Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits at least got to hit someone

Leader sportswriter

Before opening their regular season on the road next Friday against Star City, the Lonoke Jackrabbits traveled to Maumelle on Monday for an unconventional preseason scrimmage against the host team as well with class 6A Little Rock Fair.

The Jackrabbits and host Hornets kicked off the event with a 20-minute, continuous-clock exhibition scrimmage. At the end of the 20 minutes, Lonoke’s second-teamers took the field and competed for a while with Maumelle’s second team before the Jackrabbit starters retook the field for another nonstop 20-minute showdown with the War Eagles.

The first game began about as expected. Both teams started off a little careless, both offensively and defensively, but once the two respective class 4A teams settled into the flow of the game, the matchup was quite competitive. However, just as the action was picking up, the clock ran out to end the first exhibition.

Even though there really wasn’t much to it, Lonoke coach Doug Bost said it was a good opportunity for his team to beat up on somebody else for once rather than on each other.

“He (Maumelle coach Mike Buchan) called me last week and asked if Fair could come over,” said Bost, “and I said ‘coach, it’s your house, you get to make the rules over there. We’re just ready to play and hit somebody different.’ So that’s what we got to come out and do tonight.

“It was a little different. You couldn’t really get in a rhythm with anybody, but we were able to get it on film so we can see where our mistakes are, maybe if you’re wrong personnel-wise in a couple of spots you can see it on film, because you’re seeing it against live bullets right here. So yeah, we’re going to go and break the film down and see what we got.”

Lonoke’s offense turned the ball over on downs on its first possession, and gave up a 54-yard touchdown run on the sixth play of Maumelle’s first possession to trail early. The Jackrabbits went three and out on their next drive but forced the Hornets to punt the following possession. A shank punt resulted in great field positioning for Lonoke, and it took advantage of the opportunity.

With 5:35 left on the clock, senior starting quarterback Kody Smith connected with fellow senior standout receiver Blake Mack for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Jose Garcia’s extra point was good to knot the score up at 7-7.

Maumelle’s offense then moved the ball down field and kicker Hunter Cockrell booted an 18-yard field goal to put the home team up 10-7. When Lonoke took the field again for its fourth possession, only 2.8 seconds remained in the scrimmage. Smith tried again to connect with Mack on a deep ball near the sideline, but the desperation pass fell incomplete and the first exhibition ended.

Like the first 20-minute scrimmage with Maumelle, Lonoke showed promise offensively against Little Rock Fair by moving the ball downfield on its first possession. However, this time the Jackrabbits punched it in the endzone on a 10-yard quarterback keeper by Smith. Garcia’s extra point was good to set the final score at 7-0.

“I really didn’t like it,” Bost said of the scrimmage format. “It wasn’t a lot of work, but it’s different than practice because we’ve been going at it for three weeks – hitting the same people every day. So that’s good, and like I said, we’ve got it on film, so we can go back and watch it and adjust from there.”

Lonoke’s Sept. 6 regular-season opener at Star City will kick off at approximately 7 p.m.