Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Bears’ offense shines Monday

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills High School held its benefit jamboree with three other teams Monday night at Bill Blackwood Field in Sherwood, and in the Bears’ game, the hosts eked out a 21-20 win over Class 4A Pulaski Robinson.

The other two teams were Class 7A Little Rock Catholic and Class 5A Greenbrier. Catholic and Greenbrier played each other for a half before Sylvan Hills and Robinson closed the night with a half of play.

For the Bears, Monday was their second exhibition game played in four days, as they held their annual Blue-White scrimmage game on Friday.

“We played better with that group than we did on Friday night in our Blue-White game,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “We just got to get more consistent. We’ve got to get better fundamentally.”

Defensive play is one area Withrow wasn’t entirely pleased with Monday night. The Bears’ D allowed the Senators’ offense to convert two fourth and long plays that left the coaching staff shaking their heads.

“We gave up some big plays on fourth down,” Withrow said. “Fourth and long we gave up some big plays. We just can’t do that. We kind of showed our youth on those plays. You just can’t do that stuff. You’ve got to do better than that.”

Neither team entered Monday’s exhibition at full strength. Robinson held out two of their top playmakers while Sylvan Hills kept some players out that have been recovering from injuries, including three of their starting offensive linemen, as well as players on defense.

That didn’t take away from the competitiveness of the scrimmage, though, nor did it take away from the offense’s production.

“It was a good scrimmage,” Withrow said, “a lot of athletes, a lot of good plays. We played real well, offensively. We had one series where we didn’t score. We had fourth and 1 and we didn’t make it. We should’ve checked out of it, but we’ll learn from it and hopefully move on.”

The only time the Bears didn’t score was on their last possession. Their first score came on a 3-yard TD run by junior quarterback Jordan Washington.

The next Bears offensive series, Washington connected with Brandon Bracely for a 45-yard touchdown, and Jamar Porter had the final TD of the night for Sylvan Hills on a 1-yard plunge.

The Bears were without three starting offensive linemen, so Withrow said he was pleased with that production.

“Coach (Denny) Tipton does a great job with those linemen, having them ready. I thought the backs ran hard. Jordan threw it well. So it was a pretty good job by everybody.”

That didn’t include the two fourth and long conversions given up by the defense, which is very young up front and in the secondary.

“That was the one thing I was really disappointed at,” Withrow said. “We need to do a better job running routes in our passing game. There are other things we could do better, but you know, I thought the kids competed.

“I thought we played really good in spurts on defense. I thought the kids made some plays here or there. At the end of the night, Hunter Phillips just smoked a guy on the sideline. I mean, took his helmet off. I thought everybody played hard.

“They all realize we’re still competing for positions. It’s good to get something on tape now. We’ll take a look at it, clean some stuff up. We know what game speed’s like. (Robinson) is a potent offensive group. They’re going to score some points. It was a good test for our guys, so I was pleased with it.”