Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke ready to host Pokey

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke will host its first playoff game since 2009 Friday at James B. Abraham Stadium against the No. 4 seed from the 4A-3 Conference, the Pocahontas Redskins, in the first round of the class 4A state playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

The last time the Jackrabbits hosted a playoff game, they handed now class 5A Clarksville a 48-21 loss in the first round. Lonoke coach Doug Bost hopes his team can have as much first-round success this year as the 2009 team did, which was Bost’s first year as the Jackrabbits’ head coach.

“It’s awesome,” Bost said about hosting a playoff game. “It was ’09 the last home playoff game we had. The kids finished up the regular season 8-2. They’re excited that they get to host a playoff game, and hopefully we’ll get two with a win Friday night.”

Pocahontas (4-6) earned a spot in the playoffs for the third-straight year by pummeling Jonesboro-Westside 43-12 last week. The Redskins have been playing some of their best football as of late, and have done so after overcoming a lot of adversity in the summer.

Before the season even began, Pocahontas lost a player to a car accident, and longtime Redskins’ coach Dave Williams hasn’t coached all year since being diagnosed with cancer. The No. 4 seed from the northeast part of the state is a hard-nosed, run first football team that Bost said will try and control the clock and wear you down with their physical style of play.

“They’re a very disciplined, hard-nosed team,” Bost said of Pocahontas. “Offensive-wise, you’re going to get a lot of two tights (tight ends), and just running the ball right at you. It’s a power offense. And then defensive-wise, it looks like they’re going to be in a 3-4 defense, which we’ve seen several times this year.

“Actually, we just saw it (last) Friday night against Clinton. So we know how to block that.”

Lonoke had already locked up the No. 2 playoff seed out of the 4A-2 Conference with a close week nine win over Stuttgart. But in week 10’s regular-season finale, the Jackrabbits had to come from behind to beat Clinton 45-38.

The Jackrabbits have had a few players shine on the offensive side of the ball the last two weeks. Sophomore tailback Josh Coleman has rushed for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the previous two games played, while senior quarterback Kody Smith has also put up big rushing numbers during that stretch.

Do-it-all senior offensive playmaker Blake Mack had the most significant runs against Stuttgart and Clinton, as he scored what ended up being the game-winning touchdowns in each game.

Bost hopes his team can continue to have that kind of success running the ball Friday against the Redskins.

“I’d say we probably have a little more speed than they do, so hopefully that’ll be a factor,” Bost said. “The linemen for us have been our strength all year – being able to run the ball. We’ll definitely lean on them to try and control their defensive line.

“I was really impressed with the sophomore Josh Coleman the other night (against Clinton). I mean, he had 24 carries for 224 yards. That’s pretty good for a 10th-grader.”

As far as how the Jackrabbits plan on preparing for Pocahontas, Bost said they’ll treat this week as if it was any other week, and stick to the routine that got them to the playoffs in the first place.

“This is the opponent for this week,” Bost said. “We’re not looking ahead to anybody else. We’re just worried about Pocahontas. We just want to go out, have a good week of practice, and be ready to go Friday night.”