Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons tackling Senators

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski will try to pick up its second win of the season this Friday when the Falcons (1-0) host 7-4A Conference member Joe T. Robinson (1-1).

With the first two weeks of the season already over, it’s unclear which team has the advantage going into this week’s game. After North Pulaski’s week one nail-biting 13-12 win over J.A. Fair, the Falcons trailed 14-0 against class 4A Maumelle before the game was cancelled due to lightning with 8:47 to go in the second quarter.

Robinson lost by 29 points in its season opener at Hot Springs, but the Senators responded Saturday with a 16-14 win over Fair at Charlie George Stadium in Little Rock. Turnovers, fumbles in particular, have plagued both teams in their games this season.

The Falcons lost five fumbles in the red zone in their win against Fair, two of which were inside the War Eagles’ 5-yard line. Robinson lost four fumbles on Saturday in its win over Fair. With teams this evenly-matched, the one that will have the edge this week will be the team that doesn’t turn the ball over, and commits the fewest penalties.

“It was a bad mixture of play-calling on my part,” said North Pulaski coach Teodis Ingram about last week’s game against Maumelle. “I made some calls that shouldn’t have been made at the time because of some of the issues we had going on, but I take responsibility for that.”

North Pulaski’s offense was in the negative last week until quarterback Steven Farrior broke away for a 51-yard run. But due to the lightning, whatever momentum the Falcons’ offense had was quickly suspended.

Austin Allen, one of the top athletes and playmakers on the North Pulaski roster, was named the starting quarterback in the summer. But after suffering a torn ACL, Allen is out for the season. Therefore, the Falcons have been running a quarterback-by-committee type of offense.

In the past two weeks, Farrior and sophomore Doug Gates have been getting the majority of the reps at the position, but senior Ashton Nichols has been competing for playing time as well.

Robinson has only six seniors on its roster, but is full of talented sophomores.

Quarterback Kristian Thompson ran six yards for a score with 4:46 to play in last week’s win over Fair – then punched in the game-winning two-point conversion.

Fair’s final scoring threat was also shut down by Thompson.

At safety, Thompson intercepted a tipped pass at the Robinson 20 early in the fourth quarter.

North Pulaski’s other focus on defense will be to stop the Robinson running backs, which are also young but rich in potential.

“I’m very impressed with their running backs,” Ingram said. “They’ve done a great job of carrying the football. They don’t go down after first contact. We’re going to have to gang-tackle those guys, because their feet don’t stop moving.”

Robinson may have a good group of backs, but so does North Pulaski. In the Falcons’ week one win, junior running back Damon Thomas racked up 116 yards on 22 carries. Damon Thomas also had an 11-yard reception on third and long that set up the Falcons’ final touchdown.

Versatile junior Fred Tho-mas had 98 yards of offense for the Falcons in week one, averaging 10.7 yards-per-carry. Friday’s match-up will be a competitive one and Ingram hopes his team will be ready.

“They’re a good football team,” Ingram said of Robinson. “They’re well-coached and they have a lot of underclassmen. But they play hard for four quarters.”