Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Bears play better once clock starts

Leader sportswriter

Sophomore power and senior muscle lifted Sylvan Hills to a 14-6 scrimmage victory over Pulaski Robinson at Bill Blackwood Field on Monday.

The Bears and Senators played two timed quarters following a series of untimed drives by the first and second units for each team. Joe T. took the advantage during that the untimed drives by scoring twice while denying Sylvan Hills the end zone. When the clock started and the first-down chains came into play, the Bears came to life.

The scrimmage was marred by the usual onslaught of offsides and procedure penalties typical of early practice games, but both teams held turnovers to a minimum. One turnover from Pulaski Robinson in particular led to the first score of thetimed scrimmage for Sylvan Hills, giving the advantage to the Bears for the duration.

“Way too many penalties, way too many mistakes,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “We’ve got to tackle better. Offensively, we killed ourselves on drives, I mean, just little things. A lot of that is getting better – better playing condition, but I’m happy we won. The main thing is we won.

Senior punter J.D. Miller pinned the Senators deep in their own territory early in the second quarter.

Sophomore Tra Doss picked up a fumble two plays later and returned it to the Robinson 7-yard line.

Senior fullback Jaron Wade picked up a yard on the first play of the goal-line situation, followed by two short gains from Doss on quarterback keeps that led to fourth and goal at the Joe T. 1-yard line. Wade got the call again, and went over the top for the score. Junior Philip Wood added the extra point to give the Bears a 7-0 lead.

Doss started the night as a backup quarterback to Miller, but by the end of the night was handling most of the duties behind center. The 10th-grader also made some heads-up plays on defense to establish himself as an all-around playmaker for the Bears.

“He’s solid,” Withrow said. “He’s a good player. We’ve got a senior quarterback, so I feel good there. I also feel good with Tra. I don’t know, we’ll just see how it plays out, but I think we’ll wind up playing both. We can get a lot out of J.D. also.”

The Bears’ next scoring drive started at their own 49-yard line with 7:11 left to play and lasted eight plays, ending with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Doss to Marlen Clemmons with 2:49 remaining to give the Bears a 14-0 lead.

Clemmons did not have many rushes during the timed scrimmage, but showed great speed on a number of sweeps during the early portion.

“He can play,” Withrow said. “He’s got field awareness, he has everything else. I feel good about the future.”

Wade had a number of solid carries up the middle, and was one of the biggest playmakers on defense. Fellow senior Jaleel Henson also came up big on defensive stops, while sophomore DeAngelo Bell used his speed to make a touchdown-saving tackle on a long run by the Senators. Joe T. quarterback Kristian Thompson eventually punched it in for the score on a 16-yard keeper in the final minute.

“We’ve got to get better. If we’re going to be a playoff team, we’ve got to get better. And you can tell, we still need to grow up a little bit, and we need to handle adversity a little bit better.”

Sylvan Hills will hold its annual Blue-White scrimmage on Friday at Bill Blackwood Field, and will open the season at home against Vilonia on Aug. 31.