Saturday, October 02, 2010

SPORTS>>Wildcats get rolling, Falcons fall

By Jason Gibson
Special to The Leader

Watson Chapel invaded North Pulaski on Friday night and the Wildcats’ talented trio of Kyle Coleman, Mitch Lane and Aaron Lagrone paved the way to a 59-6 victory.
The game started North Pulaski’s way when sophomore Nicholson Weaver picked off Coleman’s pass, but the Falcons were forced to punt and the ball was downed at the 8.

That’s when Lagrone went to work. He took the handoff and ran 92 yards for the first of his three scores, all of them coming in the first half. He finished the game with 170 yards on four carries with touchdown runs of 92, 62, and 18 yards.

Coleman shook off the early interception and went on to throw for 221 yards and three touchdowns of 92, 43, and 29 yards. Coleman attempted one pass in the second half, a 35-yard completion that set up a field goal. 

Despite giving up 35 points by halftime, the Falcons showed signs of improvement as they forced five turnovers in the first half. However the Falcons couldn’t score off of any of them and the lack of depth began to wear on the defense in the second half.

With 4:37 left in the third quarter Marvin Davis passed to Derrick Hart for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 56-6.  The score capped an eight play 80-yard drive that was by far the brightest of bright spots for the Falcons’ fans who appeared energized by the play.

But North Pulaski coach Terrod Hatcher was not content with moral victories or mop-up scores.

“We have nothing to be proud of in the second half,” Hatcher said. “We are in a building time. We just have to build on this and we will get better.”

Hatcher said quarterback Shyheim Barron, out with a broken thumb, should soon return but won’t be able to throw.

“Barron should be back next week, but not as quarterback but as a defensive back,” Hatcher said.

“The first half went according to script, well without the turnovers.” Wildcats coach Greg Shelton said.

Shelton was pleased with his team and went on to say that Friday’s victory is the kind his team needs to get it to the conference title.

“With a lesser team like this you got to be able to score,” Shelton said.

Watson Chapel gained 436 yards in the first half alone. In the second half the Wildcats used primarily backups, and they were led by William Sergeant.

Sergeant took the second-half kickoff 62 yards for a touchdown. Later in the third quarter, he took a handoff and ran 31 yards for another score. 

SPORTS>>Backs bear load for Beebe

By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

Beebe survived a slugfest on the road Friday to beat Forrest City 41-33 and improve to 2-0 in the 5A-East Conference.

Senior fullback Colby Taylor led the ground charge for the Badgers with 22 carries for 167 yards, and was one of three ball carriers to break the 100-yard barrier for Beebe.

Taylor, senior quarterback Scot Gowen and halfback Jay Holdway all had over 100 yards rushing and contributed tw
o touchdowns each.
“We played pretty good,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “We were just clicking on offense. The best thing about tonight was that we were able to keep our heads up when we were faced with adversity.

“For the first time this year, we were able to find a way to win.”

Holdway did most of his damage in the third quarter with touchdown runs of one and 49 yards.

His 49-yard score came with 3:44 left in the third, and gave Beebe its first lead since the start of the game. Gowen added another touchdown with 10:12 left to play that put the Badgers up 41-27 after Jordan Goss’ successful extra-point kick.

“I felt like the offensive line did a really good job tonight,” Shannon said. “We made some mistakes in the first half, or otherwise we would have been way ahead. They returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but we came out in the third quarter and held the ball for nine of the 12 minutes.”

Taylor broke the game open early with a 55-yard touchdown run with 10:51 left in the first quarter, but the Mustangs answered with a 13-yard touchdown off a sneak by senior quarterback Leslie Parker, and they took the lead with four minutes left in the first on a 62-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

Gowen tied the game with a seven-yard scoring run with 8:58 left in the half.

The road victory makes Beebe a contender in the 5A-East after the Badgers suffered an 0-3 start in non-conference play.

“We knew if we could get a couple of wins that would help us get some confidence and maybe get some things to go our way,” Shannon said. “We’ve been able to do that. We’ve got another big game next week. Wynne won tonight, so now they’re 2-0, so it’s going to be another big ballgame.”

SPORTS>>Lady Falcons take charge

By Jason King
Leader sportswriter

The addition of new teams from the 5A-West and 5A-East Conferences into the 5A-Southeast has not only put an end to Sylvan Hills’ regular-season domination, it is threatening the Lady Bears’ chances of qualifying for the 5A state volleyball tournament.

The Lady Bears (3-7, 2-5) suffered another setback Tuesday as cross-county rival North Pulaski took a 3-1 victory. The Lady Falcons (6-6, 3-4) let an early lead slip away in the first game and lost 25-27 but they swept the final three games 27-25, 28-26 and 25-21 for their first victory over Sylvan Hills in more than eight years.

“We wanted that game really bad,” North Pulaski coach Doug Belcher said. “We’ve got five or six seniors on our team, and Sylvan Hills has always been North Pulaski’s rival, so it was probably their last chance. Over the past few years, we’ve always come out on the bottom, so we were just glad to even it up with them this year.”

North Pulaski had the advantage at the net most of the night and helped itself at the service line, while Sylvan Hills struggled with its service game in spots. The Lady Bears got off to strong starts in Games 2 and 3 only to watch the Lady Falcons rally both times.

“We really played well,” Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway said. “I was proud of the girls. We missed a lot of serves, and I would just attribute that to trying to put the ball in play and trying to do things. I have no problem with the effort they gave tonight.”

Sylvan Hills fought to stay alive in the fourth game, but the Lady Falcons took five of the final six points. Senior Kaylee Belcher’s block gave North Pulaski a 22-20 lead, followed by an ace from reserve Erika Shrunk and a kill by Breanna Willis to give the Lady Falcons match point.

The Lady Bears volleyed into the net on the final point.

“This is a good team; the game scores were close,” Treadway said. “We can’t remember the last time they beat us; it’s been awhile. All of our matches have been close; nobody’s just blown the other away. They’ve got some good players.”

North Pulaski jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first game before seniors Ashley Johnson and Torletha Lewis rallied the Lady Bears. They tied the game at 17 before a North Pulaski lineup violation gave them their first lead.

Shala Clemons got the lead back for the Lady Falcons with a pair of kills that made it 23-21, and an out play by Sylvan Hills gave North Pulaski game point.

The Lady Bears’ Ann Smith cut the deficit to two with a kill and Johnson made it 24-23 with a cross-court kill before an ace by Tiffany Squires tied the game.

The Lady Falcons survived Sylvan Hills’ first game point before junior Mallory Rushin finally won the game with an ace.

Junior Stevie Hughes led the way for the Lady Falcons in Game 2 with four kills and a crucial block that helped North Pulaski come back from an early 4-1 deficit. Clemons and Belcher combined in the third game as Clemons got several shots from the left side off sets by Belcher, and sophomore Shelby Floyd helped bring it home for the Lady Falcons in the final game with a pair of early kills that gave North Pulaski momentum.

With former 5A-West schools Little Rock Christian, Vilonia and Central Arkansas Christian now in the 5A-Southeast for volleyball with former 5A-East team Batesville, teams that were not in the league a year ago now hold the top four spots.

“This conference for us this year is just way tough,” Belcher said. “There’s a lot of club teams; a lot of girls who have played together for years and played club ball in the offseason. Those teams are hard to beat.”

Treadway is also feeling the pressure of the new competition level and would like to see his players getting off-season experience in organizations like the Junior Olympics.

“We’ve got to up our level of play,” Treadway said. “We can’t sit back and start in August. I’ve got to have some girls that are playing J.O., I’ve got to have some girls to put the ball in their hands other than August through November, and I’m trying to work on that.”

North Pulaski finished with 37 kills, led by Hughes with 12 and Clemons with 10. Hughes also led in blocks with four.

Willis and Floyd each had five kills. Belcher led the Lady Falcons in aces with five of their 14.

The Lady Bears had 28 kills, 10 from Johnson, who also led with four blocks. Smith, Lewis, Rushin and Amanda Vanderlugt all had four kills each.

Sylvan Hills had 11 aces and Vanderlugt had a team-high three.

SPORTS>>Cabot outslugs Catholic in victory

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers had trouble stopping the Little Rock Catholic Rockets on Friday, so the Panthers settled for outscoring them.

Two fourth-quarter touchdowns and some defensive big plays helped the Panthers end a two-game losing streak with a 41-29, 7A/6A-Central Conference victory at Panther Stadium.

“It was a good high school game if you just wanted to see a good game and didn’t care who won,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said.

Catholic scored quickly, scored on long drives and scored on special teams. The Rockets took a 13-0 lead on possessions of two and four plays in the first half, forcing Cabot uncharacteristically to the air where Zach Craig completed two touchdown passes for a one-point Panthers lead at halftime.

But the fireworks were far from over as the teams combined for 51 points in the second half.

“They took, we took it, they took it, we took it,” Malham said. “There wasn’t a lot of defense being played it didn’t look like. But they’ve got a pretty good offense. They’ve scored on everybody they’ve played pretty much.”

Cabot led 14-13 at halftime but Catholic took the opening kickoff of the second quarter and marched 72 yards for Christopher Ashburn’s 24-yard field goal with 7:04 on the clock.

The Panthers got a good return from Mason James and began at the Rockets 43. Cabot drove the distance in eight plays and scored on Spencer Smith’s one-yard run to retake the lead, 21-16 with 3:04 left.

The Rockets answered immediately when Charley Gardner retuned the kickoff 68 yards up the middle to make it 23-21 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

Another short Cabot drive ended when tight end Rod Quinn went around the right end on a reverse and scored on a 24-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Panthers back in front 28-23.

The Panthers still couldn’t silence the Rockets, who drove from their 20, survived a sack by Tyler Carter and scored on Zachary Conque’s six-yard run on a keeper. The big play on the drive was Conque’s 44-yard completion to Richard Holloway, but the Rockets’ conversion run failed and left Catholic holding a 29-28 lead with 7:35 left.

That was more than enough time for Cabot as the Panthers began at their 28 and put together their best sustained drive of the night.

A 17-yard run by Smith brought up first and goal at the 5, and a play later Jeremy Berry ran it in from the 2. Zach Craig, who completed two touchdown passes in the first half, threw long to James on the conversion attempt to leave it 34-29 Cabot with 1:44 left.

The Panthers held, as Robert Morris broke up one pass and Logan Spry nearly intercepted another, and Quinn got around right end for a late Panthers touchdown run of 33 yards to set the final score.

James made it official when he recovered a fumble on Catholic’s hook and lateral effort on the kickoff return.

“We’re happy to get a win,” Malham said. “We’re 1-1 in the conference now. We’re only one game behind, not two.”

Smith led Cabot with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown while Quinn rushed for two, gaining 57 yards, and caught a pass for a score in the first half. Craig passed for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’ve got a lot of passing game in,” Malham said, explaining why he ordinarily prefers to run the ball in the Dead T offense. “It’s just when we move it on the ground we complete more handoffs than we do passes. It’s just like on the two-point conversion we had him wide open and we miss. But we did complete a couple good ones.”

Quinta Thomaas rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown for Catholic and Conque passed for 235 yards and one touchdown and rushed for another.

Cabot’s first drive ended on James’ fumble that Matt Morris recovered for Catholic at his team’s 44. The Rockets wasted little time cashing in on the gift as Thomaas gained four yards and then, after a false start penalty, delayed and burst through the right side for a 55-yard touchdown run that made it 7-0 with 7:37 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers punted and the Rockets put together another quick scoring drive that began at their 16. Conque completed a 16-yard pass, gained two yards after a low snap and then, after a Rockets holding penalty, he completed a 76-yard touchdown pass to Gardner who beat Greg Phelps and raced into the end zone.

James blocked Ashburn’s extra-point attempt, which would become a key play as the half went on.

The teams traded fumbles, with the backward scramble after a bad Catholic snap leading to Ethan Covington’s recovery that set Cabot up at the Catholic 43 in the closing seconds of the first period.

On the first play of the second quarter Craig hit James, who dodged two tacklers and scored to complete the 35-yard play and cut it to 13-7 with 11:50 left in the half.

Carter almost intercepted a pass and Floyd Sturgeon sacked Conque on consecutive plays to end the next Catholic drive, and the quarter bogged down in a series of punts until a partially blocked Catholic kick set Cabot up at the Rockets 34.

On the first play Craig found Quinn, who shook off a tackle and got to the right sideline where he picked up a block from Riley Hawkins and ran it in to tie the game with 2:59 left.

Jesus Marquez’s kick gave the Panthers the 14-13 lead and, after Catholic drove to the Cabot 19, Zach Brown put an end to the threat when he intercepted a tipped pass and allowed Cabot to run out the clock.

SPORTS>>Hurricane storms by Red Devils

By Jason king
Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville had no answer for Jonesboro running back Zac Brooks, who punished the Red Devil defense and led the Hurricane to a 34-20 victory Friday at Jan Crow Stadium.

Brooks finished with 179 yards and three touchdowns and raised the bar during Jonesboro’s first possession of the second half when he rushed for 74 yards on nine carries. Brad Shearin was the only other Jonesboro player to touch the ball on the drive with one carry for two yards.

Jacksonville (3-2, 1-1 7A/6A-East) gave up two early turnovers deep in its own territory that led to Jonesboro’s first two scores, forcing the Red Devils to try to play catch-up the rest of the night.

“We flexed our muscles a little bit there in the second half,” Hurricane coach Randy Coleman said. “I know how frustrating is when a team runs the same play or two over and over and over. I’ve seen it this year, and it kind of breaks the will of the opponent.”

The Hurricane (3-2, 2-0) smashed the left side of Jacksonville’s defense in the second half with repeated off-tackle runs by Brooks to the strong side.

The 6-2, 180-pound junior with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash, has been offered a scholarship by Arkansas and proved worthy with 24 workhorse carries, with only one for negative yardage.

“Their running back is extremely fast and strong,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “They overpopulated the point of attack and did a good job pulling their guards out there. Whatever decision we made was the wrong one, because he’s such a good running back — follows his blockers really well.”
D’Vone McClure turned in Jacksonville’s best offensive performance with 12 receptions for 137 yards and two of the Red Devils’ scores. Senior quarterback Logan Perry, who had seven carries for 25 yards at one point, found the going tough in the second half as Jonesboro sacked him four times for a net loss of 24 yards.

Despite the difficulty, Perry finished 26 of 42 for 233 yards and a touchdown. The Red Devils needed every bit of that with a running game that gained 0 yards on 17 attempts.

McClure scored Jacksonville’s final touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game on a 12-yard catch from junior backup quarterback Tirrell Brown, who replaced Perry on the final drive and completed 6 of 10 passes for 84 yards.

“He’s a competitor,” Russell said of McClure. “He’s going to compete and try to win. So, he had an outstanding night, he sure did.”

The Hurricane finished with 355 yards, including 87 on a 9-of-16 night passing by junior quarterback Moe Malugen.

“Early, we just thought that the matchup was better between the left side of our line and the right side of their defense,” Coleman said. “We thought we had an advantage. They flipped, but it kept breaking.

“So, you know the old, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ we kind of needed to stick with that.”

Jonesboro took advantage of the Jacksonville turnovers in the first quarter.

Trip Crawford recovered a Perry fumble at the Jacksonville 31, and it took only one gadget play for the Hurricane to convert on a 31-yard pass from receiver Marshall McDaniel to P.J. Bookout that was set up with a handoff from Malugen to Brooks, who pitched to McDaniel.

Jacksonville’s defense bought the fake and left Bookout alone downfield as the Hurricane took a 7-0 lead with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

Perry fumbled on the first play of Jacksonville’s next drive at the Red Devil 24. Brooks carried four straight times and punched it in on a four-yard carry with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

Jonesboro went up by three scores with 4:47 left in the half when Malugen kept for a 17-yard touchdown run. The extra-point snap was botched, leaving it at 20-0.

Jacksonville scored just before the half on a 42-yard pass from Perry to McClure with 2:19 left. Perry put up a jump ball for McClure, who had a five-inch height advantage on defender Jacob Neil.

Xavier Brown’s extra-point attempt was just under the crossbar to leave it at 20-6.

Red Devil sophomore defensive back Kevin Richardson stopped another Jonesboro drive early in the second quarter when he intercepted a Malugen pass at the Red Devil 5-yard line and returned it to the 20.

The Red Devils picked up more yards when Jonesboro was flagged for a facemask on Richardson’s return.

Friday, October 01, 2010

EDITORIAL >>Flood study on hold

Sherwood choked on a gnat at its city council meeting Monday night.

The council, which didn’t bat much of an eye almost two years ago, spending $5.5 million to buy a golf course, basically said no to the city engineer’s request for $33,000 for a flood study before she makes any improvements to stop, slow or redirect the flooding from Woodruff Creek affecting homes on and around Powell Drive, Claremont Avenue, Pinto Drive and Marlar Drive.

Maybe it was because the city’s budget this year was saved by an influx of about $500,000 from North Little Rock or maybe because it was just announced that Sherwood’s retirement fund for its employees was going to be at least $4.6 million short of meeting its demands, after years of mismanagement that caused the council suddenly to become “Scrooge” and say, “Humbug!” to the engineer.

The time the council spent discussing and debating the $33,000 was equal, if not longer, to the time the council spent on the multi-million dollar pension problem.

Not only did the council put the study on hold, but by doing so, eight non-engineers on the council questioned City Engineer’s Ellen Norvell’s credentials, knowledge and recommendation.

True, the first reading of the ordinance that would have allowed the study was approved, but there were enough no votes to keep it from coming up for a second or third reading — and three approved readings are required for the ordinance to become law and the study to go forward.

By reading it just once – the issue will be back on the agenda for the November council meeting – all the council did was say to the people of the problem area that $33,000 is more important than their well-being. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain in the meantime.

EDITORIAL >>Mark Martin is a deadbeat

Although he profits from the name, Mark Martin, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, is not the world-class stock-car driver from Batesville. That Mark Martin is not running for office. But the political Mark Martin stays just as much in the fast lane as the racer.

Martin has been questioning the ethics of his Democratic opponent, Pat O’Brien, and has joined his party leader in attacking the integrity of state constitutional officers, who happen to be Democrats. He criticized O’Brien, the Pulaski County clerk, the other day for 80 spoiled ballots that were mailed to people in Jacksonville who had applied for absentee ballots. The error belonged to the Pulaski County Election Commission, not O’Brien’s office, but O’Brien corrected it and everyone got the right ballots.

This week, the newspapers, blogs and Mr. O’Brien told us a little bit about this Mark Martin who expects to be the secretary of state. Most of us knew nothing about him except that he was a state representative from Prairie Grove. We know a lot more today.

Martin has been a quiet and ineffective lawmaker, but he has been anything but ineffective in getting into the taxpayers’ pockets. Last year, he pocketed $56,000 in expense claims to the state. A legislator’s salary is only $15,869 a year, but legislators are in session only about 60 days every other year. They get an extra allowance for every day that they attend a legislative session or a committee meeting in Little Rock and a generous allowance for travel and expenses on the road and for expenses they incur back home. For most legislators, the Little Rock legislative business takes a few days a year. But Martin checks in at the Capitol for committee meetings even when he is not a member of the committee that is meeting and claims his per diem and expenses for the day. Not many years ago, before the advent of term limits, legislators collected a salary of $1,200 a year plus $20 a day per diem. Lawmaking has recently become a very expensive business for the taxpayers, although, to be fair, not many lawmakers abuse the system like Mark Martin does.

A blogger, a Democrat assuredly, got interested in Martin’s business at Prairie Grove since he seemed to have nothing to do but hang out at Little Rock for legislative interim-committee meetings. It turns out that the taxpayers are paying Martin’s business, whatever it is, to rent office space to him for his grueling legislative work and his campaign. When a newspaper called Martin to learn the address of his putative business, he couldn’t remember it. But the blogger tracked it down.

His business, M3 Engineering, has an office in a building owned by a plumbing company on Wagon Wheel Road in Springdale. That’s also listed as his legislative office, so the taxpayers pay the rent for the office. The Springdale city clerk’s office said Martin had never obtained a privilege license to do business in the city as M3 Engineering, nor had he paid the little city privilege tax.

When you start hurling charges that your opponent is unethical or a tax cheat, as several Republicans have done this year, you need to pick up around your own house. Poor Jim Keet learned that this summer. The free-wheeling Mark Martin — the politician, not the racer — now knows it, too.

TOP STORY > >Chamber in Cabot hosts commission


Leader staff writer

The Cabot Chamber of Commerce’s state Highway Commission appreciation banquet on Tuesday at First Baptist Church was an occasion to reflect on traffic improvement with the teamwork of city, county and state officials.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams gave an update on the north interchange. He received word from Rep. Marion Berry’s office that Congress could vote on funding for the interchange, possibly by November.

Money was allocated for the project last year but went to road projects in Clay County. If the legislature votes on it, $1.1 million will be used for right-of-way purchases and engineering for the new interchange. The state Highway Department has signed an order to start the process on the interchange.

The mayor presented a video on traffic-improvement projects in the city over the past year.

One project was adding a right-turn lane at the intersection of Hwy. 321 and Kerr Station Road. During a 45-minute span, morning traffic could not clear the intersection. Vehicles would back up north on Kerr Station to the Comfort Estates subdivision.

About $30,000 was spent on the road work. The mayor said it was an important small project that made traffic flow better.

Another road project was rerouting the Hwy. 67/167 southbound exit 16 off-ramp from Hwy. 5 to Rockwood Road. Construction took 60 days.

“It was one of the most dangerous intersections in Lonoke County and in Arkansas. Now it is one of the safest. It freed the intersection up,” the mayor said.

A third project discussed was the extension of Willie Ray Drive to Ernie Davis Drive in Austin. Williams said it was a team effort with Judge Charlie Troutman and Lonoke County. He said the road was important for future development.

The mayor then focused the attention to improvements along Hwy. 5. The traffic signals at Hwy. 5 and Hwy. 89 intersection have reduced fatalities.

A turning lane was built on Hwy. 5 at Mountain Springs Road for traffic going to the new elementary school. Williams said the school district was committed to making it happen. The district paid for almost all of the costs for the additional lane.

Lastly, Williams showed the Hwy. 5 and Greystone Boulevard intersection. A pedestrian cross walk and pedestrian signal light were installed to allow youngsters to cross the highway safely.

The mayor said many people made the projects happen including State Senator Bobby Glover and members of the State Highway Commission and Department.

Glover said much has been accomplished in the county with the public schools and the cooperation with municipal officials, county officials and state legislators. He said it wasn’t one individual, but all working together. For there to be economic development, there needs to be a highway program for the state.

The evening turned to recognizing members of the state Highway Department and the State Highway Commission.

Williams proclaimed this past Tuesday as Bill Harrod Day in the city. It was also his 65th birthday. Harrod retired on Monday from the State Highway Department after a 46-and-half-year career. He began working for the department as a surveyor. Since 2005 he’s been a traffic services specialist.

Harrod worked with the city on many projects.

“The relationship could not have been better,” the mayor said.

Harrod worked projects in the Cabot area including the Hwy. 38 and Lincoln Street railroad overpass and he helped complete the layout of South Rockwood Road.

Glover presented framed Senate citations and Capitol citations to both State Highway Commission Chairman Carl Rosenbaum and state Highway and Transportation Director Dan Flowers.

Cabot Chamber of Commerce president Amy Ross presented Rosenbaum with a plaque in recognition of his dedication and commitment to Cabot and the state during his 10 years as state Highway Chairman. Rosenbaum’s term expires in January 2011.