to take the best measure of the best teams in the state.
“Every other state does two days, some three,” said Tollett, a couple of days after his Panthers settled for second, three strokes behind Conway, in the 7A state tournament played Tuesday at Cypress Creek Golf Course. “Perhaps some day we will. It’s equal for everyone, but you hate to go to PGA event and see who the best player is over just one day. One or two swings can cost you the whole deal.
“But I’m not making excuses. It’s the same for everyone and Conway was definitely the best team.”
While Cabot finished second, Panther sophomore Hunter Smith earned medalist honors on Tuesday with a 72.
Cabot was coming off a disappointing 2007 season. That disappointment wasn’t the result of poor play last year, just circumstances. The Panthers shot a state tournament-best 310 last season, but had failed to qualify as a team and thus, were ineligible for the title.
The Panthers went into this fall with the very realistic goal of capturing the 7A title and, after winning the 7A-Central Conference tournament on Sept. 23, they were right on schedule.
But other than Smith, the rest of the Panther squad underperformed based on their meet showings throughout the fall. Tollett blamed it on very difficult conditions, which combined wet fairways that lengthened the 6,800-yard course, with gusty winds that dried out the greens and made the tricky pin placements all the more treacherous.
After Smith, the other two Panther golfers who made up Cabot’s top-tier threesome struggled on Tuesday. Nicklaus Benton fired a respectable, though disappointing 76, while brother Colby Benton shot 79.
“Nick has been an excellent player since he got here as a ninth grader,” said Tollett of the senior Benton. “He felt like he let everybody down, but he had blisters on his hand and had a couple of problems on a couple of holes before he could get that taken care of. He’s been our most consistent player all year.”
Rounding out Cabot’s scoring was Cody Webster’s 83 and Kevan Sharp’s 85.
Conway, meanwhile, which finished third in the conference meet, six strokes behind Cabot, had three players finish in the top eight and four finish at 80 or below. The Wampus Cats won despite having a player disqualified for turning in the wrong score after posting an actual 73.
Ironically, the Panthers posted the exact same score (310) that they did at last year’s meet.
“I would have thought we’d done better than that this year,” Tollett said. “We’ve shot under 300 a lot this year. Hunter could have shot lower but couldn’t get any putts to fall. He left himself in good position but the holes were in some tough spots. But he played solid and steady.”
Smith made two birdies — only one with a one-putt — to go along with two bogies.
“Everyone understood they had to shoot pretty well,” Tollett said. “Other than Hunter, our guys ballooned four to six strokes over their average and that was the difference. They were disappointed.”
But six of Cabot’s nine golfers will return next season, including Smith and Colby Benton. All have played at even par at some point this season and all are, in Tollett’s words, “accomplished golfers.” So a 2009 state title is within reach.
“Everybody would like to think that you can put together that great round as a team and win it,” Tollett said.