Saturday, October 15, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies beat NHS

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team pulled off a mild upset Thursday, beating Fort Smith Northside 3-1 at NHS. The win doesn’t mean much for postseason placement. Cabot had the No. 6 seed locked up regardless of Thursday’s outcome, or the outcome of the conference finale Tuesday against North Little Rock. Where it is meaningful is that it gives the Lady Panthers some momentum as they head into the final week of the regular season and into the state tournament that begins Oct. 24.

“We have been really close several times but we hadn’t been able to beat any of the teams that are ahead of us in the standings,” said Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk. “Finally getting over that hump and beating one of those teams will hopefully add a lot to our confidence with the state tournament coming up.”

The fourth-place Lady Bears (14-12, 7-6) escaped Cabot on Sept. 20 in a match that went five games. On Thursday in Fort Smith, Cabot won the opening game 25-22, and then dominated in a 25-13 game-two victory. Northside fell behind in game three, but mounted a comeback and stole a 27-25 win, but the Lady Panthers regrouped for a 25-17 victory in game four to avoid the tiebreaker set.

“I think we lost focus just a little bit after winning game two so easily,” Chanthaphasouk said. “And even that game we lost was really close. Other than that, I was really pleased with how well we played together as a team. Maddie Brown had a great game swinging and defensively. Taylor Bell was very strong up front for us. Our serve percentage was pretty high. It was an overall good team effort.”

Brown led the team in kills with 21 and in digs with 18. Leah Gerald had 11 digs while Kaelee Simmons had nine.

Bell finished with 14 kills, Hannah Freeman had 24 assists and Simmons finished with a serve percentage of 100 as well as four aces.

The Lady Panthers (16-14, 5-8) will host two matches next week. On Monday Cabot faces Little Rock Home School, and on Tuesday, closes 7A-Central and regular-season play against North Little Rock.

SPORTS STORY >> Late score lifts Titans over Hall in thriller

Special to The Leader

The Jacksonville Titans came from behind in thrilling fashion Friday to earn a 32-28 homecoming victory over Little Rock Hall.

Both teams entered the game winless in the 6A-East and needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive.

Trailing 28-26 with 4:29 remaining, Jacksonville forced a punt, then drove 60 yards down the field before sputtering to fourth and 9 at the Hall 29-yard line.

On fourth and 9, quarterback Harderrious Martin threw to the back of the end zone, where Jonathan Hall made a diving catch to give the Titans the lead with only :42 on the clock.

“I’m excited for our kids,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “The guys played hard. I’m glad they had some success. They deserved to win. They never gave up, they just kept playing. Hall’s got some good football players.

We talked about the speed they’ve got, and it showed up tonight. I’m just glad for our kids, that we kept competing. The offensive line got better tonight. We ran the football really well. We found a play that would work for us, and we just kept doing it. The kids believed in it. When your kids are believing in what you’re doing, you can have success. Hopefully, we can grow up and get ready for next Friday. I’m proud of them for never giving up. I’m proud of our coaches for keeping our heads up on the sidelines. I’m proud of the seniors. I’m happy for those guys.”

Jacksonville had the ball first on its own 42-yard line. Martin ran for 29 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Then on the third play, it was Martin again for 33 yards and a touchdown. Darryl Kimble-Brooks added the extra point for the 7-0 early edge.

On Hall’s first play, a pass by quarterback Jaden McGraw was intercepted by Tamod Tyler, and the Titans were again in scoring position on the 30-yard line of the Warriors.

Shawn Ellis had runs of nine, eleven, and four yards to the 11-yard line, from which Martin found Myles Mason for a touchdown reception. The extra point was again good by Kimble-Brooks and the lead was 14-0 with 8:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

Hall answered right back with a 60-yard touchdown run by Caezar Warren. The two-point conversion attempt was not successful, but the lead was cut to 14-6 with 7:44 to go in the quarter.

Issac Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff to the Warrior 38-yard line, and again the Titans had good field position. Ellis ran for nine yards, Martin completed a pass for three yards to Jonathan Hall, then again hit Hall for a 26-yard touchdown pass.

This time the point after was no good, and the score was 20-6, with 6:29 still left in the first quarter.

Both defenses held for the next several possessions, but Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs on its own 28-yard line, and the Warriors took advantage, with 5:34 remaining in the half, to score a touchdown and cut the lead to 20-12. Neither team could get to the end zone before the intermission, so that remained the halftime score.

On its first possession of the second half, Jacksonville had moved the ball from its own 20-yard line to the 7-yard line of Hall before penalties moved them backwards. Then on first and goal from the 23-yard line, a fumble occurred and the Warriors recovered.

It was Warren again with a 52-yard run that cut the lead to 20-18. The successful two-point conversion tied the score at 20-20 with 2:04 remaining in the third.

Hall gained the lead on yet another touchdown run by Warren, this time of 48 yards. The two-point conversion was good, also by Warren for the 28-20 advantage with 7:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jacksonville responded with a 56-yard, eight-play drive on runs by Ellis and Martin to score with 4:29 left in the game. It was Ellis that took the ball in from 6 yards out for the touchdown. The two-point try to tie was no good, leaving the score 28-26.

Jacksonville had 451 total yards of offense, while Hall had 377.

Ellis had 210 yards rushing and one touchdown for the Titans, while Martin rushed for 90 yards, rushed for one touchdown and passed for three.

Jacksonville will host West Memphis on Friday night.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills helps out Bruins

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills defense held the vaunted Pulaski Academy offense to as little output as any team in recent memory, but four turnovers and a devastating loss of composure kept the Bears from pulling off the victory. Pulaski Academy scored two touchdowns in an 88-second span late in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 35-23 win over the Bears on Friday in Little Rock.

Sylvan Hills trailed 14-10 at halftime, but scored quickly and had all the momentum until receiver Jamar Lane couldn’t control himself in an altercation at midfield.

Sylvan Hills needed just two plays and 52 seconds to take the lead at the start of the third quarter. One play after covering the onside kick to start the half, quarterback Jordan Washington kept on the zone read and went 40 yards up the middle to give Sylvan Hills a 17-10 lead.

The Bears then stopped PA when safety Eric Waddell intercepted a Layne Hatcher pass that bounced off receiver Brett Lynch.

Sylvan Hills took over on its own 34, and faced third and 7 when a pass to Lane fell incomplete. A Bruin defender shoved Lane after the play, and drew a flag that would have given the Bears a first down. But Lane ran around a teammate who had stepped between the two and shoved the PA player back. That drew another flag that made the penalties offsetting and gave the Bears fourth down.

On the next play, the punt snap sailed over Ryan Lumpkin’s head and resulted in PA falling on the ball at the Sylvan Hills 4-yard line.

One player later, tailback Jaren Watkins scored to give the Bruins a 21-17 lead with 8:05 to go in the fourth quarter.

“When we went and scored on them and took the lead, I thought we were about to run away with this thing,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “Then when we got the stop and they got that penalty, it looked like we had them on the ropes. I get why the retaliation. The guy kind of shoved him in the face and it makes you mad. But you got to leave it alone. If he walks away from that, it’s first down and we’re moving again about to go up two scores. Instead we get the punt snap and now they’re ahead again.”

Neither offense could get anything going again until late in the fourth quarter.

PA converted a fourth and 14 when Layne found Lynch 28 yards downfield to the Bear 15-yard line. Four plays later on first and goal from the 3, Layne and Lynch hooked up again, this time on a bootleg right with 6:55 left in the game. The extra point made it 28-17.

On the ensuing possession, Sylvan Hills faced third and 6 when defensive end Will Hart blocked a Washington pass behind the line of scrimmage, and came down with the ball. He had nothing between himself and the goal line, and raced 50 yards for the score and a 35-17 PA lead with 5:28 to go.

Sylvan Hills had enough left to make it interesting. The Bears scored in three plays when Washington found Lane from 30 yards out with 4:24 to go, and then covered an onside kick on their own 45.

Washington hit Lumpkin for 12 yards on third and 10, then found Lane for 17 more yards to the 26. A short pass to Youngblood turned into first and goal at the 8, but the comeback ended there.

PA’s Dylan Nosler picked off a Washington pass at the goal line. The Bruins needed just one first down, and got it before taking a knee to run out the clock.

The first half saw PA score quickly before also turning into a defensive struggle.

The Bruins got the ball first and after a quick false-start penalty, needed just three plays to 77 yards and a touchdown. The key play was a 50-yard pass from quarterback Luke Hatcher to receiver Ray Jackson just 62 seconds into the game.

PA converted a two-point play as well to take a quick 8-0 lead.

The Bears defense dominated for most of the rest of the half, but the offense couldn’t get into a rhythm.

The Bears did manage an 11-play drive after covering the Bruins’ onside kick at midfield. But the drive stalled on fourth and 4 when Washington could only get 3 yards to the PA 18.

The Bruins went backwards on their next drive, starting with a sack on first down by Bear defender Kaleb Hughes. Two more plays gained 12 yards to set up fourth and 4 at the 24-yard line. PA went for it and failed, throwing incomplete under pressure from the Bear defense.

But Sylvan Hills couldn’t capitalize. On third and 4, Andre Collins went in at tailback and fumbled after breaking a pair of tackles and PA took over on its own 16.

Hughes got another sack on first down, and Ty Compton sacked Hatcher on second down to set up third and 19 from the 7-yard line. An incomplete pass made it fourth and 19, and PA went for it again. This time even more pressure from Compton forced Hatcher to heave the ball to midfield where Anthony Duncan knocked the ball down and the Bears took over on the Bruin 7.

Once again the offense sputtered, losing 5 yards before sophomore place kicker Tito Mendoza put the Bears on the board with a 29-yard field goal with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

PA drove from its own 30 to the Sylvan Hills 9, but failed to convert on fourth and 3, and Sylvan Hills took over.

The Bears went three and out and punted, putting the Bruins on their own 29.

On third and 10, Davien Farr got to Hatcher for a 19-yard loss, setting up fourth and 29 from the 10-yard line.

Again PA went for it. This time Duncan cost his team 10 yards by intercepting the ball at the 20 and returning it 10 yards to the 20. That’s where the offense took over,

Washington gained 8 yards on first down, but the yardage was lost and then some for a personal foul after the play.

Two more plays left the Bears with fourth down and 7 from the 17. That’s when Washington hit Jamar Lane on a fade route to the back left corner of the end zone.

Mendoza’s extra point gave the Bears a 10-8 lead with 4:53 left in the half.

PA didn’t sputter at all on the ensuing drive, taking just 35 seconds to run three plays for 80 yards and a touchdown.

Again it was Jackson who made the final play, a 44-yard reception from Hatcher. The Bruins failed to convert for two, leaving the score 14-10 going into halftime.

“I was so proud of our defense,” Withrow said. “They all played extremely well. We just did not play well on offense. Had some personnel issues, and that’s ultimately my fault. So I’ll take the blame for that.”

Both teams were held to their lowest yardage output of the season. PA (6-1, 3-0) managed just 281 total yards while the Bears (6-1, 2-1) gained 260.

The Bruins will host Parkview next Friday. The Patriots (2-5, 1-2) lost 51-7 to LR Christian on Friday.

Friday, October 14, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Reading FBI’s crime statistics

The recent crimes statistics compiled by the FBI had some encouraging news.

The good news: There were only two homicides listed in the paper’s coverage area for 2015. One in Jacksonville and one in Lonoke.

Austin, followed by Cabot, were the safest places in 2015 in The Leader’s coverage area. Jacksonville was the most dangerous, but still safer than Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Austin, population 2,785, reported only eight violent crimes, along with 51 property crimes, giving it a rate of 17 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Cabot, population 25,434, with 47 violent crimes and 520 property crimes, had rate of 33 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Jacksonville, with 28,902 residents, recorded 218 violent crimes last year and 1,395 property crimes for a rate of 56 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Violent crimes include murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Sherwood, with a population of 30,572, had 140 violent crimes reported (113 of those were aggravated assaults) and 1,181 property crimes for an average of 43 offenses per 1,000 residents.

Beebe, population 8,138, had 27 violent crimes (23 of them were aggravated assaults) and 242 property crimes for a rate of 33 crimes per 1,000 residents.

Ward, with a population of 4,747, had 44 violent crimes and 109 property crimes, which worked out to 32 crimes per 1,000.

Lonoke, with 4,265 residents, had 13 violent crimes (including one homicide) in 2015 and had 126 property crimes for an average of 33 crimes per 1,000.

Carlisle, population 2,198, had seven violent crimes (five of them aggravated assaults) and 61 property crimes for a rate of 31 crimes per thousand. It’s a mixed bag, but it could be worse.

EDITORIAL >> North Metro limps forward

Financial and administrative problems continue to hamstring North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Tax bills have piled up and Medicare reimbursements have been slashed due to high infection rates. Last year, the hospital lost about $3.5 million, placing it among the least profitable medical centers in Arkansas.

CEO Mike Randall will tell his side of the issue Wednesday.

Since the city sold the former municipal hospital to Allegiance Health Management of Shreveport, La., the hospital’s problems seem to have only gotten worse.

They’ve invested little in the facility, scared away most medical professionals from joining its team and had a stream of criticism from its top administrators and employees.

It takes a lot of money, talent and generous benefactors to run a hospital. To get there, Allegiance Health Management needs to make a public-outreach effort to show Jacksonville-area residents that it cares deeply for the community and acknowledge North Metro’s shortcomings, while presenting a plan for the future.

A few unimpressive TV commercials is not enough to address concerns about the hospital’s viability, patient-care quality and a host of financial red flags.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and city leaders should host a town-hall meeting with Rock Bordelon and Dom Cameron, the two Allegiance Health executives who own the hospital, and North Metro administrators. The community should have a chance to ask some questions, meet the people in charge of the hospital and be reassured that there is a long-term plan for its future.

It’s worrying that Allegiance could bail out on the community if its financial problems become too big. It won’t be able to stagger on forever.

TOP STORY >> Early voting starts Oct. 24

Early voting will be held Oct. 24 to Nov. 7 at the Lonoke Community Center 1344 W. Front St., and at the Cabot old projects building, 802 N. Second St., across from Harp’s grocery store.

It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Early voting will be held for a week in Ward at the chamber of commerce building, 80 W. Second St.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 through Friday, Oct. 28 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Early voting will also be held Monday Oct. 24 and through Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Jacksonville Community Center, 5 Municipal Drive and at the Sherwood Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive.

Hours at both locations are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Pulaski County residents can also vote early at the Pulaski County Regional Building, 501 Markham St. in Little Rock from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays Monday, Oct. 24 through Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. On Monday, Nov. 7, voting there will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Offsite early voting will run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays from Oct. 24 through Nov. 4 and 10 am. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Early voting will be held in Searcy in the White County Courthouse lobby and at the Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm St.

The locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4.

They will open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 5. They will be open on Monday, Nov. 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

TOP STORY >> Water property dispute in court

Leader staff writer

An ongoing water property dispute between Sherwood and Jacksonville is now in circuit court as Jacksonville appeals a ruling in Sherwood’s favor.

The Arkansas Natural Resource Commission approved in July a petition filed by Sherwood to reallocate 2,365 acres from Jacksonville’s Water Service Territory to Sherwood for authority to provide both water and sewer service to residents and businesses in the affected area.

But Jacksonville, which has the water rights to the area has said it is willing to provide water service to the area as long as the residents and businesses annex or come into the city. Without annexation, according to findings by the ANRC, Jacksonville would not provide services.

The area is mostly undeveloped land on the north side of General Samuels and up Hwy. 107 and is within Sherwood city limits.

J. Randy Young, the executive director for the ANRC, in issuing the commission’s final decision earlier this year, said, “Given that Jacksonville affirmatively states that it will not provide sewer service to residents outside of Jacksonville, orderly development and management compels the commission to assign the sewer (and water) service to an entity (Sherwood) that will provide service. Jacksonville, in its appeal, claims no resident or owner of any property in the disputed area has requested Sherwood service. The city said Sherwood only went after the property after receiving an inquiry more than two years ago from a potential buyer involving only about 28 acres of the property.”

Even though the acreage in question is in Jacksonville water service territory, it is now within the city limits of Sherwood.

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Young said water territory is different than city limits.

“The ANRC is concerned about everyone having access to water, not what city the property is in, and Jacksonville has refused multiple times to provide water unless the land owners annex into Jacksonville,” the mayor said.

“Why should these people go to Jacksonville, we had a ballot vote, and they chose Sherwood over Jacksonville,” Young said. “We are very willing to service the area.”

The mayor added that the water rates in Jacksonville are higher than the rates in Sherwood.

Jacksonville said that when the ANRC ruled for Sherwood that the hearing officer acknowledged that he had no information about the infrastructure (“pipes in the ground’) that services residences in the area and that Jacksonville’s infrastructure in the disputed area includes a three-million gallon tank and supporting infrastructure, “for which millions of dollars in federal debt obligations remain.”

Jacksonville continued with its concerns, also stating in the complaint that the hearing officer did not consider the impact of the Air Installation Compatibility Use Zone (AICUZ), “which provides exclusive jurisdiction to Jacksonville for the protection of the federal military installation at Little Rock Air Force Base.”

The city also said that transferring control of the land to Sherwood “creates an enclave” which is discouraged by state laws.

Jacksonville believes that the ANRC decision was “in excess of and an abuse of discretion of the agency’s authority and power.”

The ANRC, in its final determination and decision said, based on “findings of fact and conclusions of law,” that in 2009 the commission did approve a larger area of acreage, which included the disputed area “as being in Jacksonville’s service area for water, but was not being serviced by ether city.

TOP STORY >> Assault on free speech

Leader executive editor

Donald Trump has been threatening to sue The New York Times for printing allegations that he groped several women going back 30 years.

Trump told a rally in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday the charges are “total fabrications” and then threatened to put The Times out of business.

Trump’s lawyer fired off a letter after the article appeared online, saying it was “libel per se.”

The newspaper stood by its report, saying Trump didn’t have much reputation left to defend. “You ask that we ‘remove it from (our) website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.’ Wedecline to do so,” The Times’ attorney, David E. McCraw, wrote back.

The response by McCraw is an instant classic defending a newspaper’s First Amendment right to print the truth as we see it. The letter will be taught in journalism classes as long as there is a free press in this country.

“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation,” McCraw wrote. “Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms….Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”

It’s unlikely Trump will sue because he has no chance of winning. A discovery process before the case goes to court would bring out more sordid charges against Trump.

Will he also sue People magazine, whose reporter this week said he assaulted her a decade ago during an interview in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach?

Will Trump sue the Palm Beach Post because it ran an article this week about a woman who said she was also groped during a photo shoot at the mansion 13 years ago?

Melania Trump has threatened to sue the People reporter, insisting she had never met the writer.

Will the Trumps sue every publication, TV station and online site that reported a series of other allegations, including beauty pageant contestants who confirmed Trump’s boast on the “Access Hollywood” audio that he barged in on naked women in dressing rooms at the pageants he once owned?

Will he sue “The Apprentice” contestant who said Friday he assaulted her in a hotel room?

Even if Trump could show he’s completely innocent — which is unlikely as more women come forward every day — he’d have to convince a court that The New York Times and other media fabricated the story with “malicious aforethought,” an impossibly high hurdle for public figures to prove.

That’s because in a landmark libel case in 1964, “The New York Times vs. Sullivan,” the Supreme Court rejected a claim by an Alabama state police commissioner that The Times had libeled him for printing an advertisement placed by civil rights advocates that included trivial mistakes, such as the number of times protesters were arrested and what songs they sang at the protests.

The suit was preposterous — Sullivan was never mentioned in the ad — but the high court ruling strengthened the First Amendment and the right to a free press. Another decision three years later set a high threshold for libel not only for public officials but also for public figures like Trump if they wanted to sue.

As we know from personal experience at The Leader, anybody can sue, but you cannot win a libel case against a newspaper for printing the truth. A couple of officials tried, but they didn’t get very far:

One Cabot court clerk sued The Leader for reporting that auditors found cash missing from her office. She dropped her lawsuit after she confessed she had stolen the money and made a plea bargain to return the money. We paid a modest fee to our lawyer, who defended us almost pro bono — a small price to pay to protect freedom of the press.

A federal prosecutor a few years later threatened to sue us after we wrote about his unsavory relationship with a former Lonoke police chief. The prosecutor’s threat backfired: He was quickly demoted, took early retirement and never filed suit.

Trump is notorious for filing lawsuits against anybody who criticizes him, including an author who said Trump was exaggerating his wealth, as well as a beauty pageant contestant who made fun of him on Facebook.

But states have passed laws in recent years protecting victims of frivolous lawsuits by billionaires who want to bankrupt their antagonists. These laws were passed to discourage so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation,” or SLAPP. A federal judge in California recently ordered Trump University to pay a former student $798,000 in court costs under the state’s anti-SLAPP law.

Trump told a Florida rally this week to remember to vote Nov. 28. He had his dates mixed up. The election is Nov. 8. Trump University’s fraud trial starts Nov. 28.


Leader staff writer

An exhibit of presidential campaign memorabilia from the Cabot Public Schools’ Museum of American History collection is on display at the Cabot High School media center at 114 S. First St.

The items shown are a portion of the museum’s collection. It is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday and by appointment. Admission is free.

Buttons, flyers, shirts, posters and other campaign items are on display. The museum chose not to display any items from the 2016 presidential election.

The display at the high school was completed by museum interns Jordan Holyfield, a junior, and Gavin Iler, a senior.

Visitors can reflect on the presidential elections of the past, successful candidates and also-rans.

The exhibit runs through the end of the year. It has a multimedia feature showing campaign ads from years ago.

“Campaigns used lots of propaganda. They have gotten more expensive and weirder,” Holyfield said.

Her favorite pieces are the campaign plates and torch lights used to show support during parades. “I think the old ballots are cool,” Iler said.

“People don’t produce many campaign items. They are putting money into TV and the internet. There is less memorabilia and our new collections will get smaller in the upcoming years,” museum director Mike Polston said.

Iler said he enjoys the museum class. Holyfield appreciates history and how it impacts current affairs.

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.”

SPORTS STORY >> U of A stays in the Top-25

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE – Despite the Arkansas Razorbacks wallowing 0-2 in the SEC West, voters in the Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls kept perspective on Arkansas because of who beat Arkansas.

The Razorbacks, 4-2 overall, identically dropped five spots in both polls but stayed Top 25, falling from 17th to 22nd.

No. 1 reigning national and SEC champion Alabama beat Arkansas 49-30 last Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

On Sept. 24 since they advanced to No. 6 in both polls Texas A&M beat the Razorbacks, 45-24 at the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

These next two Saturdays bring Arkansas two more ranked SEC West opponents.

The Ole Miss Rebels, 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the SEC ranking 12th in AP and 13th in the Coaches poll, come to Reynolds RazorbackStadium for Saturday’s 6 p.m. on ESPN.

The Auburn Tigers, 4-2, 2-0 in the SEC West off winning last Saturday at SEC West rival Mississippi State, now rank No. 23 in the AP and is the leader among vote-getters just short of the Coaches’ Top 25. At its Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., Auburn on Oct. 22 hosts Arkansas at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

The Arkansas vs. Auburn kickoff time and TV coverage was announced Monday. Like Ole Miss this Saturday, Auburn will enter its Arkansas game after an open date.

Arkansas’ open date Saturday is Oct. 29 prior to the Razorbacks hosting Florida Nov. 5 in Fayetteville. Florida of the SEC East ranks 14th and 18th in Monday’s Coaches and AP polls.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said Monday he was “too quick” presuming last Saturday night that sophomore weakside linebacker Dre Greenlaw’s season ended breaking a bone in his foot on the second series against Alabama.

Greenlaw did undergo surgery Monday, Bielema said, but the coach said he’s been told Greenlaw possibly could return in four to six weeks.

Though each missed some alignments, freshman De’Jon “Scoota” Harris made four tackles and forced a fumble, and junior Dwayne Eugene logged an interception and made three tackles, splitting weakside linebacking time against Alabama after Greenlaw’s exit.

“I thought both De’Jon Harris and Dwayne Eugene did an admirable job when they got in there,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Robb Smith said Monday. “ “We are going to look at ways to put them in some better positions this week when they get in the football game. I think both those guys have worked really hard and earned this opportunity. We will kind of see how things shake out this week but I am excited to see these guys progress through this week of practices and see them in action on Saturday.”

Which one starts in Greenlaw’s place?

“I think we are going to take it one day at a time,” Smith said. “Both those guys are going to prepare as if they are starters and whoever performs the best will emerge there. I think both of those guys are very, very capable. I am excited to work with them this week and excited to see what they do.”

From the first day that Harris practiced in preseason, Bielema projected big things in Harris’ future but said Eugene’s junior experience put him ahead last Saturday.

Because Greenlaw’s injury depletes depth, junior Khalia Hackett, a backup at the season’s outset demoted to scout team, practices with the varsity this week.

And because Scoota Harris, to concentrate on weakside linebacker, will cease also practicing as the reserve middle linebacker behind senior Brooks Ellis,
senior Josh Williams and sophomore Josh Harris of Watson Chapel, will alternate at second-team middle linebacker, Bielema and Smith said.

Josh Harris has been a demon on special teams making seven tackles in five games.

Hackett’s career has been marked by ups and downs, but his ups have had him practicing first team at times.

“I actually just had a conversation with Hack,” Bielema said. “We wanted him to take a step in maturity. He’s pretty much been out of the game plan the last three or four weeks, and he expressed to me he needed to do it and he’s shown signs of that the last two weeks down on scout team and his details in the classroom as well. That’s why I’m rewarding him with an opportunity.”

Despite officially taking a six sacks beating from Alabama and unofficially far worse considering how often he was hit right after delivering most of 48 passes that included 25 completions for 400 yards, junior quarterback Austin Allen announced himself ready to go Sunday, Bielema said Monday.

I walked into the QB room Sunday afternoon and I just said ‘How you doing my friend?,” Bielema said. “And he says ‘I feel great.’ What he put on film gains great respect from our players and coaches. When you’ve got No. 8 (Allens number) playing quarterback back there for you, you better play until that whistle blows. Don’t give up on a route, don’t give up on a block, don’t stop protecting, because he’s going to keep it alive.”

Offensive coordinator Dan Enos lauded Allen trying to take out a tackler on his 18-yard run.

“Man, that’s awesome, watching him do that!” Enos said. “Third-and-20, he makes that 18-yard run. Lowers his shoulder … I mean, what a competitor. Tough guy. I’m really, really proud of the way he competed.”

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers must play better

Leader sports editor

Cabot football coach Mike Malham knew the disparity between his team’s 5-0 record and Conway’s 0-5 record was misleading, but even he was surprised with how poorly his team played in a 37-14 drubbing last Friday at the hands of the Wampus Cats.

“We got beat, and we got beat up,” said Malham on Monday. “We’re licking our wounds, but we have to be ready to go on Friday.”

This Friday is when the Panthers host Little Rock Central for its annual homecoming festivities, and they could do it without as many as four starters, including quarterback Jarrod Barnes.

Barnes injured his ankle while returning the opening kickoff of the second half, and did not return. Starting linebacker Dylan Smith also suffered an ankle injury and starting defensive lineman Easton Seidl strained a knee.

“We’re hobbling, but right now it’s day to day on whether anybody is going to miss Friday’s game,” Malham said.
What’s not uncertain is that his team will have to play better than it did last week in order to have a chance to win.

“Defensively we didn’t play very good,” Malham said. “Offensively, we gave them two scores. Early on it looked like we were going to do all right, but then just started making mistakes.”

The first big mistake came late in the second quarter. Conway had the ball near midfield facing fourth and 2 with Cabot leading 14-7. The Panther defense jumped off sides, giving Conway a first down, which led to a game-tying score before halftime.

In the second half, two high snaps out of the shotgun formation led to nine defensive points for the Wampus Cats. Conway also converted a third and 25 that proved pivotal in the third quarter.

“Third and long, and we’re going to let them beat us on an out and up,” Malham said. “We’re going to bite on an out on third and 25. It was just stupid stuff like that.”

Cabot’s defense had been nothing short of dominant since the opening game, but Conway cut through it last week. The offense, without Barnes at quarterback, managed less than 50 yards of offense in the second half.

“Conway had good athletes,” Malham said. “They were just living on the wrong side of close games and we were living on the right side. I don’t know if our kids just didn’t take them seriously, didn’t work hard or what? I just know they definitely didn’t have it. They weren’t ready to play. They’ll get beat again this week if they don’t do any better because Central has good athletes, too.

“I hope the reason they beat us that bad is that we weren’t ready to play. I hope we’re better than we showed. It’s going to be a long second half of the year if we keep playing like we did.”

TOP STORY >> Art of deal fading fast for Trump

Special executive editor

“My father would be so embarrassed.”

— Michael Reagan on Donald Trump’s campaign

If the polls continue to show a widening lead for Hillary Clinton — she’s now 14 percent ahead — there will be no art of the deal for Donald Trump this November.

His second TV debate was even more jarring than the first. He seems more eager to hold on to his 35 percent base of support and run like a third party candidate who’s gone off the rails. Sure, 35 percent will win you the nomination against 16 other Republicans, but if a candidate can’t rise much above that in October, all signs point to an Electoral College blowout.

His support among women, independents as well as Republicans keeps dropping as more tawdry revelations raise doubts about Trump’s character.

Every day, dozens more prominent Republicans withdraw their support in the final stretch. House Speaker Paul Ryan made the sensible decision when he announced Monday he will distance himself from Trump and concentrate on preserving the GOP majority in the House. More likely, Republicans will lose control of the Senate as Trump drags down GOP senators in swing states.

Perhaps for the first time ever in a presidential election, Trump threatened Sunday to jail Hillary Clinton if he’s elected. His stalking her onstage horrified most women voters.

There’s fear inside his campaign that more damaging tapes will be released any day now. Last week’s release of the sordid recordings from a celebrity TV show ended his hopes of winning the presidency. His campaign had been in trouble for weeks — the release of his income tax returns from 1995 (almost certainly by his second wife, or someone close to her) claiming almost $1 billion in losses and the likelihood that he hasn’t been paying income taxes in 20 years — threatened to derail his campaign.

But his bragging about sexually assaulting women shocked many more supporters, even though his base is sticking with him.

Contrast Trump’s stonewalling on his taxes with Warren Buffett, whom he accused of taking the same kinds of deductions that Trump claimed after those huge losses. Not so, said the sage of Omaha just hours after the debate.

“My 2015 return shows adjusted gross income of $11,563,931,” said Buffett, who is also being audited by the IRS, like Trump, but that didn’t keep him from disclosing his taxes.

Buffett gives most of his money to charity and the government, which is a lot more than Trump ever did.

“My deductions totaled $5,477,694, of which allowable charitable contributions were $3,469,179. All but $36,037 of the remainder was for state income taxes.

“The total charitable contributions I made during the year were $2,858,057,970, of which more than $2.85 billion were not taken as deductions and never will be. Tax law properly limits charitable deductions.

“My federal income tax for the year was $1,845,557. Returns for previous years are of a similar nature in respect to contributions, deductions and tax rates,” Buffett said.

Obviously the wrong billionaire is running for president.

The latest polls show Trump has lost 12 percent support among Republicans (13 percent of GOP women) after tapes were aired over the weekend, which may not sound like a lot, but he was about just 5 percent behind Clinton before the tapes were released. That 12 percent loss translates to about 5 percent of total votes, meaning Hillary is more than 10 percent ahead.

Republicans are jumping ship and concentrating on downballot elections and looking to 2020, which is why Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) campaigned in Iowa last week.

The campaign had been in trouble since the GOP convention, when prominent Republican officials, including both President Bushes, boycotted Trump’s coronation.

Trump had a chance to quit the race in August, when revelations about his ties to the Kremlin and refusal to release his tax returns called into question his qualifications. Dozens of former national security officials said he was unfit to serve.

They pointed to several Trump aides on Vladimir Putin’s payroll. The Russian dictator arrests his political rivals every day. No surprise that Trump told Clinton he’ll put her in jail if he becomes president.

Putin wants Trump in the White House and keeps releasing Clinton’s hacked emails and speeches. Trump cheered Putin on during Sunday’s debate, saying he supports the Russians going to war on behalf of Syrian dictator Assad.

Trump, acting as a Kremlin mole, repeats Russian propaganda about Syria, Libya and Ukraine. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday, he read a fake email created by Russian agents who distorted the words of an American journalist and attributed them to Sidney Blumenthal. Even Drudge wouldn’t fall for that kind of deception.

Abandoned by party leaders, Trump’s campaign has no money for advertising. The self-described billionaire should have poured at least $200 million into his campaign if he had any chance of success, but he doesn’t have that kind of money or wants to hold on to it knowing he can’t win.

The worst presidential nominee in history will bring down the Republican Party along with Fox News, which promoted him as a presidential candidate for at least a decade.

The Trump signs have started to come down in many areas around the country. The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, which Trump opened in 1990 after borrowing $650 million, closed Monday. It was the first of his six bankruptcies. His name had come off the building after he sold the casino to investor Carl Icahn, who said he lost $350 million in just the last few years.

Some successful businessman. It’s a stunning story of deluded self-invention and hubris, crashing down in flames and damaging our democracy perhaps for years to come. It’s too early to calculate the fallout for Republicans and to our Republic, but it’s bound to be significant.

From this week’s editorial in Christianity Today, founded by Billy Graham: “Enthusiasm for a candidate like Trump gives our neighbors ample reason to doubt that we believe Jesus is Lord. They see that some of us are so self-interested, and so self-protective, that we will ally ourselves with someone who violates all that is sacred to us.”

To quote Sen. Ted Cruz, who narrowly lost the Republican primary in Arkansas to Trump, “Vote you’re conscience.”

TOP STORY >> Two run for Dist. 38 House seat

Special to The Leader

Victoria “Tori” Leigh and Carlton Wing, both of North Little Rock, are vying for the Dist. 38 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which includes North Little Rock and much of Sherwood.

The seat will be vacated by Rep. Donnie Copeland, who will have served for only one term. He ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary against Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock).

Leigh, a Democrat, is a 29-year-old attorney with a practice in central Arkansas that specializes in domestic relations, real estate, criminal defense and consumer protection defense. Leigh is a 2005 graduate of Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock and earned a bachelor’s of science degree in communication studies and public speaking at Ball State University in Indiana. She then attended the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University.

Leigh lives in North Little Rock with her husband, Joey, and her two daughters, Lillian and Katherine.

Leigh said she decided to run because she knew the seat was open, winnable and that the current representative, Copeland, did not represent her interest or the interests of anyone she knew.

Leigh says she is qualified for this position because of her extensive legal background. She owns her own practice, is a certified mediator, was a member of several boards in law school and served on the fair housing commission.

“The public should demand a representative that is actually a representative of your people. I worry about the same things that everyone else is worried about,” Leigh said.

She described herself as “a progressive wife and mother” with the same priorities as the community around her: Her family and her small business.

Education is one of the main issues that Leigh is concerned about and she plans to advocate for an all-around strengthened curriculum and push for universal pre-K.

Leigh said, “Quality pre-Kis an investment for Arkansas that leverages the key brain development in children at that age, puts them on the right track to succeed in school, is a proven effective crime prevention tool, and which has an almost immeasurable financial return for our economy in direct and indirect fashions.”

“Investing money now saves us money down the road in other social and criminal justice programs, prisons, creates jobs and improves quality of life,” Leigh added.

She said that long-term success for Arkansas depends on education, and that a skilled workforce attracts businesses.

Leigh also wants to focus on issues like senior hunger and disagrees with the recent $1 million cut from the budget for state senior citizen centers and Meals on Wheels. She said that senior care is “hugely important to the community” and that Hays Senior Center in North Little Rock is the most visited senior center in the state.

“The endorsements I’m most proud of are those of the people in my district,” Leigh said. “I’m very proud of where I’m from, and I’ll work to improve the lives of each of us and do everything I can to reach the potential of our state and our district.”

Republican Wing, 49, is a former sportscaster and television host and now owns his own business, Wing Media Group, which produces outdoor-related television programs.

Wing grew up in North Little Rock and is a 1985 graduate of Northeast High School in North Little Rock. He earned his undergraduate degree in broadcast communications at Brigham Young University in Utah, followed by a master’s in business administration at Harding University in Searcy.

Wing lives in North Little Rock with his wife Leigh. They have four children — two daughters, who have graduated from North Little Rock High School, and two sons, one a sophomore at North Little Rock High School and the other a student at Crestwood Elementary.

“The short answer, it’s an opportunity to leverage good,” Wing said when asked why he was running for state representative. He said that he’s always been interested in public service, but now the timing is finally right.

“The true reason is wrapped up in our slogan, ‘Let’s Work Together,’” Wing said.

Wing said, “A lot of people have become disenchanted with the tone of current politics,” both locally and nationally, and he wants to change that.

As far as specific legislation goes, Wing only listed his support of pre-K as an option and not a requirement for all schools.

“There’s a big difference between offering and mandating. (Pre-K is a) wonderful option, but it should be an option, not a mandate,” Wing said.

Wing’s main platform is bringing people together on a variety of issues. “Get the people talking again,” he said.

According to Wing, he is endorsed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Gov. Tim Griffin, as well as the North Little Rock police and fire departments.

Wing said it “means a lot to be trusted by the people that protect and maintain the society that we have — a society that allows people to do what they want in life: to grow and learn and thrive.”

“I’ve gotten to experience that in my life and I want everyone to have that same opportunity,” Wing said.

Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 24.

TOP STORY >> Phony police patrol

Leader staff writer

Last week, two women reported two separate incidents to the Jacksonville Police Department involving a man dressed as or impersonating a police officer.

Both victims were followed from the Sherwood area into Jacksonville, according to an Monday department press release.

Then, this past weekend, a Sherwood woman reported a similar incident.

None of the three women reported an assault.

While driving her vehicle on Hwy. 107 near Base Meadows subdivision at 11:30 p.m., Kristina Wright of Sherwood told Sherwood Police Officer Robert Nance that the white car that was following her turned on “a blue light.”

She reported that she pulled over but was suspicious and when the man directed her to exit her car, Wright said she refused.

The suspect claimed to be a Sherwood police officer and again demanded she exit the car; instead, she put her car in gear and drove away.

She described the suspect’s car as white with no markings on the outside.

Sgt. Jason Hopkins, over the Sherwood Police Department’s Professional Standards Office, said although there are some reported differences, Sherwood detectives are talking to the Jacksonville Police Department about similarities in the three cases.

The Jacksonville Police Department reports their suspect is reported to be a white male with short brown hair and driving a silver or gray pickup truck.

The Sherwood suspect was reported “as having tan skin, possibly a Hispanic or light-skinned African-American” and driving a car.

As of 3 p.m. yesterday, the Jacksonville Police Department had not responded to inquiries about the date, time and location of the two incidents that occurred within the Jacksonville city limits or whether the department considered the suspect a potential sexual predator.

Hopkins said, “We don’t generally pull people over in unmarked cars,” but if for some reason an unmarked car is used, he said there would be no question whether it was a police vehicle or not.

“There are flashing lights across the dash and it’s so bright that you can tell it’s police,” he said.

Most often, if an unmarked car is used, it’s accompanied by a marked car, he said.

Hopkins said any driver who isn’t sure if it’s a law enforcement vehicle or not should drive until reaching a well-lighted, well-populated area before pulling over.

Also, if the driver has a cell phone, call 911. The dispatch operator can find out whether it’s an official police stop or not, Hopkins said.

The Jacksonville Police Department stated in its press release, “Any female who believes they are being followed, or where an unknown male subject has approached their residence, should report it to their local law enforcement agency.”