Friday, May 23, 2014

SPORTS STORY>>Lonoke’s new look ignites new energy

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits took the field for their first spring football practice on Monday with some new faces and a new look. Lonoke took to the practice field dawning purple helmets as opposed to the traditional white helmets from years past.

It’s a fresh new look that’ll go along with the Jackrabbits’ new uniforms that’ll arrive later this summer – a look Lonoke coach Doug Bost says his players are excited about.

“The kids are excited,” Bost said. “They love them. I tell you what; it’s also our year for new uniforms. We’ll get those in around July. We knew this year we were getting new uniforms, so we thought, hey, let’s just change up the helmets, too, and we showed them off to the kids about a month ago and they’re excited about it.”

Other than the new helmetsthe players were excited to try out, Bost said it was just good to get all of his players back on the football field and be in a practice setting again.

“It’s exciting,” Bost said. “This year we had a bunch of kids play baseball – about 13 – and their season ended about two weeks ago. So we’ve got the whole team out there. I think our numbers are right at 48 (players). It’s just been good to get out there.

“We feel like we’ve had three good days of practice. We’ve done an hour of defense, an hour of offense. We’ve got a lot back from last year that are very familiar with our offense and defense, so that’s been real good.”

The most noticeable returning starter on offense is junior running back Josh Coleman. Last year as a sophomore, Coleman ran for 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Jackrabbits, who finished the season 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the class 4A state playoffs.

“He’s definitely a big part of our offense,” Bost said of Coleman.

Besides Coleman, Bost said he and his staff feel good about the rest of the talent they have at the skill positions, including junior Mark Odom, who played receiver some last year, as well as the rest of the receiving corps.

“Mark Odom is a kid that moved here from Cabot last year. He didn’t get a lot of playing time, but he’s the fastest kid that we have. The receivers are going to be good for us. Justin Meadows, he started the last six games for us. We feel real good about our skill guys.”

Savonte Rountree, a junior, is expected to take the starting quarterback job, but Bost said that sophomore Logan Dozier will get plenty of reps at the position as well. Dozier quarterbacked the junior Jackrabbits to a conference championship last fall.

Bost will have to find some players to fill in on his undersized offensive line. Three starters graduated from last year’s team, but center Chance Bronson and right tackle Jacob Vandiver are returning starters up front.

That’s one area Bost will have to sure up, but he said he feels good about where they currently stand on the defensive side of the ball.

Bost said he’s got seven to nine starters already in mind for his 4-3 defense, all of whom have varsity experience, including leading tacklers Ethan Holland, a middle linebacker, and outside linebacker Chandler Elmore.

“Those were our two leading tacklers,” Bost said. “They’re both back in their linebacker spots. We feel good about defense.”

Overall, Bost added that the transition from offseason workouts to spring drills has been relatively smooth.

“It’s been pretty smooth,” Bost said. “Spring time and summer time you want to get those back-ups plenty of reps, and they need to know the plays as good as the first group does.

“You never know what can happen. You want to have somebody that can step in and know what to do. We really want to give those guys a chance to get in there and show what they can do.”