Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SPORTS >> Cardinals feature offense that troubles Beebe

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Badgers move deeper into postseason this week with a trip to 5A Southwest champion Camden Fairview in the second round of the 5A state playoffs on Friday.

The Badgers (7-4) advanced from the first round with a thrilling 54-48 victory at Watson Chapel last week. Beebe rushed out to a 21-0 lead before the Wildcats came back after switching offenses from the wishbone to the spread.

“I was very happy with the kids’ effort,” Beebe head coach John Shannon said. “We took our shot in the first quarter and went up by 21, then they took their shot in the second quarter, but we withstood their shot. In the third and fourth quarters, we were able to hang on.”

The Badgers were all over Watson Chapel’s running game, but the defense struggled when the Wildcats began to air it out. Beebe has struggled against passing teams this season with losses to 5A East Conference opponents Greene County Tech and Wynne, as well as Greenbrier to start the season.

Camden-Fairview is a team that likes to spread the field and throw.

“We’ve played against some other spread teams earlier in the year,” Shannon said. “We’ve seen it at different times, so they won’t be the first spread team we’ve faced. We have to fix some things from last week, and hopefully, we will get those thins corrected and come out strong on Friday.”

Senior fullback Jay Hold-way had another good night against the Wildcats with just under 170 yards rushing.

That brings his season total to 1,064 yards while senior quarterback Dustin Stallnaker has 786 yards rushing and 483 yards passing, a significant number for a team that seldom throws the football.

Junior halfback Michael Kirby has 478 yards rushing this year.

“I’ve been very pleased with our offensive production,” Shannon said. “We had three backs over 100 yards last week. Hopefully we can do that again this week.”

Holdway started the year at halfback and was also starting in the defensive secondary. When it was determined that his services would not be needed on defense, he moved over to the fullback position prior to the Blytheville game in week seven.

“We felt like he could help as fullback all year,” Shannon said. “And when we moved him off defense, it was pretty much a no-brainer.”

The Cardinals (10-1) are on a 10-game winning streak after losing their season opener to El Dorado, 42-28.

Since then, they have dominated the 5A Southwest Conference. The Cardinals have put together an unbeaten run to claim the league title outright, and backed up their top seeding last week with a 28-21 win over 5A West four seed Morrilton in the first round.

“They’re one of the elite programs in the state,” Shannon said. “We want to get to that point, so if we could go in there and knock them off on Friday, that would go a long way for us.

“It’s going to be a tough game, no doubt, but that’s the way it will be from here on out. There won’t be any more easy ones.”