Tuesday, October 11, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe against a wall at Lions

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers have a little bit of momentum going into an important matchup on the road Friday at McClellan High School in Little Rock. The 2-4 Badgers just got their first conference win last week, a 40-13 victory over Parkview, and now face the Lions in a game with major playoff implications.

Beebe has already lost to Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Christian, and still has unbeaten Sylvan Hills left on its schedule, meaning this week’s game is almost a must-win for Beebe’s playoff hopes.

“It’s a big one if we want a chance to go to the playoffs,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “Little Rock Christian is the game I felt like we could’ve played better than we did. But we’ve backed ourselves into a corner and we have to come out fighting.”

McClellan (3-2, 2-1) returns 17 starters from last year’s state runner up team that beat Beebe14-13, but those players who aren’t back were a big key to the Lions’ success.

“They graduated most of their offensive line, so hopefully that will help us out,” Shannon said.

Pierre Strong, however, is back. Strong is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound running back with 4.5 second speed in the 40-yard dash. Beebe did a pretty good job of keeping Strong in check last season, but the Badgers also lost a lot from that team.

“You have to play solid defense to have a chance to stop him,” Shannon said. “You have to be in the right spot and you have to tackle well. He makes it hard. He’s probably the best back in our conference, so it’s not going to be easy by any means. Hopefully we can repeat the success we had against them, defensively, last year.”

Beebe is a team that likes a physical style of play, and frequently has the advantage in that category. That may not be the case this week, even the Lions like to line up in the Spread offense.

“They are a very good, physical football team,” Shannon said. “That kind of is what we try to have an advantage on people with, but we don’t have that advantage against this team. Then you throw in their athleticism and it makes it even harder for us. They have the ability to run around blocks and still make plays, so we’re going to have to be at our very best.”

The Badgers held McClellan to fewer points and yards than any of its opponents last season while the offense sputtered through a spate of injuries.

“I felt like we were having some success last year against them,” Shannon said. “Defense played well the whole game. Offensively we moved right down the field on them our first two drives, and then got our quarterback hurt. Eventually we had to go to our third string, and even ended up with our fourth string quarterback out there

“So hopefully we have a good game plan for stopping and we can keep our momentum with our offense going. Like I said, we’ve got to take care of business this week or we’re really up against it the rest of the way.”