Tuesday, November 11, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe going right at Raiders

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers enter the 5A state playoffs with about as much momentum as any 6-4 team could have. The Badgers stay at home as a two seed to host former conference rival Nettleton at 7 p.m. Friday. The Raiders are the three seed from Beebe’s old 5A-East. They went into week 10 with a 5-1 conference mark and tied with Wynne for second place, but got blown out in the second half and fell 50-29 to the Yellowjackets.

Nettleton led that game 22-21 at halftime and scored first in the second half, taking a 29-21 lead almost halfway through the third quarter. The Beebe coaching staff, having played on Thursday of last week, went to Wynne to watch the game. Beebe head coach John Shannon noted what he thought was the difference between the first two and a half quarters and the last quarter and a half.

“Wynne finally decided to just line up and run it right at them, and that’s when Nettleton got into some trouble,” said Shannon. “Wynne was trying to throw the ball around and get people in space, but Nettleton’s defense runs to the ball really well. It was when Wynne started going right at them that they struggled.”

That could turn out to be a positive sign for Beebe and its Dead-T offense, which is designed to go right into the belly of defenses often stacking nine or 10 in the box.

“We don’t make you chase us around so hopefully from what we saw last Friday we can match up pretty well with them,” Shannon said. “We’ve felt pretty confident in our offense all season when we avoid the mistakes. We still have to find a way to slow down that quarterback. He’s the key to their success. He does a good job on the read, the counter, the sweep. He’s got a couple of big receivers. They just went up and outjumped Wynne’s defenders on a couple of plays – kind of like a post player in basketball. They remind me a lot of Sylvan Hills with what they do on offense.”

The Badgers had to outscore Sylvan Hills in week nine, winning 41-37, but giving up more than 300 yards rushing. The Badgers’ offense has excelled of late too.

After a dismal 0-3 start to the season, in which more than their share of injuries and turnovers, combined with crucially timed penalties, doomed the nonconference schedule.

Since then, no one in conference play, with the exception of Jacksonville, has even slowed the Badgers down. Even in the loss to Pulaski Academy, Beebe averaged 9.4 yards per carry, rushing for 485 yards in that game.

Fullback Trip Smith didn’t play until game four, and has already surpassed 1,100 yards this season. Halfback Jo’Vaughn Wyrick is less than 40 yards from 1,000 this season despite only 78 carries.