Tuesday, October 04, 2011

SPORTS >> Bison set for battle with Lions

Leader sportswriter

The tests get tougher for Carlisle as the season goes deeper into the 6-2A Conference schedule, and this week’s road game at England could be the toughest to date for the undefeated Bison.

The Lions (3-2, 1-1) began conference play with a 56-14 blowout victory over Palestine-Wheatley before losing to Des Arc in a close 34-30 heartbreaker last week. England went 2-1 through its early non-conference schedule, losing to Strong in week one before posting wins against Little Rock Episcopal and Southside Batesville.

The Bison (5-0, 2-0) continued their domination last week with a 60-6 clubbing of Clarendon for their third mercy-ruled victory in five games this season. Carlisle has outscored its opponents 218-49 through the first half of the season, allowing an average 9.8 points per game.

“The good thing about this group is that they know Monday is a new week for us,” Bison coach Scott Waymire said. “We’re going to take one opponent at a time. The seniors have done a great job getting that message across to the younger guys.”

The Lions have hit a resurgence under third-year head coach Brandon Barbaree. England captured its first winning season and subsequent playoff berth in nearly a decade last season, going 6-5.

“They have a lot of big guys up front,” Waymire said. “What they want to do is run the football and keep it out of your hands. Defensively, they’re a lot better than they were last year. They have a lot of speed, and their defensive linemen are strong. It’s going to be a true test; it could be decided on who turns the ball over the most.”

The Lions enjoyed good football tradition throughout the 80s and most of the 90s before the participation numbers began to fall off. Things hit rock bottom in 2008 when England went 1-9 for the season, finishing the year with 16 players in a 35-0 loss to then upstart Riverview.

Waymire credits England’s transformation to Barbaree.

“They’ve got a lot more depth now,” Waymire said. “Coach Barbaree has come in there and turned that thing around. He’s tried to build something, and I think they’re there. The kids have bought into it.”

Braxton Petrus led the Bison’s rushing attack last week with over 100 yards as part of an offensive ground attack that racked up over 500 total yards, including 80-plus rushing yards for senior Ty Vaughn.

“We’ve been real fortunate with our running game,” Waymire said. “A lot of that credit goes to our linemen up front, and the good job they do blocking for those guys every week.”