Wednesday, November 05, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke playing for four

Leader sportswriter

The Lonoke Jackrabbits punched their ticket to the Class 4A state playoffs with last week’s 28-0 win over Stuttgart, but the Jackrabbits can earn the No. 4 seed out of the 4A-2 Conference if they beat Riverview on Thursday at James B. Abraham Stadium.

Lonoke’s playoff hopes looked dim at the midway point of the season, but since knocking off Central Arkansas Christian in week eight, the Jackrabbits have won two-straight conference games to lock up at least the No. 5 seed out of the conference, but a win Thursday will give the Rabbits the four seed.

“If we win Thursday we’ll be the four (seed), if we lose we’ll be the five,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “Newport beat CAC last week. CAC and Stuttgart play this week and the winner is in and the loser would be out. So yes, we are in.”

There have been several key factors that have led to the Rabbits’ late-season turnaround. Moving junior receiver Justin Meadows to running back in week eight has helped Lonoke’s run game immensely, taking some of the focus off junior tailback Josh Coleman.

In the last two games since moving to the backfield, Meadows has carried the ball a total of 36 times for 466 yards (13 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Lonoke’s defense has played lights out as well the last two weeks, in part because their starters are getting healthy at the right time.

“For sure the run game on offense has really gotten us going,” Bost said, “and the defense has been playing great. The last two weeks they’ve only given up really 14 points, and we gave up zero points this past week. So that’s definitely a good thing.

“The kids’ energy and excitement has been so great the last couple of weeks. So we hope we can carry that over.”

As for Riverview (2-7, 1-5), the Raiders are a Spread team on offense, like Lonoke (4-5, 3-3), but they bring a more balanced attack. The skill positions are Riverview’s biggest strength, and Bost said the ones that stand out on that side of the ball are senior tailback Xavier Barrow and junior quarterback David Lee.

Barrow played the majority of last season with a fractured ankle, but still carried the ball 73 times for 452 yards and three touchdowns. Lee took all of the meaningful snaps at QB last season, and completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,051 yards and 12 TDs with 10 interceptions.

“Their tailback, number five (Barrow), he’s a big kid,” Bost said. “I would say he’s every bit of right at six foot, 215 (pounds). He looks real big on film, and the quarterback is a runner and a thrower. So that’s kind of the two main ones we’ve seen there.”

Defensively, the Raiders are multiple, and have lined up in a 4-4, a 3-5 and a 3-4, and Bost expects his offense to see all three formations Thursday night.

“I think we’re going to get a bunch of looks from them on the defensive side of the ball,” Bost said. “They’re going to have to be able to recognize it, because they just kind of bounce around from one defense to another, try and confuse you. So yeah, we’re going to have to really look at that this week in practice.”

Thursday’s regular-season finale will in all likelihood be the final home game for the Jackrabbits this season, that’s including the playoffs, and kickoff is at 7 p.m.