Friday, August 26, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Young Badgers physical with HA

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers showed a few signs of its inexperience in their preseason scrimmage against Harding Academy on Tuesday, but head coach John Shannon was still pleased overall with how his young team performed.

In a non-game type scrimmage at Irwin Stadium, Beebe outscored the Wildcats 36-24. The format featured two halves of each team’s second-string offense going against the other’s second-string defense for 15 plays each, then the first strings doing the same.

“We made some mistakes, but you expect that the first time they go against somebody, especially with as many sophomores as we have out there,” said Shannon. “What I was worried about coming in was how physical we were going to be. You never know with these sophomores, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. I think we’ve clearly been the more physical team. I know they’re 3A, but they’re defending champions and they’re supposed to be really good.”

Mason Walker quarterbacked the Dead-T for most of the first string’s first set of plays, but moved to a spread formation for the last few. The drive moved from the Beebe 25-yard line to the Harding Academy 30 in eight plays.

The first pass attempt fell incomplete, but Walker kept for a first down on the next play. Kahlil Anthony then ran for 10 yards and another apparent first down, but it was called back for holding. That put Beebe behind the chains and it couldn’t convert another first down.

The teams reset at the Beebe 30 with two plays remaining, and sophomore halfback Taylor Boyce scrambled 70 yards, first up the middle before cutting to his left, for a touchdown.

On Harding Academy’s first offensive play for the first string, sophomore cornerback Luke Oakley made a diving interception of a short pass that went through the hands of the intended receiver.

The Wildcats reset back at the 30, and lost 5 yards in the next two plays. On third and 15, they completed an 11-yard pass, and then drew Beebe off sides on fourth and 4.

Three more plays gained just 1 yard for HA, and Oakley came through again on fourth and 9 when he stepped in front of an out route for an interception that he ran back 45 yards for a touchdown.

The Wildcats, which scored twice against Beebe’s second-string defense, finally scored against the first team on its second 15-play possession, but not until after Boyce picked off a pass near midfield and returned it about 20 yards.

Harding Academy’s second-string offense, which consisted largely of starters on defense because the team had only 26 players, hit a 70-yard touchdown pass on the first play of its second drive, and hit another long touchdown pass later in the same possession.

Beebe’s second first-team possession featured backup quarterback C.J. Cauldwell running from mostly the spread formation. That offense moved the ball well on the ground, but turned it over deep in Harding Academy territory. The Badgers eventually scored when Cauldwell kept for a 5-yard touchdown run.

The Badgers open the regular season in the same place it ended the season last year in the playoffs, at Greenbrier next Friday.

The Panthers were routed in their scrimmage game, losing 42-14 to Sylvan Hills in one half of real-game play.