Tuesday, September 09, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lakeside takes on Hillside

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills Bears hope to carry the momentum of their big second half last week into its week-two road game Friday at Hot Springs Lakeside. The Bears scored 21 unanswered points to win 41-18 at Vilonia last week, but head coach Jim Withrow thinks his team will need to be better this time.

“That’s it,” said Withrow. “We’ve just got to be better because we’re playing a better team. I think Lakeside has more speed than we saw at Vilonia, and they attack hard on defense. There’s going to be six coming at you on every play.”

The Rams’ defense proved very strong in its first game, a 36-0 shutout of class 4A Lincoln, who went 11-2 and advanced to the state semifinals last year.

While the Rams took care of the Wolves easily, Withrow believes his team will have more speed for Lakeside to deal with than Lincoln did.

The goal is to utilize that speed and make the blitz-happy Rams pay for playing such a high-risk defense.

“We hope we can,” Withrow said. “With a defense like that it’s hit or miss. If you hit, you hit it big, but if you don’t pick it up, it can cost you big, too. I thought the offensive line played really well against Vilonia, but it’s going to be a different challenge this week.”

Lakeside presents a much different challenge for Sylvan Hills’ defense, too. Vilonia played a two-tight, Double Wing power brand of football. Lakeside’s tackles will be 15 yards apart and the ball will be flying around the air most of the time.

Last year’s game was a wild one, with the Bears coming out on top 45-41. Withrow can see a similar game taking place this week, but believes his defense can improve upon last year’s performance.

Sylvan Hills’ coaches are still trying to find depth on the defense. The Eagles came close to scoring a couple of times in the second half. When a few offensive starters were inserted into the defense, the Vilonia drives were thwarted.

“We’re trying to play as many people one way as we can,” Withrow said. “When they got close in the second half we’d put some offensive guys in there, some of our seniors, and they’d lock it down. Overall I think the defense played well, but for the most part they’re younger guys. I think they’re coming along. We didn’t expect them to start out shutting everybody down. There’s not a whole lot of experience over there. But down the road, we’re going to have to get some mileage out of those younger guys on defense if we’re going to go very far.”