Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits look to build on last game

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke picked up its first win of the year in surprisingly dominant fashion last week at James B. Abraham Stadium after running all over longtime rival Beebe. This week the Jackrabbits will be looking to make it two in a row as they host another home game Friday against class 5A Little Rock McClellan in the final nonconference game of the regular season.

The Jackrabbits (1-1) racked up a ton of yards on the ground in their 41-14 win over the Badgers, and since McClellan (0-2) lacks both size and experience on the offensive and defensive lines, perhaps an even better performance can be expected this week.

“Yea, just looking at them on film, our offensive and defensive lines should have an advantage,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “They play some guys both ways and they’re not real big, but their skill guys are I think the heart and soul of their team.”

McClellan’s offensive line is the most noteworthy weakness on that side of the ball that Lonoke’s defense expects to exploit. The Lions have no returning starters up front, and none of their current starters can bench press 200 pounds. As far as the skill positions go, like Bost said, they’re the ones that can make things happen.

McClellan has a couple of players that will either line up at quarterback, receiver or running back in the team’s misdirection-based Single Wing formation; an offense Bost says is rarely seen these days. Senior Sydney Tillman and junior Aaron Smith are the two main Lions players that will line up at different spots on the field.

Most of the Lions’ starting skill players run at least a 4.6/40, the fastest of which is elusive junior Ezekiel Baldwin (5-foot-5, 160), who runs a 4.4/40. Bost added that his defensive players will have to stay disciplined against this type of offense. On the flip side, Bost added that his offense can expect to see blitzing from the Lions’ 3-4 defense every time the ball is snapped.

“You’ve really got to read your keys this week and not chase somebody that doesn’t have the ball,” Bost said. “So we’ve got to be disciplined this week, and on defense, they run a 3-4, and they are blitzing somebody every single play. They are coming at you.”

Blitzing someone every play may be the best strategy for McClellan to stop Lonoke’s run game. Last week against Beebe, the Jackrabbits totaled 523 yards of offense, and senior quarterback Kody Smith and sophomore running back Josh Coleman combined for 361 rushing yards and six touchdowns alone.

Coleman’s emergence out of the backfield could give Lonoke a big offensive boost for the remainder of the season, and Bost was especially pleased with his performance last week.

“He had 16 carries for 161 yards and four touchdowns,” Bost said of Coleman. “He had a real good game. He was hitting the hole hard and he did a great job for us Friday night. I feel like we did a real good job of running the ball.”

The Jackrabbits should be in good shape for Friday’s game as Bost says his team suffered zero setbacks as far as injuries in last week’s game, and considering McClellan hasn’t won a nonconference game since 2009, Lonoke could be in good position to end nonconference play this season with a 2-1 record. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.