Tuesday, November 02, 2010

SPORTS>>Falcons older, wiser entering game with Billies

By todd traub
Leader sports editor

North Pulaski started the year young and will end the year young, but there has been some growing up in between.

The Falcons (1-8, 1-5 5A-Southeast) play host to playoff contender Monticello in a conference game and the regular-season finale at Falcons Field on Thursday night.

As they have all year, the Falcons will sport a youthful look, but that bodes well for next year and beyond, first-year coach Terrod Hatcher said.

“The main thing is the sophomores, compared to the beginning of the year,” said Hatcher, citing North Pulaski’s areas of improvement. “Their maturity level has increased over time and that’s going to help us going into next year.”

North Pulaski has played one senior on offense and one on defense for the better part of th
e 2010 football season.
“It was out of necessity, yes,” Hatcher said of using the young players. “They were the best ones for the job. We’re pretty young. We keep developing those guys and I think we’ll be all right.”

Hatcher, 23, the youngest coach in the state, gives the coaching staff a youthful look too. He was promoted from offensive coordinator just before practice began in August after Rick Russell left to become head coach at Jacksonville.

His first season may have been trying at times, Hatcher said, but he has enjoyed it.

“We’ve been having fun,” he said. “Of course it’s kind of tough when you’re losing, but we’ve been having fun. I’ve enjoyed my coaching staff. We’ve had some laughs. I think it’s gone pretty well.”

Thursday night games are nothing new in Arkansas, but it marks the first time as head coach Hatcher has had toget a team ready in a short week.

“It just doesn’t give you time to prepare as long but other than that it’s the same,” Hatcher said. “You’ll make Monday like it’s Monday but you’ve got to skip that Tuesday. You’ve got to practice Tuesday like it’s a Wednesday.”

The Falcons are averaging 15.4 points a game and giving up 33.2.

North Pulaski struggled to score points until it erupted to beat Crossett 38-13 for its first and so far only victory this season. However, the Falcons have hung tough against Little Rock Christian, in a 14-3 loss, in a 16-8 setback at Sylvan Hills and in the first half last week at Mills.

Mills, which has locked up the 5A-Southeast’s second playoff seed, beat North Pulaski 33-6 at Mills. 

However it was tied 6-6 until just before halftime, then Mills’ option attack took over.

Hopefully the experience will pay against Monticello this week, Hatcher said.

“They run kind of like what Mills runs,” he said. “We have to make sure we can slow them down on defense.”