Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle’s 2A playoff hopes on line again

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison will look to keep their playoff hopes alive on Friday when they travel to Brinkley for a 2A-6 Conference matchup that’ll kickoff at 7 p.m.

Carlisle enters the week-eight matchup with a 3-4 overall record and 3-2 record in conference play. With the three conference wins, the Bison are currently fourth in the 2A-6 behind Hazen, Des Arc and McCrory.

Hazen and Des Arc are both unbeaten in league play with 5-0 records, but one of those two will take their first loss Friday as they’re matched up against one another. McCrory enters week eight with a 4-2 record in league play.

Brinkley enters week eight with a 3-3 overall record and a 2-3 record in conference play. Brinkley, Clarendon and Palestine-Wheatley each have two wins in league play, but the Tigers hold the tiebreaker over the two, having beaten both teams earlier in the season.

Even though Carlisle has the slightly better record in league play, the Bison and Tigers look to be evenly matched on paper. Each has already faced the top two 2A-6 teams in Hazen and Des Arc.

Both Carlisle and Brinkley were blown out by the No. 3 ranked Hornets, but the Tigers put up a much tougher fight than Carlisle did against Des Arc. The Bison fell 34-0 at Des Arc in week four.

The week before, the Tigers lost to the Eagles by a slim 42-40 margin at Brinkley. Palestine-Wheatley is the only other team in the conference that both Carlisle and Brinkley have played, and the Bison and Tigers each shutout the Patriots by scores of 22-0 (Carlisle) and 36-0 (Brinkley).

Carlisle’s win over PW came last week at home, while Brinkley had a bye last week. Like Carlisle, Brinkley likes to run the ball, and it’ll do it with leading rusher Daquan Greene (6-2, 220).

The big junior paced the Tigers’ backfield last fall with 907 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, earning him All-2A-6 honors as a sophomore. Brinkley prefers the run game, but has shown it can throw it if it has to.

Senior Case Harrell (6-0, 170) is the Tigers’ quarterback. He led Brinkley to its first playoff win since 2002 last year, passing for nearly 500 yards and eight TDs in 2013. Harrell has two receivers in Johnny Aldridge (5-8, 150) and Jacksonville transfer John James (5-7, 140) that run sub 4.5 40-yard dashes.

An advantage for Brinkley going into Friday night’s game will be its size on the offensive and defensive lines. The Tigers average 291 pounds across the offensive line, anchored by 6-0, 380-pound senior center Tyrek Jones.

Defensively, the Tigers have had problems stopping opponents. Brinkley has allowed 27.4 points per game in conference play, but the Tigers have already played the top three teams in the 2A-6.

Carlisle has struggled on defense as well this season, allowing a slightly lower 24.4 points per game in league play thus far. The Bison defense held PW and winless Marvell to a combined 12 points, but against Hazen, Des Arc and Augusta (1-6, 1-5), the Bison gave up a total of 110 points, including 38 to Augusta.