Saturday, October 31, 2009

SPORTS >> Blue Devils cruise past Red Devils in blowout

Leader sportswriter

The same fate awaited Jacksonville on Friday that has befallen every other West Memphis opponent this season – a blowout loss.

The Blue Devils scorched the Red Devils 42-0 at Hamilton-Schultz Field in West Memphis to remain perfect at 9-0 and 6-0 in the 6A-East Conference.

The Red Devils (1-8, 1-5) fell behind 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, and the Blue Devils set the game’s final margin before the end of the first half.

“They got on us right out of the box early and scored quickly, and we couldn’t get anything going,” Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley said. “We knew we were going to have our hands full. They’re a good team, and they outplayed us tonight.”

Jacksonville’s game plan to spread the field was hampered by the mushy field conditions resulting from the recent, heavy rains that blanketed the state and caused flooding in several areas.

“It got so dadgum muddy out there that it was hard to control the ball,” Whatley said. “We had a couple of plays here and there, and we got pretty good protection from the line, but we just didn’t make the connections, and we didn’t run clean routes.

“A lot of that had to do with the field conditions, though. It was like a pig sty out there all night.”

And it ruined Jacksonville’s game plan.

“We tried not to run the ball, we tried to keep it spread out and keep them out of the box,” Whatley said. “We just came up short.”

Junior wide receiver Kenny Cummings was one of few bright spots for the Red Devils with several catches, two of which turned into Jacksonville’s biggest plays.

The Red Devils will close out the season next week with senior night and a home game against Marion.

“We hope we can go out on a good note with it being senior night next week,” Whatley said. “Hopefully we can go out and win and take that into the off season and figure out what we need. And a lot of that comes down to preparation.”

The loss more than likely cost Jacksonville its last hopes for one of the six playoff berths from the 6A-East.

Searcy and Mountain Home, who both beat Jacksonville earlier in the season, notched victories on Friday. Searcy shut out Little Rock Hall 45-0 and Little Rock Parkview, which beat Jacksonville last week, stopped Mountain Home 33-14.

Jacksonville’s lone conference victory was over Hall in Week 6. The Red Devils’ one non-conference victory was at home against Vilonia in Week 2.

Jacksonville’s struggles Friday shouldn’t have been all that surprising, coming as they did against a West Memphis team that was outscoring its opponents by an average 23.8 points a game, an average that climbs to 32.6 in 6A-East games.

The Blue Devils entered the night holding opponents to 14.6 points a game and keeping its conference opponents to 10.2.

Its five blowout victories entering Friday gave Memphis a points per game average of 42.8 in conference.

Jacksonville’s average margin of defeat was minus 4.5 points.