Friday, August 26, 2011

SPORTS>>’Rabs season kicking off at Pine Bluff

Leader sportswriter

The first game of the high school football season could be one of the best.

The matchup between Lonoke and Star City was a thriller last year with two teams composed of similar-style athletes, and little has changed heading into the 2011 edition of the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic at Golden Lion Stadium in Pine Bluff.

Lonoke prevailed last year in a 38-29 thriller in which the Jackrabbits took advantage of multiple Bulldog turnovers to build a huge lead in the first half, only to watch Star City mount an impressive second-half comeback.

“I think we match up withthem pretty well,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “It will be a battle in the trenches – they have a lot of size at the line and so do we. So it will be a lot of big boys going up against each other. I think we’re pretty equal. The biggest difference between us at this point is that they got to have a full two-hour scrimmage and we had about 15 minutes.”

Lightning cancelled the Jackrabbits’ scrimmage against Maumelle on Monday after just two possessions for each team. But enough happened in that short period of time to give Bost an idea of what to work on.

“With the offense, a lot of it was nerves,” Bost said. “But when they can see it on film, they have a better understanding of it. Our defense, if they can come out and play like they did the other night, they can keep us in the game.”

The Bulldogs have four returning starters on the offensive line, and have most of their receivers from last year. Gone is quarterback Ty Towers and running backs Hosia Rochell and Demitri Goins, but Bost, who watched Star City scrimmage against Monticello on Tuesday night, said the running game is just as effective.

“They are a good football team,” Bost said. “They have a lot of size up front, and they have good speed at the skill positions. Their first two possessions, they had about an equal amount of passing and running, and they moved it down the field for two quick scores.”

The biggest drawback of the shortened scrimmage on Monday was virtually no touches for Lonoke’s running backs. Eric Williams, who surprised Star City last year with a late touchdown run that put the ’Rabbits back up by two scores to seal the victory, is one of four juniors who make up the Lonoke running-back corps, along with senior Keli Bryant.

Kenny Johnson, Brent Sims and Dra Offord are the other three juniors, along with junior quarterback D.J. Burton.

“I’ve been seeing them all summer,” Bost said. “They didn’t get a chance to play much the other night, but I know their speed, and I’m excited to see them get out there.

“As far as D.J., he didn’t get much of a chance to use play action, and I think that will be his strength.”