Friday, July 10, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke County teams making most of 7-on-7

Leader sportswriter

Cabot High School hosted its fourth 7-on-7 football exhibition Wednesday at Panther Stadium, with five other schools taking part.

Other than the hosts, Lonoke, McClellan, J.A. Fair, Hazen and Des Arc were the teams competing. The five teams each played a total of four short exhibitions, and the two Lonoke County schools each made plays throughout that period.

Neither Cabot nor Lonoke will rely heavily on the passing game once the actual season starts, but having some summer competition to work on specifics is something both schools welcome.

“We had great effort,” said Cabot defensive coordinator Randall Black. “We’re trying and our kids are going to try, but the bottom line is we’re going to have to make some plays. That’s what we’re really emphasizing.”

Finding depth at certain positions is something else Black and the rest of the Panther coaching staff hopes to achieve and then develop as the summer progresses.

“Basically, we’re looking for the five, six, seven player,” Black said. “We’re looking for some depth.”

Cabot hosted another 7-on-7 meet Monday, but that consisted largely of JV players. Many of Cabot’s starters, though, were on hand Wednesday, including junior All-State quarterback Jarrod Barnes.

Barnes made some good reads and throws in Cabot’s first two exhibitions against Hazen and J.A. Fair, as well as against Lonoke in the third. The Jackrabbits, though, took first possession and scored first on an unlikely play.

After two incomplete passes by senior quarterback Savonte Rountree to start the drive, which began at the 40-yard line, Rountree threw into heavy coverage but connected with receiver Justin Meadows for a 40-yard score.

On Cabot’s first drive, Barnes completed an 11-yard pass on the first play, and two to his brother Holdyn Barnes on plays two and three that resulted in 29- and 10-yard gains.

On the next play, Jarrod Barnes connected with teammate Bret Locke for a 5-yard touchdown. The Jackrabbits, though, answered with another score on their second possession.

The first two plays were completions. The first was a 13-yard Rountree to Meadows completion and the second was a 17-yard completion to Casey Martin. Rountree’s third pass was dropped, but the next was another Meadows touchdown.

On that play, from the 10-yard line, Rountree, taking the snap at the right hash mark, rolled left and connected with a wide-open Meadows in the back left corner of the end zone for another Lonoke score.

Cabot’s next possession saw Barnes complete his first three passes, two of which were to Bryce Crockom. The fourth play was an incompletion, but Barnes found Easton Seidl for a gain of 10-plus, which put the ball at the 9-yard line.

Jarrod Barnes connected with his brother again for a 7-yard gain on the next play, and then Crockom for a 2-yard score.

On Lonoke’s next possession, Rountree completed a 15-yard pass to Logan Dozier on the first play, but the next two passes were incomplete. Cabot then took possession for one more play at the 40-yard line, and Jarrod Barnes threw a perfect deep ball to the corner of the end zone, where he found his brother Holdyn, who made the jumping catch into tight coverage for a stellar 40-yard score.

In Lonoke’s final exhibition against McClellan, the Jackrabbits’ secondary gave up another 40-yard score on the last play of the scrimmage, which wasn’t the way head coach Doug Bost wanted to end the day.

“It’s laid back here, but at the same time, when you’re getting work done, and to get beat when they say last play of the game – you know they’re going to chunk it in the end zone because it’s the last play, and when you get beat twice like that, it’s disappointing. That’s just a lack of effort and concentration.”

Lonoke did, though, have a number of good things to take away from Wednesday’s meet, and Bost pointed out his quarterback as one that showed improvement since Monday’s 7-on-7 meet at CHS.

“Savonte came in (Wednesday) morning to work on some footwork,” Bost said. “Monday, his footwork wasn’t that good, so he came in and did a little extra work and it showed. He threw better balls today than he did Monday.”

Rountree had a good day overall, but Meadows was the player of the day for Lonoke. He made the play of the meet against McClellan. On that play, he made a one-handed catch with his left hand in the back of the end zone for a 20-plus-yard score, and he later made another one-handed deep catch.

“We’re going to play him some at inside (receiver) and some at outside,” Bost said of Meadows, “so we can move him around to try and get some matchups that we want out of him, run game and pass game. So he’s a good weapon.”

Martin, a baseball standout that didn’t play football last year, also showed promising signs Wednesday, as well as the returning Jackrabbit skill players.

“To get Casey back, he gives us some good speed,” Bost said. “He runs good routes. Logan was our third leading receiver last year and he’s back for us this year. Josh (Coleman) can catch the ball. Jawaun (Bryant) is back and I think he was our fourth leading receiver.

“We got those guys and this is good practice for them, offense and defense.”