Tuesday, September 16, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> JHS tries to leave last week behind

Leader sports editor

First order of business this week for the Jacksonville football team was to put last week behind it. The Red Devils went to Benton and took a 66-0 thumping from the Class 6A Panthers, and now stay on the road for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Little Rock Christian Academy on Friday.

Jacksonville coaches knew their team faced an uphill battle against the bigger, faster and deeper Panthers, and couldn’t afford mistakes. But mistakes it made. Jacksonville committed five turnovers. One resulted in a touchdown, another resulted in a 1-yard scoring drive, and all five eventually turned into points for the home team.

The Red Devils spotted their host seven points by giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff, and things continued spiral downwards from that point.

So pushing forward was the mantra of the day on Monday as the team began preparation for the Warriors.

“That’s behind us,” said first-year Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “It’s a learning process. We’re going to try to learn from it and move on. That game was what it was – just a bad, bad night to be a Red Devil.”

What did the team learn from it?

“One thing we learned is that when you have turnovers, things snowball on you,” Hickingbotham said. “We had five turnovers that turned into touchdowns. Special teams gave up a touchdown, that’s 42 points right there.”

Jacksonville also had a very difficult time moving the football. Benton brought a lot of pressure and Jacksonville wasn’t able to pick it up most of the time. Hickingbotham played 10 different linemen like he has in every game so far, but hopes to be able to reduce that to one unit by the time conference starts.

“It all starts up front and we found out we’re susceptible right now to that kind of pressure,” Hickingbotham said. “We didn’t pick things up very well and we weren’t able to move the ball. That’s what we’re striving and starving for right now is some consistency on offense. We’re still rotating 10 guys in there and hopefully we’ll find five of them that we know we can go with here pretty soon.”

The Warriors bring a suddenly swift team to the field compared to last year. With the addition of Division I prospect Damarea Crockett, a transfer from Camden-Fairview, at running back, to take some of the pressure off a stable of good receivers, the Warriors have made big strides of improvement since last year.

“Looking at last year’s film and this year’s, it’s like night and day,” Hickingbotham said. “They’re a much better team. They’ve got the Fairview kid at running back. They have a very fast receiver, a good possession receiver and a really good offensive line. It’s going to be another challenge for us for sure. It’s going to be a test.”

Joe Hampton is a 6-foot-2, 185-pound college prospect at receiver and Hunter McFarlane moves outside from tailback with the addition of Crocket (6-1, 200).

Pass protection has been a big key to the Warriors’ success this year. Quarterback Brooks Boshears has dropped back 70 times in two games, and been sacked only once.

LRCA opened with a 40-30 loss at Fountain Lake, but bounced back with a 44-33 win over White Hall at home last week.

“They had some hiccups against Fountain Lake that cost them, but they got some of those things taken care of and beat a solid football team in White Hall,” Hickingbotham said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We want to sew up some things and just get better. We want to be 1-2 in conference, and then another season begins.”