Friday, August 27, 2010

SPORTS>>Badgers, Wildcats roll

Leader sportswriter

Trumann defenders desperately chasing down Beebe ball carriers turned into a common sight at First Security Stadium in Searcy on Tuesday night.

It all started with the junior Badgers team scoring on four of its first five plays against the Wildcats’ defense to open the three-team, round-robin scrimmage, and carried over once the varsity boys hit the field two hours later.

Host Harding Academy also had its share of easy triumphs against an outclassed Trumann squad, but the Spread passing attack of the Wildcats versus the Dead-T power run of the Badgers provided an even matchup.

“We wanted to see that spread stuff, because we’re going to see some of it throughout the season,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “The first time Harding Academy had the ball, I thought our defense did a great job. They picked up a couple of first downs, but we didn’t give up any big plays.”

The Badgers did not rely on one individual ball carrier in their three offensive series. Senior halfback Colby Taylor and senior quarterback Scot Gowen were the only two players to break free on long scores, but juniors Jay Holdway and Brandon Fuller also had their share of significant gains.

“We were trying different things,” Shannon said, “trying to get different people the ball. The biggest disappointment was we had a couple of turnovers that we can’t afford to have.

“Hopefully we got that out of our system before we start for real next week.”

Taylor broke free on the third play of Beebe’s first 15-play offensive segment against Trumann and ran 55 yards for a score, and Gowen broke free five plays later for a 60-yard touchdown scramble.

Taylor also broke a long run against Harding Academy, the only big play given up by the Wildcats’ defense the entire night.

“Offensively, we were pretty much up and down the field,” Shannon said. “We hurt ourselves the first time we had the ball with two turnovers. We’ve got to get that fixed, but I was pleased with our effort and I thought we executed pretty well considering it was the first we had gone against someone live other than ourselves.”

Beebe’s defense held Harding Academy to 25 yards in the Wildcats’ first 15-play segment. The Wildcats converted two first downs, but suffered a number of motion and holding penalties.

But the second series, an eight-play goal-line drive for each team, exposed a soft spot in Beebe’s red-zone pass coverage.

Harding Academy scored on five of those eight plays, which was enough to get Shannon’s attention.

“They were doing some stuff that we really hadn’t worked on,” Shannon said. “That’s some stuff we’ve got to get fixed before we play against Greenbrier, because Greenbrier is going to do the same kind of stuff to us. We had guys in position who just didn’t make plays.”

Shannon deemed the scrimmage a success and was pleased with the offense, with the exception of a pair of early turnovers, but he also said there is still some work to be done on defense.

“Until I see the film, it’s going to be hard to say,” Shannon said. “I could tell we missed a few blocks and blocking assignments, but I thought we came off the ball real well from an offensive line standpoint. I thought we ran the ball real well; we just need to learn how to hang on to the ball.”

It was the Wildcats fans’ first chance to see senior all-state quarterback Seth Keese in action, but it was not much of a chance. Keese played sparingly, taking only a few snaps on offense while he played safety for half of Harding Academy’s defensive segments.

Sophomore Will Francis took the majority of the snaps and junior all-purpose player Jay Bona also got some work behind center.

The Wildcats had some difficulty sustaining long drives mostly because of penalties, but were stout defensively against
Trumann’s and Beebe’s running games.