Wednesday, October 05, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, Badgers hosting homecomings

Leader sports editor

Just two weeks into conference play and the 5A-Central race is heating up. Sylvan Hills and Beebe are on opposite ends of those standings, but both feel good about where they stand as they head into their respective homecoming matchups this Friday.

The Bears (5-0, 2-0) host Mills University Studies while the Badger festivities take place before their matchup with the Parkview Patriots.

Sylvan Hills is 2-0 after wins over two of the three teams the league’s coaches picked to beat them in the preseason. The Bears were tapped to finish fourth in the Central this year, and already own wins over McClellan and Little Rock Christian Academy, who were picked second and third respectively behind Pulaski Academy.

For the second week in a row, Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow is worried about a trap game. After dominating McClellan as underdogs, Withrow was worried about a letdown against LRCA, and he feels like his team did suffer some symptoms of that in last Friday’s 42-35 victory.

“We put a lot of time and effort into that McClellan game, so there was going to be some letdown,” Withrow said. “Do I wish we would’ve played a little better last week and won by a little more? Sure. But we did what he had to doto get a win. Little Rock Christian played a good game and did everything they could do to take us out of our game plan. So I’m happy that pulled it out.”

This week not only carries the burden of homecoming distractions, but the Comets (2-3, 1-1) precede a showdown with Pulaski Academy.

“You do worry about overlooking somebody,” Withrow said. “It’s hard not to look ahead. It really is, even for coaches. But Mills has that option attack and that big old fullback, and they can do some damage. Their quarterback is a good one, too. Both of those guys are capable of making big plays and scoring at any time. Nobody has really shut them down this year.”

The Comets showed improvement each week, with the possible exception of last week’s 56-14 loss at McClellan. After starting the season with losses to Jacksonville and Hall by a combined three points, the Comets shut out Maumelle 13-0, and routed Parkview in their conference opener 48-13.

“Mills is a team that, if we take care of our business and do what we’re supposed to do, we should be ok,” Withrow said. “If we don’t, they’re capable of making you pay for it. They’re not a team you’re just going to roll out there and beat. We have to be ready.”


The 1-4, 0-2 Badgers are mired in a three-game losing streak, and are fresh off a 51-21 loss to top-ranked Pulaski Academy. The Patriots lost three in a row going into last week’s game, but got an easy 52-13 win over J.A. Fair on Friday.

“Parkview is a team with a lot athletes and they got a little bit of confidence coming in here,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “They have a good running back and a big offensive line. Their quarterback is adequate enough that he’ll hurt you if you’re not in the right spots and playing sound defense.”

The Patriots suffered a major setback when their head coach was fired just before the season began for an alleged sexual relationship with a student. Interim coach Kenny Stephens appears to have the team headed in the right direction, and Shannon worries it can build off last week’s momentum builder.

“Fact is, they have more athletes than we do,” Shannon said. “We’ve always felt like you have to stop the run to be a winning football team, and that kind of went out the window last week. PA had a kid run up about 180 yards on us. We’re still playing a whole bunch of sophomores over there and we have a lot of room for improvement. We’re going back this week and going over some fundamentals. If we play good fundamental defense, and hold onto the ball on offense, I feel like things should work out all right for us.”