Tuesday, June 09, 2009

SPORTS >> Lions’ showing at tourney no cause for worry

Leader sportswriter

A 1-5 record at the Sonic Air Raid 7-on-7 football tournament at Harding University on Saturday didn’t leave new head coach Tim Harper too upset.

Searcy also took part in a team camp at Ouachita Baptist University two days earlier, and the full-contact scrimmages at OBU showed Harper what he wanted to see — his kids playing physically.

“It makes me feel really good and confident,” said Harper. “We played some elite teams in the state of Arkansas, and did pretty well. They came out with intensity and played really physical.”

The Lions’ only win in the Air Raid tourney was a 35-0 rout of Rose Bud, which went winless in five games, but three other games finished closely.

Morning pool play resulted in three losses for Searcy. The Lions started with a 20-6 loss to CAC before falling to Lonoke 19-14. Searcy finished out the preliminary round with a 28-12 loss to Pulaski Academy when the Bruins picked up two late scores after trailing early.

“That’s their forte,” said Harper. “That’s what they do more than anything else. Anyone that knows my style of football knows that we’re going to run the football first. We want to be able to pass and have balance, but we will be more of a running team, something they haven’t seen around here in a while.”

Harper used the tournament to continue his evaluation of his new squad. That included the use of four different quarterbacks. Senior Matt Ingle and junior Josh Rowden took the majority of the snaps, but Dezmund Stegall and Jared Eaves got in some throws.

“They all had their moments,” said Harper. “All of them looked pretty good at times, but nothing is locked in at this point. We’ll continue to evaluate everyone through the summer. We’re going to keep stats on everyone in our 7-on-7 league and evaluate everything once fall is here.”

The Lions ended up in the consolation bracket in the afternoon, where they began with a 17-14 loss to crosstown school and tourney co-hosts Harding Academy, but rebounded with a 35-0 win against Rose Bud. Searcy closed out tournament play with a narrow 19-12 loss to Conway.

“We didn’t play real good, but we honestly haven’t worked on our passing much up this point, or our secondary either for that matter,” Harper said. “Three of our games that we lost were by less than one score, so we were pretty happy for no more than we’ve worked in those areas.”

It was Harper’s first year to be a part of hosting the annual tournament, which serves as the first leg of the Arkansas 7-on-7 triple crown, along with the VYPE Select and Shootout of the South tournaments later this summer.

“I thought it went off pretty well,” said Harper. “It was well-organized, and the Lion-backers and the folks over at Harding Academy did a good job of putting it all together. The organization and the turnout were both really good.”

The Lions began 7-on 7 league play on Monday.