Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Week 8 crucial and not so much

Leader sports staff


Week eight of the high school football season should be meaningful for every team in playoff contention, but it’s not. The Cabot Panthers play a meaningless mismatch against Mountain Home at Panther Stadium on Friday.

The Panthers (7-0, 4-0) host a Bomber team that did manage to snap a 31-game losing streak that stretched back to week two of the 2012 season. Mountain Home beat Valley View 20-14 in week two this year after losing its last nine games in 2012 and going winless the last two seasons. But they haven’t won since, and haven’t been competitive since conference play began. Making matters worse for Friday’s visitors is that Cabot is the best team on the Bombers’ schedule.

It’s not likely, though, that the Panthers will run up 83 or 62 points on the Bombers like Jonesboro and North Little Rock did. Jonesboro at least had the excuse of also giving up 41 points, but Cabot coach Mike Malham has been much more inclined in recent years to take his foot off the gas when obvious mismatch games are in hand.


A much more vital game takes place down Hwy. 89 in Lonoke County.

Lonoke snapped its own four-game losing streak with a 26-16 win at Helena-West Helena Central last Friday, and needs to continue to win if it hopes to get back to the playoffs. Things won’t get any easier this Friday when the Mustangs make the trip to James B. Abraham Stadium.

The Mustangs enter Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff with a 6-1 overall record and a perfect 4-0 record in 4A-2 Conference play. They’re coming off a 30-point win over Southside Batesville, a team that beat Lonoke two weeks ago.

CAC has scored 42 first-half points in the last two weeks, and have plenty of experience back from last year, especially at the skill positions. Last week against Southside, senior running back Braylon Harris ran for three touchdowns and quarterback Noah Evans threw a 68-yard touchdown pass.

“They’ve got their running back back from last year,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost said of Harris. “He’s 6-foot, 215, really reminds me of Brandon Smith, who I had back in ’09 – just a big ole thick kid that runs the ball extremely well.

“They’ve got a receiver (Josh Johnson), that’s probably 6-1 and they throw it to him. As far as their quarterback, he can throw it on the money. It’s kind of those three guys that the offense goes through.

“They run the zone to perfection, so we’ve got to stop that. And then, like I said, they’ll throw the ball to No. 4 (Johnson). So, three guys we’ve really got to concentrate on this week, as far as our defensive game plan.”

Although the Mustangs have beaten two teams that beat Lonoke this year, the Jackrabbits weren’t 100 percent in those games, as they had a number of key players nursing injuries. Also, CAC only beat Helena by two points in week five.

Lonoke upset CAC last year, and that was the start of a midseason turnaround for the Jackrabbits, who won four of their last five regular-season games to earn a playoff berth. Bost is hoping his team can build off of last week’s win and use it as a catapult for another midseason turnaround.

“That’s what we told our kids,” Bost said. “You’ve got to be hungry for some more. We’ve got to have a good week of practice and get ready. But yeah, we sure want to build on it.

“We had several hurt against Heber and we very easily think we could’ve won, and then the four turnovers against Southside hurt us. So, we’ve just got to put a full game together like we did the other night and see what we can do.”


The Beebe Badgers’ home game against J.A. Fair won’t be competitive either, but it will be meaningful. With Pulaski Academy and Sylvan Hills undefeated, and McClellan with just one loss, the Badgers are fighting for the one remaining playoff spot.

A lot of scenarios could still play out in the 5A-Central Conference, but at quick glance, the odds are in Beebe’s favor.

The Badgers (3-4, 2-2) have just two conference games left. A win this Friday will give them that crucial third conference win. It’s still not settled, though. Beebe could assure itself of a playoff spot with an upset of Sylvan Hills next week. But there’s also a scenario in which Beebe could finish 3-3 and not make the playoffs.

If Jacksonville and McClellan also finish 3-3, creating a three-way tie for third and fourth place, Beebe is probably the team left out.


Carlisle scored a late touchdown to save its playoff aspirations last week at Palestine-Wheatley. That 27-26 win makes the Bison 3-2 in league play (3-4 overall).

They now have another game this week that appears to be an even matchup with the Brinkley Tigers (3-3, 2-3) coming to town. The teams share three common opponents. Both beat PWHS, and both lost to Des Arc and Hazen, but the scores indicate little.

Brinkley handled the Patriots 25-0 in week two, much more easily than Carlisle. Brinkley was also much more competitive with Hazen, losing 28-14 while Carlisle lost 51-20. But Des Arc blew Brinkley away 43-16, while barely getting by Carlisle 28-24.

Neither team will be eliminated from playoff contention with a loss, but a win for either team will almost assure a postseason spot.