Friday, June 13, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Bears second at Joe T. High

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills skill players turned in an excellent performance at the 7-on-7 tournament at Joe T. Robinson High School on Thursday, winning four games and finishing second to Conway with a 30-14 loss in the tournament championship.

That game was tied 14-14 with five minutes left, but after a Conway score, the Bears failed to execute two fade routes on back-to-back plays from the 4-yard line.

The fade was the obvious call. Sylvan Hills drew a mismatch when 6-fooot-3 receiver Jordan Washington lined up across from a 5-foot-4 Wampus Cat defensive back, but neither throw from the Bears’ quarterback was high enough, and the defensive back was able to knock each pass down, giving Conway two points for the stop. The Wampus Cats then scored on their next possession with less than a minute remaining to set the final margin.

“I should’ve just stuck with what we were doing, but I started coaching and that was our downfall,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “But man, I’m not going to complain about today. They stuck us in that division with all the big schools, and we competed. I thought (Tra) Doss looked phenomenal throwing the ball. Receivers ran good routes and caught the ball well. It was pretty solid.”

The Bears opened with a 23-17 loss to Pine Bluff in which the Zebras scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass at the buzzer to get the win.

The Bears reversed that fate by scoring on the last play to beat Little Rock Central 37-31. After that they beat Greenbrier 37-21 and beat Bryant 40-21 to earn a trip to the final against Conway.

Doss did a good job of spreading the ball around as well. Nathan Thomas, who was the leading receiver last season, had a good day Thursday. As did tailback Marlon Clemmons, who caught several passes and led the team in touchdown catches in the tournament. Tight end Elijah Sowards also caught several passes, including both touchdowns against Conway.

Washington, a sophomore, and fellow split end Cameron Dews both caught several passes.

“We’re not going to have enough this year to two-platoon, but offensively I think we’re going to be good,” Withrow said. “I say that, and we might go out there and average 10 points, but I don’t think so. We’re still looking for the right pieces to the puzzle on defense, but we’re looking forward to seeing what we can do this next season.”

In the win over Central, Clemmons caught four touchdowns passes for a total of 109 yards. The last two were 40-yard connections including the one at the buzzer after Central had scored with 45 seconds left to take a 31-30 lead.

Sowards had two touchdowns in three different games and Washington had interceptions in two games.

North Pulaski also competed in the event in the small school division and went 0-4. The Falcons lost 32-13 to Malvern, 22-13 to Robinson, 27-11 to Marion and 24-17 to Bauxite. Against the Miners, North Pulaski’s Kalise Vines caught two 40-yard touchdown passes, and caught two others against Robinson, but one in each game were called back for time violations. Teams have four seconds to pass the ball after the snap.

The Falcons gave up one touchdown drive to the Miners even though Bauxite completed just 1 of 9 pass attempts.

Twice on third-down incompletions (teams only have three downs to pick up 15 yards) the Falcons were called for defensive holding. After another incomplete pass, Bauxite completed a 10-yard touchdown pass for the score.

The Falcons held the Miners to just 6 of 21 passing when they took possession with time for one snap, and completed a 40-yarder for the winning touchdown.

“I come here strictly to work the defensive backs, but I want kids to compete,” said North Pulaski coach Teodis Ingram. “I felt like we competed hard in every game except Robinson, even though we almost won that one, too. Kids didn’t compete. They got knocked off their routes and they gave up on them. Everything is not a skeleton drill. That’s going to happen and you have to fight to get back on that route. We just didn’t do that in that game.

“Otherwise I felt pretty good about our defense and how we competed on that side of the ball. That’s why we come to these things.”