Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Jackrabbits happy to be playing Star City at home

Leader sportswriter

For the first time in three years, the season-opening game between Lonoke and Star City will not be included as a Hooten’s Classic game, it will be one of many Friday-night games across the state of Arkansas when the Jackrabbits and Bulldogs square off at James B. Abraham Stadium at 7 p.m.

The UAPB Campus in Pine Bluff has been the site of the two previous meetings, with Lonoke winning the 2010 game thanks to a late-game breakaway touchdown run by a then-unknown sophomore named Eric Williams. Star City won a more defensive outing last year 21-7 on its way to a 7-4 final season record.

Jackrabbits coach Doug Bost is happy to have the season opener in their back yard this season, giving fans a better opportunity to come out and show support rather than having to travel over an hour in the middle of the week.

“Especially when you can get one at home,” Bost said. “We always looked at the Hooten’s games as road games, and you never get any money off the gate, so it’s definitely better to be at home.”

The Jackrabbits are coming off a successful scrimmage against Maumelle, in which the defense stuffed the Hornets for 12 tackles for losses, and recorded six sacks. Maumelle was able to break a couple of long runs due to missed defensive assignments for Lonoke.

“We did good things offensively,” Bost said. “Our pass game went well for the first time out, and that was a good thing to see. The first team had no turnovers and that was good, but we had a few too many penalties – holding penalties we shouldn’t have had.

“It’s been a full year, and the kids were ready to hit on something other than each other, and they came out fired up. We treated it like a real game.”

Bost was impressed with the efforts at the line by right offensive tackle Austyn Soderling, who spent the entire spring and summer recovering from a back injury. Soderling received doctor’s clearance a week before the start of fall camp, but Bost said the senior has made up for lost time in a big hurry.

“He had the best job on the offensive line,” Bost said of Soderling during the scrimmage. “We’re real proud of him.”

Defensively, Bost said senior Dra Offord was impressive from his linebacker position, and was in on most of the stops in some way.

It has been implied most of the spring and summer that junior Grant Dewey would assume the leading role when it came to starting quarterback, but an equally impressive spring for another junior, Nick Watson, made the decision tougher for Bost. Bost would not name a definite starter until recently, when he confirmed it will in fact be Dewey.

“He’s shown us he can get the job done,” Bost said. “When we worked out our new pass concepts back in February, he took the play book and he learned it. He knows his pass concepts, his reads, and he has good control.”

The focus this week will be getting ready for a Star City team which depending on talent cycles can be a pass-oriented spread team or a wing-type running team.

“We watched them Tues-day, and they want to run the ball,” Bost said. “Their quarterback’s going to run the option, and he’s going to send a guy in motion to come around and he can pitch to. Defense, they’re going to play corners and lock down – they’re real similar to us defensively running that 4-2-5.”