Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SPORTS>>Badgers improve each day

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badger football team just wrapped up its summer camp meetings at Conway High School last week. The squad met three times at Conway with four other schools before the dead period, and three times since, finishing up last Tuesday.

There was one small change in the lineup in the second go around. Clinton High replaced Benton in the second set of meetings, joining Beebe, Conway, Little Rock Christian and Morrilton.

Badger coach John Shannon was a bit worried after the very first meeting, felt better after the second, and is now very pleased overall with how the team performed.

“I felt like we got better every time we went over there,” Shannon said.

One of the greatest points of improvement was on the defensive side of the ball. The Badger offense moved the ball fairly easily on the defense in spring football, but Shannon saw the defense improve dramatically over the summer camps.

“In spring I felt like the offense was way ahead of the defense,” Shannon said. But in team camps the defense improved the most. Defensively we got better every single week.”

An added bonus for the defense was that three of the teams in the camp run the spread offense, and Beebe’s first two opponents also run the spread.

“Conway, Morrilton and Little Rock Christian are spread teams so that really helps us considering who we play early in the season,” Shannon said. “Greenbrier and Lonoke both run that offense and they’re both pretty good. So that gives us some more preparation for those teams.”

Each team in the camp runs a different defensive set, which Shannon believes really helped the offense.

“Every team you line up against is showing you something different on defense,” Shannon said. “I thought our offense really got a lot more consistent. It was a little difficult at first playing a few snaps against this type of defense, and then a few against another, then seeing another one. But overall I think it was the consistency that really improved offensively.”

The level of competition was also a good feature at the camp.

All the teams but one in both camps were at least in the same classification as Beebe, and two were from higher divisions. Conway is one of the top-five largest schools in Arkansas. Moving the ball against the Wampus Cats, Shannon believes, is a confidence boost.

“I think the kids know that if you can compete against somebody like Conway, you can compete with anybody,” Shannon said.

The Badgers join the rest of the state with their first official practice on August 1. The team hits the weight room at 6 a.m., and will take the field at 7 a.m.

New Arkansas Activities Association rules no longer allow two-a-day practices every day, so Beebe will go twice on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The afternoon sessions will begin at 1 p.m.