Tuesday, September 04, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats face off at Longview

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock takes a long trip to face a Texas high school football powerhouse this Friday when it takes on the Longview Lobos. Longview went 12-2 last season, won its conference championship and advanced to the semifinals of the state playoffs in class 5A-Texas’ largest classification. The Lobos have several starters returning from that team, but suffered a terrible start to the season when they fell 41-8 to Coppell, Texas last Friday.

Longview coach John King wasn’t at all pleased with how his team began the season, but doesn’t think it is as bad as it appeared in its first game.

“We didn’t play well, really in any area,” King said. “Didn’t pass it well, didn’t defend the pass well, made mistakes in our kicking game. We’ve got a lot to improve, but we have some good football players.”

Coppell led 21-0 at halftime then scored on the opening drive of the second half. One bright spot for Longview last week was running back Tori White, who rushed for 128 yards.

“He did a good job for us and we had some pretty good run blocking at times,” King said. “We have to be more consistent.

Wide receiver Justin Spader also had six catches for 78 yards in the loss.

Longview runs multiple formations, but its base offense is a two-back pro set. North Little Rock enters the game with an advantage in experience with 18 returning starters to Longview’s 11, but Wildcat coach Brad Bolding isn’t taking anything for granted.

“They’re a good football team,” Bolding said. “This is a traditional Texas powerhouse. They’re never going to be bad. The offense struggled a little bit but they’re got almost a whole new offensive line. They’re going to learn from game one and I’m sure they’re going to be ready. That’ll be a wakeup call for them.”

King didn’t mention specific North Little Rock players that he’s concerned about, but does recognize a quality team.

“They’re big, physical, fast and well coached,” King said. “They’re a fine football team. There are just a whole lot of unknowns. We don’t know a whole lot about them and they don’t know a whole lot about us except for what you can get from one game film.”

The Lobos’ team speed is one of Bolding’s concerns.

“They play fast,” Bolding said. “I’m not sure we’ve seen that kind of team speed.”

While the Charging Wild-cats’ week-one opponent, Lake Hamilton, doesn’t possess the Lobos’ kind of speed, Bolding was pleased with how well his defense shut down the Wolves’ traditionally powerful offense.

“I thought defensively we played great,” Bolding said. “We held them to 74 total yards. We had an interception return for a touchdown called back. The defense gave us great field position.

“Offensively, I thought we played well for about two quarters. After that I thought we let up.”

The Wildcats’ compiled 384 total yards with senior Altee Tenpenny leading the way with 84 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns.

“Our run blocking was really good at times and then we had some breakdowns,” Bolding said. “If I was going to five our offense a grade I’d give it a high D. We’re really nitpicking every little thing. The more experience you have, and we have a lot of experience, the tougher the grade is.”