Friday, June 02, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers compete in first team camp

Leader sports editor

The Beebe football team got its summer practice competition underway Wednesday with a trip to a team camp at Searcy High School. Searcy, Beebe, Rose Bud and Southside-Batesville were the four teams on hand.

The format started with each team’s defense facing rapid-fire plays from the other three teams’ rotating offenses. After a break, each team faced the other three in a 20-minute scrimmage.

Beebe coach John Shannon didn’t like how his team started the day, but thought it recovered and then finished well.

“You could tell we’d been off a little while,” said Shannon. “We had spring ball two weeks ago and hadn’t had any competitive contact since then. Offensively we did pretty well for the most part. In our scrimmage with Searcy we didn’t do very well, but the other two we did.”

Beebe has almost its entire starting lineup back on offense from last year, and does return the entire backfield. The defense lost all three starting linemen, but two that played considerable minutes are returning. Those are Wade King and Cade Harlin.

“We feel like they’re going to be pretty good,” Shannon said.

The scrimmages were played just like a regular game. If an offense continues to get first downs, it stays on the field. If it fails, possession changes. Against Searcy, Beebe was stopped on downs on one possession, and fumbled it away on the other.

Against Rose Bud and Southside, the Badgers scored on every possession, including a couple of big plays.

“I thought Noah Jolly and Clinton Johnson, our two offensive tackles, did a really good job,” Shannon said. “Noah started for us last year at guard. We moved him out to tackle on the left side and he’s done well. We think they’re going to be pretty good.”

Taylor Boyce was the team’s big play threat last year as a sophomore. He returns at that position while Nathan Burnett starts at fullback. Kahlil Anthony returns at the other halfback spot and is backing up Burnett at fullback, which he played some last year as well.

Beebe threw the ball several times on Wednesday, and Shannon was pleased with both of his quarterbacks, Mason Walker and C.J. Cauldwell, if not the passing game overall.

“Our two quarterbacks, I thought threw it really well,” Shannon said. “We didn’t catch it well. I thought their throws should’ve been caught, but some were dropped. So right now I feel pretty good about both of them and their ability to throw it. Luke Oakley is probably our best receiver. He’s also playing halfback some, but he was our best outside linebacker last year and we’re going to keep him their primarily.”

The Beebe defense didn’t look as sharp as the offense came around to, but Shannon believes the major problem can be corrected in future camp sessions. Mostly what’s needed is competition for inexperienced players.

“Defensively our pursuit angles weren’t very good,” Shannon said. “We overran plays or we got beat outside for taking the wrong angle. We’re replacing our whole defensive line and giving different people opportunities, so that’s going to get better as we get used to the speed of varsity competition. I feel like the scrimmage helped us more defensively than anything else, just from facing someone else at full speed.”

The Badgers will return to Conway’s team camp, which they have been a part of the last several years, on June 13. After the mandatory dead period where coaches cannot be in contact with players for two weeks during the summer, they will return to Conway on July 12 and 19.