Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Competition level rising for Carlisle

Leader sportswriter

The Bison play their final nonconference game of the regular season this week at home against class 3A Osceola (1-1), and even though the game itself has no playoff or conference implications, Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree believes it’s a great opportunity for his team to face stellar competition before 2A-6 Conference play begins next week.

Carlisle (2-0), the No. 2 team in class 2A, dominated most of the way in its week one win over McCrory, but in week two’s win at Mountain Pine, the host Red Devils, who have only 17 players on their roster, did almost nothing to challenge the Bison.

This week however, Barbaree knows his team will get that challenge from a traditionally-tough and athletic Seminoles team.

“We just want to see growth,” said Barbaree as to what he’d like to see from his team Friday. “Yea, we want to stay healthy, but we need competitive football games and this is definitely one of them. To play at Mountain Pine and get a ‘W’ is fine, but we need somebody that’s going to push us, and I think this might be that game that we get four quarters, and our kids need that kind of competitive game.”

Carlisle’s trio of senior standout running backs that include Bo Weddle, DeRon Ricks and Justice Bryant, combined for just six carries in the team’s 46-7 win over Mountain Pine, but each scored a touchdown and the three combined for 196 rushing yards on those six carries.

Barbaree says that Osceola has switched from its traditional Wishbone offense to more of a Pistol/Spread formation, but added that the Seminoles are capable of executing run plays from their old offense. Barbaree also said his defense can expect a more balanced attack.

According to Barbaree, the Seminoles’ offense is balanced 60/40 as far as run/pass ratio, and even though the Bison won’t have to deal with former Osceola running back and current Arkansas Razorback freshman Korliss Marshall this season, he said there are still plenty of playmakers that his defense will have to try and contain.

One of those playmakers is junior running back Tevin James, whose older brothers Harold and Chris each received Division I football scholarships after graduating from Osceola in the early 2000s.

“Tevin fits that same mold,” Barbaree said. “The guy can fly. He’s scored on a kickoff and interception return. He’s got a long receiving touchdown and he’s broke for long rushing touchdowns.”

The other playmaker Barbaree described as a threat is Ashton Mills.

“He had 200 yards against Blytheville,” Barbaree said of Mills, “which Blytheville can run too. So their level of competition has been high and they have the athletes that have the chance to score quickly from anywhere.”

Defensively, the Seminoles line up primarily in a 50 formation, which in many ways resembles a 3-4. Carlisle got to rest a lot of its starters against Mountain Pine last week, so the Bison starters should be healthy and ready to go come Friday.

Carlisle could be considered the favorite for this game, even though Barbaree himself admitted Osceola is the bigger, more athletic team. However, Barbaree and his team welcome the challenge.

“It’s going to test us in a bunch of ways,” Barbaree said. “This is a team that’s more athletic than us. McCrory wasn’t more athletic than us but they were athletic. Mountain Pine wasn’t, but this team is more athletic, and it’s really going to test us in a bunch of spots.”

Kickoff at Fred C. Hardke Field is set for 7 p.m.