Tuesday, October 22, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> GCT still after playoffs against Beebe

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Badgers head back to the road this week for the first of two 5A East Conference away games with a Friday showdown against Greene County Tech.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Badgers (4-3, 3-1) got back on the winning track last week with a 35-12 victory over Blytheville on homecoming, a game in which they were heavily favored. The Chickasaws are one of only two teams in the East who are not significant players in the playoff fight.

Through the first month of conference play, only Batesville remains unbeaten at 4-0. The Pioneers went a long way towards securing at least a piece of the East Conference crown with a defeat of Wynne last week. As for the Yellowjackets, they fell to 3-1 in conference play with the loss, along with Beebe and Nettleton.

That might complete the playoff scenario in a normal season, but with Forrest City at 2-2 in league play and GCT at 1-3, it looks as if two decent teams may get left out of postseason play this year.

“There seems to be a lot more parody this year,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “Last year, you had Wynne, Batesville and Forrest City, which were the top three teams for sure, and then everybody else was trying for that fourth spot. Right now, you’ve still got about five or six teams that are still vying for a playoff spot.

“Usually, it takes four wins to get in the playoffs, but this year, it may take five the way the way everybody’s playing. Other than maybe Paragould and Blytheville, everybody is still alive for the four playoff spots, so it’s definitely going to be a wild three-week run here.”

The Eagles (1-6, 1-3) lost to Nettleton last week after picking up their first victory of the season the week before at Blytheville. They are not mathematically out of the playoff fight, but would have to win out at this point, starting this week against the Badgers.

“Offensively, they are a spread team, but they like to run the ball out of the spread about 50 percent of the time,” Shannon said. “They can put you in binds with their formations. Just from a strategy standpoint, they can get you out of position in a hurry and hit you with a big play. Defensively, they’ve got some big kids up front, but they’ve given up a lot of points. You can’t really say how good they are because everyone we’ve seen them against has been a spread team. I don’t know how they’re going to handle the power run we’re going to throw at them.”

The defense looked much better against Blytheville than a week earlier at Wynne, where the Yellowjackets’ inside run game put the Badgers in a bad spot. Added help inside led to big pass plays for Wynne, which resulted in the lopsided score at the end. Against the Chicks, Shannon said the inside line, led by seniors Dusty Skinner and Daniel Gann, shut down the run and allowed the rest of the defense to stay home. Shannon also noted the effort by outside linebackers Jesse Glover and Jesse Crisco.

The school week is short at Beebe High School with classes letting out early on Tuesday and Thursday, and out altogether on Friday.

That does not make the near three-hour road trip up to Paragould on Friday afternoon to take on the Eagles any less stressful for Shannon and the coaching staff.

“We’ve got parent-teacher conferences, out of school on Friday, so we’ve got lots of distractions,” Shannon said. “We talked about that, and how to prepare, making sure they know what’s at stake. Greene County Tech is one of the toughest places in the conference to go play. I always feel like when we get off the bus, we’re 14 points down already. Hopefully, the plan we have will work, and we’ll be ready to play.”