Tuesday, October 10, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lions are no relief for battered Beebe

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

The Badgers continue its most brutal schedule this week, and will limp into its homecoming showdown with the massive McClellan Lions on Friday with three starters still out. There were five missing from last week’s 35-14 loss to Parkview, and the increasing lack of depth continues to show. The Badgers (2-4, 0-3) last four opponents plus McClellan (5-1, 3-0 with the only loss coming to 7A’s No. 1 team North Little Rock) are 26-4 overall and 14-1 in conference play.

“Sometimes it feels like we’re in the SEC on the western side,” said Beebe coach John Shannon.

One key injury for Beebe was starting fullback Khalil Anthony, a senior who was having a breakout season. And it was one the coaching staff saw coming during the summer.

Last week, starting halfback Taylor Boyce moved to fullback for most of the carries. Later in the game, backup fullback Ahmad Nelson and starting safety Mason Walker shared the load, and will likely do so again this week.

“We had to find some other people that could move into the fullback spot because putting T there, everybody was loading up to stop him. So we’re putting Nelson and Walker in there at fullback so you still have to respect the halfback position and they can’t load up on one guy.”

McClellan doesn’t have the same big-play capability it did last year with dynamic dual-threat quarterback Davion Childs and now Division 1 running back Pierre Strong, but the Lions are still putting up the points this season.

Their low total all year has been in the 48-30 loss to North Little Rock. They are averaging 51 points per game.

“They don’t seem as explosive as in the past, but man they’re big,” Shannon said. “They line up in several formations but they want to run the ball. They got that 230-pound quarterback (Bennie Kemp III) and those huge linemen, that makes it tough.”

Beebe’s lack of depth has contributed to all but one of their four losses. In three of those games, the score was tied in the second half, but the Badgers lost all three by three scores.

“We’re having to play so many both ways, we’re getting worn down,” Shannon said. “Depth is our big issue, and that’s what McClellan tries to do to you. They’ve been in some close games in the first half, too. But with those big boys wearing on you, they start busting big plays on you.

“We’re going to maybe need a little luck, a turnover go our way here and there, catch a few breaks. I sure don’t think it’s a lost cause. All we can do is strap it back on, go play and see what happens.”