Tuesday, November 05, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Bison try to rebound

Leader sportswriter

After losing their first game this season to Des Arc last week at home, the Carlisle Bison will look to start another winning streak Friday when they travel to England for the final regular-season game of the year. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Carlisle can still win a share of the 2A-6 Conference championship if Hazen beats Des Arc on Friday. The Bison even have a shot at still getting the No. 1 seed in the class 2A state playoffs if they beat England by at least 13 points, and if Hazen beats Des Arc by at least seven points. If Des Arc wins, Carlisle will be guaranteed the No. 2 seed if it beats the Lions by the 13-point margin.

The injury bug has bitten the Bison (8-1, 5-1) significantly in the past few weeks. After losing senior quarterback/safety Austin Reed to a season-ending knee injury after week seven’s game against archrival Hazen, Carlisle had a plethora of injuries during last week’s game against Des Arc, who took control of the 2A-6 standings with the 20-14 upset win.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Des Arc,” said Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree. “They’re a good, physical football team, and well-coached. Coach (Dustin) Prescott does a great job. We got beat up a little bit, had some injuries early, and it affected some of our play-calling and what we can do offensively and defensively.

“But Des Arc physically controlled the game, and when it all came down to it that’s how they beat us.”

Senior standout running back DeRon Ricks, who’s put together a stellar season in the Bison backfield, was forced to carry the load almost single-handedly last week against Des Arc as fellow senior standout running backs Bo Weddle and Justice Bryant, as well as junior running back Chance Richards, had to leave the game for various injuries.

Weddle’s injury was a strained hamstring, but he later returned to the game despite soreness, and is expected to suit up Friday at England (6-3, 4-2).

Bryant has a hip-pointer and will likely sit out this week’s game. Richards, who’s the Bison’s fourth running back, suffered a badly sprained ankle against Des Arc and will likely sit out this week as well.

“We’re having to move bodies around and play guys that we didn’t know we’d have to count on,” Barbaree said, “but they’ve stepped up and are trying to get better. So we’ll have a little different lineup this week.”

Barbaree, who’s in his first season as the head Bison, previously coached at England.

In 2010, he led the Lions to their first winning season in more than 20 years. He left the program in 2012 to join former Carlisle coach Scott Waymire’s staff, but is still very familiar with who the Lions’ current playmakers are and who to be aware of on the England defense.

“Of course they’ve got some tremendous athletes,” Barbaree said. “They still have a lot of the guys I got to coach as seventh, eighth and ninth-graders. It’s a different environment for me just because I’ve been around those kids and they were my life for three years. It’s a good group of kids, and they’ll give us a good fight.”

Barbaree said this version of the Lions under current coach Terry Farmer have been seen on film in as many as 27 different formations.

Earlier in the season, England’s offense took a lot of snaps out of the Spread formation, but as of late the Lions have run a lot of Pro-I and Wishbone plays.

Even though Barbaree has seen everything England does offensively, he’s not entirely sure how his former team will plan to attack his current team.

“You never know,” Barbaree said. “When you’re able to get in that many formations, and be so multiple, you never know what they’re going to get in against us. But we’ll prepare for what they do best, and hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”

Defensively, England is also multiple in its formations, but last year the Lions consistently lined up with six down linemen against the Bison, and Barbaree expects that to be the case come Friday.

“They ran a six front against us last year,” Barbaree said. “On film we’ve seen them in a five front, but we’re going to prepare for both of them, and hopefully we’ll be able to block both of them and see how we like our personnel.”