Friday, August 28, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Snyder pulls his punches

Rep. Vic Snyder may be the most reasonable person in all of the United States Congress. His natural inclination to try to understand the point of view of everyone from his fans to the whooping critics of government is the principal reason that Snyder is so popular in his district. That and his occasional willingness to venture out almost alone with an unpopular stand, such as his vote against authorizing the invasion of Iraq in 2003. People admire civility and courage.

But Snyder’s patience and understanding are sometimes contrived, and they lead him to a position that seems to be the safest politically in a volatile atmosphere, not the best for the country and his constituents. That is where he is in the debate over health-care reform.

In three town-hall meetings this month, Snyder has impressively tamed the raucous crowds by listening with studied patience to the sometimes bizarre and misinformed ravings of people who have been told by their insurance companies, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or somebody, that the various bills pending in the Senate or House of Representatives would impose the cruelest penalties, even death, on Americans and that the bills would produce government-rationed medical care or turn the United States into a socialist state. Snyder says he understands their concerns and explains the problems that the bills are trying to address and how the House bills would address them. He doesn’t shout back or turn the tables on a protester as Congressman Barney Frank and a few other lawmakers have done. When elderly people expressed alarms about the prospect of government medical care, Snyder did ask a big crowd at Conway how many were on Medicare and would like to give it up. (Medicare is the government.) One man shouted yes.

Good for Snyder. Every ounce of civility in this supercharged atmosphere puts us a little closer to reasoned judgment. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that on one of the central issues in the immensely complicated health-care debate, an optional public-insurance plan, Snyder is pulling his punches. He finds safety in a middle-of-the-road stand. The insurance industry, the chamber of commerce and the right-wing echo chamber have made the so-called “public option” the central issue. They say it would lead to a government takeover of the whole health-insurance industry.

The House bills, which have slight variations, would mandate everyone to buy health insurance either individually or through their employer. Families with low incomes would get a sliding subsidy from the government to help them buy a policy. The individual or the employer could keep their present insurance if they liked it or they could opt for one they liked better in an exchange where insurance companies would offer their various products. One of the options in the exchange would be a policy or several policies that the government would offer. People could buy whichever plan they liked.

Insurance companies and the chamber of commerce say the insurance companies could not compete for customers because the government plan would be a lot cheaper. Premiums for the government plan would be based on actual medical costs and the government’s very low overhead, but the insurance companies would have to calculate premiums that would cover their higher administrative costs plus sufficient profits to keep stock prices high and executives in clover. Their best argument is that Medicare, the largely government-insurance program, costs far less than private-sector insurance services, even though Medicare covers the sickest Americans, the elderly and disabled who demand far more expensive medical services.

Snyder explains that he doesn’t see much benefit from a public option and he would be happy with a bill that gave all the expanded insurance business to the handful of private insurance companies, Blue Cross, Aetna, Cigna, United, Wellpoint, Humana. On the other hand, he says, if a public option somehow made it into the final bill, he probably would vote for the bill.

But he isn’t going to fight for a public option.

Here is the reason that he should. The biggest crisis, even larger than the 47 million Americans who do not have any form of insurance, government or private, is the horrendous expense of medical care in the United States — now 17 percent of GDP, far more than any other nation on earth. Countries that guarantee care for everyone — and excellent care in most cases — do it far more cheaply. The costs are skyrocketing every year. Even the harshest critics say it is a crisis that cannot be put off any longer because it undermines the nation’s economic stability.

But without a public option that will offer cost-contained care at a low premium and force the private insurers to compete, how will they stabilize the costs? They won’t. Oh, they can slash Medicare and Medicaid, which Sen. John McCain said he would do if he were elected president, but if you think us oldsters are mad now, try curtailing and really rationing Medicare services.

Here is what will happen without an optional government plan: The insurance companies will at once get 20 to 40 million new premium-paying customers, many of them subsidized by the taxpayers, and they will not have to spend a dime on TV commercials or direct mail to sign them up. Yes, Congress may stop them from cutting off people with pre-existing conditions or stopping coverage when a longtime premium payer contracts an acute illness like cancer, which is how companies keep their profits and stock prices rising even in the darkest times. But the insurers would only have to increase their premiums to cover the increased risks. There would be no government rule or market force to restrain them.

Congressman Snyder needs to tell us how the cost containment would work without a public option. We don’t think he can.

TOP STORY >> Swine flu hits Cabot schools

Leader staff writer

These days when a nasal swab test is positive for Type A influenza, odds are the patient has the new strain of flu that has covered the globe and as yet can not be prevented with a vaccine.

Although information is sketchy, predictions from health officials that the number of cases would increase when school started were accurate.

Schools are taking precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the Arkansas Department of Health to keep students healthy. But students are getting sick despite increased use of hand sanitizer and disinfectants and instructions on proper hand washing.

Dr. Belinda Shook, school superintendent at Beebe, said Thursday that there has been one confirmed case of Type A flu at the high school.

“I’m sure there will be more,” she said.

Dr. Tony Thurman, school superintendent at Cabot where 12 children were sent home from Magness Creek Elementary School on Monday, says he has seen doctors’ notes that some of his students have Type A influenza.

Ed Barham, spokesman for the state Health Department, said Friday that he had spent much of his day on the phone with schools. And kids are getting sick, he said. Type A influenza could mean the seasonal flu, but not now, he said. Now it means that the patient is ill with what was originally called swine flu.

Over the past three months when it first surfaced with news out of Mexico that 60 people had died, the new flu has been known by three different names. First it was the generic swine flu, despite the fact that genetically it is made up of two types of swine flu, one human flu and one bird flu. Then it was called the novel H1N1 influenza virus (Swine Flu) and finally the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus.

There are three types of flu: A, B and C. The symptoms of Type C are generally mild, so the nasal swabs used at doctors’ offices to test for the flu react only to A and B. Tests by the CDC have shown that those quick tests done in doctors’ offices are accurate only 40 to 60 percent of the time with the new flu. A negative result doesn’t necessarily mean the patient doesn’t have the flu.

But further tests performed at CDC labs have shown that 98 percent of patients with positive tests for Type A influenza had 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus, or as it was called when it first surfaced, the swine flu.

To say with certainty that all the patients with the flu have the new flu is not possible because that would require more tests by the state or CDC, Barham said.

Tests were done long enough to determine which groups were most at risk and how far the virus has spread. Now they know it’s widespread among young people, pregnant women and those with chronic medical conditions. And testing has all but stopped.

Although it is a new variety, it’s still the flu and the treatment is the same as with other varieties.

“If you think you have the flu, stay home, rest and get well,” he said. “If your kids are sick, keep them home until they’re well.”

About 10 percent of those exposed to the seasonal flu will become ill, Barham said. Since no one has any immunity to the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus, the expectation is that 30 to 50 percent who are exposed will get the flu.

Every year about 36,000 die from seasonal flu. Since there won’t be a vaccine for the new flu until sometime in October, the fear is that the number could be higher, possibly even triple.

The good news for now is that the virus has not lived up to expectations, he said. The fear is that it still might.

“We want people to be aware and alert but not alarmed,” he said.

TOP STORY >> PCSSD agrees to fix elementary school

Leader editor and publisher

“No kids should go to school in these type of conditions,” said Tim Clark, president of the Pulaski County Special School District Board, as he toured Jacksonville Elementary School on Friday morning with principal Sonia Whitfield, Mayor Gary
Fletcher and Jim Durham, the mayor’s executive assistant.

The school board president wanted to check out the distressed conditions at the 44-year-old school.

As he arrived at the campus on Oak Street, Clark could see the falling canopy that covers the walkway in front of the school.

Clark called interim Superintendent Rob McGill, who had taught at Jacksonville Elementary School, to see the problems for himself: Shower curtains and bed sheets separating classrooms, dangerous electrical outlets and protruding objects sticking out of floors, where youngsters could easily trip.

McGill arrived for his inspection Friday afternoon. “We have some electrical problems taken care of,” he said. “We are working on it to come up with a plan to fix the other issues.”

He said he would order work on the floors and baseboards and on the bathrooms.

“I appreciate the fact that they are concerned with our schools,” Fletcher said.

“I apologize that you had to have a board member come out to get help,” Clark told the principal.

“We’ve got to make sure our kids are taken care of,” he said.

Clark was upset at the appalling conditions at the school. “Is this the worst school in Jacksonville?” he asked.

“The middle school is much worse,” Durham told him.

Clark promised he would get a crew over to the school and fix some of the most egregious problems there — broken floor tiles with asbestos underneath, rotting walls and floors, poor lighting, chipped concrete steps, rusted-out fixtures, filthy bathrooms and a long list of other problems.

The cafeteria had broken tiles that were glazed over to cover up the asbestos in them. The school district has allocated more than $400,000 in federal stimulus money to make improvements at the school — most of it for bathroom renovation — but those funds would fall far short of paying for the necessary repairs.

Clark was shaking his head as he toured the buildings on the campus. He seemed both angry and embarrassed, knowing how much better the schools were in Maumelle, the area he represents on the school board.

Jacksonville Elementary School, by contrast, was more like an inner-city school, where the students and staff find themselves working and studying in surroundings that are less than ideal.

They are, in fact, less than conducive to learning.

“Since Bobby Lester left as superintendent, we haven’t gotten a fair shake in Jacksonville,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher is leading the drive to separate the Jacksonville area from PCSSD.

Whitfield led the visitors down hallways and into classrooms, where teachers did their best under the circumstances. She said the school’s population is down to 471 this year, having lost 70 pupils.

Whitfield said many of those missing students have enrolled in the new Lighthouse Academy, a charter school that is having temporary classes at Second Baptist Church and will soon move into a new building on North First Street near the school.

Fletcher said he wants to see new schools built when Jacksonville gets its own district.

TOP STORY >> Nellums criticism draws ire

Leader senior staff writer

A week has passed since principal Mike Nellums had security eject chief teachers’ union representative Sandra Roy from his Mills High School office and he filed a report with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, and now the local NAACP is siding with Nellums.

Every day is something new. On Aug. 21, interim Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Rob McGill suspended Nellums with pay, pending investigation of the incident. Nellums, former principal of Jacksonville Boys Middle School, already was under investigation for telling The Leader that the district was “conducting a vendetta” against him.

Then, on Aug. 26, board member Mildred Tatum wrote a letter to the board and to the state Education Department demanding an investigation of McGill’s suspension of Nellums.

The following day, board president Tim Clark called a special meeting, went into executive session and he and some other board members told Tatum her letters were inappropriate and put the district in a bad light.

Tatum, whose district includes Mills High School, has a history of supporting Nellums. She said she was particularly miffed that McGill suspended Nellums without telling or consulting her, as the district representative.

Friday afternoon, the Jacksonville branch of the NAACP notified the district that it had launched its own investigation into Nellums’ suspension.

Tatum said that her telephone had been ringing off the hook since Friday with teachers and parents upset that Nellums had been suspended and wanting information. Nellums, reached at home, said he could not comment on the matter on the advice of his attorneys.

This is the latest skirmish in the struggle between Nellums and the powerful Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers.

PACT has been busy recruiting union-friendly candidates to run for the board and in the past two years, Gwen Williams has been joined by dependably union supporters Clark and Bill Vasquez.

It appears that they also have recruited Sandra Sawyer, who is running unopposed in the Robinson area, which should give the union a bullet-proof majority, with four of the seven board members in their corner.

In the discussion of Tatum Thursday night, the board met in a questionable executive session which Clark defended by noting that the state FOI allows executive session to hire, fire, discipline or promote a public official and that Tatum as a school board member is such an official.

The board, however, lacks authority to hire, fire, promote or discipline fellow members.

Paul Blume, counsel for the Arkansas School Board Association, said an executive meeting for that purpose was appropriate.
As is the board’s habit, McGill also attended the executive session. Blume stopped short of calling his attendance illegal, but said he would have advised against it.

Following the hour-long executive session, Clark said only that the board had discussed Tatum’s letter and that no one would be commenting.


When deputy Daphne McCoy responded to the call to Mills High School at 2:34 p.m. Aug. 20, Nellums reported that he was meeting with teacher Candy Riggan in connection with an incident the preceding day.

Nellums said he handed Riggan some paperwork to read and that Roy, her union representative, grabbed it out her hand and said, “I’ll read this.”

Nellums told the deputy that he grabbed it back and told Roy it was Riggan’s. He said Roy became upset and said she would file a grievance on him.

When Roy asked for a copy of the paperwork, he said he would check with the administration first.

“Nellums stated that Roy continued to be rude, so he asked her to leave school property. Nellums said that he then called school security officers to escort Roy off of the school property.”


The Jacksonville branch of the NAACP on Thursday sent a letter to McGill on Friday complaining that Nellums is being harassed because he is black, according to branch president Ivory Tillman.

Tillman said the district had to fire Nellums, starting with an attempt by Jacksonville Bill Vasquez about two years ago.

Since then, investigations have been launched into Nellums at the request of Vasquez, Bill Clark and now McGill.

“We wrote Mr. McGill concerning the investigation ongoing,” said Tillman. “He is the one doing the investigation, but it should be done by (Nellums’) immediate supervisor. “

“We don’t see anything substantial enough to suspend him,” said Rizelle Aaron, the Jacksonville branch chairman of legal redress. “It’s not fair to him,” he said. “He’s been with the district for 24 years.”

Aaron said Tillman had authorized him to investigate to see if Nellums was the object of racial discrimination.
“We offered the district the opportunity to contact us,” Aaron said. “We want to be open.”


In her letter to McGill, Tatum told him she would ask the board to investigate his conduct in the matter.

She wrote, “To suspend a principal at a school in my or any zone and not notify the board member from that zone is a gross neglect of duty as defined by board policy.

“As one of your immediate supervisors, you should have taken the courtesy to inform me that you had taken the action,” Tatum continued.

Tatum said that teachers and parents have expressed concern that “you have a personal vendetta against Mr. Nellums.”

She directed McGill to provide a copy of the board’s permission authorizing the investigation of Nellums.

She charged that contrary to district policy, McGill was conducting the investigation himself—a violation of school board policy.

Nellums’ immediate supervisor, Bill Barnes, deputy superintendent for secondary education, should have investigated, she said.

Tatum wrote that she was forwarding a copy of the letter to the state Department of Education, and that if McGill didn’t respond to her questions by Friday evening, she would consider it insubordination and possible grounds for dismissal.

She did not forward the letter, but wrote a summary of it to Diana Julian, acting commissioner of the state Education Department.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke home gets makeover

Leader staff writer

After trying unsuccessfully on their own to make energy improvements in their home, a Lonoke couple is getting help to cut down more on their electric bills and make their home more comfortable.

First Electric Cooperative chose the couple, Richard and Kelly Brown, for free renovations based on the condition of energy efficiency in their home. They are in the process of getting $5,000 in improvements to their home.

“Arkansas Electric Cooperatives held a statewide contest for one $50,000 home-energy-efficiency makeover,” First Electric Cooperative marketing representative Cecilia Cunningham said. “First Electric decided to do a spin-off of the idea and used a smaller budget of $5,000 to show and educate our members how the small things can make a difference.”

Cunningham said 400 members submitted applications for the makeovers.

She said the Browns’ home was chosen because they had the greatest need.

“Their house was constructed in the 1950s before insulation was popular. I’ve never seen a home without insulated duct work before I did an energy audit on this home,” Cunningham said. “The windows are all original to the home. The heat and air system was not working. It was not properly sized and was irreparable.”

First Electric staff started by going into the Brown’s home to perform an energy audit, comprised of a blower-door test and the use of a thermal-imaging camera to find the areas with the most air infiltration.

The tests will be repeated after the energy improvements are finished to show how effective the improvements are.

Afterward, First Electric will monitor the home and follow up with the Browns to assess how the improvements have made a difference.

The Browns have lived in their home off Hwy. 15 in Lonoke County for 15 years.

The couple had been living in four rooms of their 1,600-square-foot house.

Four window air conditioning units were used to cool the entire home. A heavy blanket was tacked to the entryway separating the living room from the dining room and kitchen. The blanket created a thermal curtain keeping cooler air in the parts of the home used most often.

To separate the kitchen from the utility room, the Browns used insulated foam board to make a temporary door to keep the cooled air in the kitchen.

Silver reflective insulation board was placed against the master bedroom window to block out heat from the sun. The cooler and more comfortable room is where Kelly Brown, a cancer survivor with a debilitating back injury, spent much of the day due to her health conditions.

Richard Brown paints jets at Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. Kelly Brown doesn’t work because she is a cancer survivor and has a bad back. She had corrective surgery but the nerve damage to the lower lumbar of her back is irreversible. The condition led to neuropathy that she said gives her constant, severe pain in both of her feet and lower legs.

She also recently has battled breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in October 2008. Brown had a double mastectomy and had 31 lymph nodes removed. All the lymph nodes were cancerous. She had her final radiation treatment last week. Brown also has lymphedema associated with her cancer surgery.

Kelly Brown said the First Electric home-energy-efficiency project was fantastic.

“Most people do not think about an electric company giving back. People think electric companies are a necessary evil.

Everyone is so shocked at who sponsored the contest,” Brown pointed out.

First Electric appreciated that the couple was willing to do the work to improve their home.

“One of the things that drew me to the Browns was they knew what their energy-efficiency challenges were. They were already taking measures on their part to combat that,” Cunningham said.

“We had a house that needed a lot of help. The house had no lack of attention,” Richard Brown said.

The Browns felt they did what they could on their own but needed more help.

“When you are on a limited income, you have to find creative ways to have money to spend on necessities,” Kelly Brown said.

“Saving on your electric bill is one way of having more money in your pocket for necessities.”

Brown said on their own, they replaced the incandescent light bulbs in their home with compact fluorescent lights. Each paycheck, he would buy one package until every single bulb was a CFL bulb.

“I put socket insulation behind the outlet plates,” he said.

He also put clear plastic sheeting along the window frames inside the home during the winter to prevent cold air from seeping into the rooms.

Kelly Brown said, “We added more cellulose insulation to the attic. It was a hot and difficult job, but it helped with our electric bill.

“We did start turning off the water heater at the circuit box. It saved some months $80,” she added.

A crew of 10 people consisting of some paid contractors from Whit Davis Lumber Plus, Harris Insulation of Lonoke, Stedfast Heating and Air and First Electric worked on the improvements.

Before work on the home make-over was scheduled to begin, a fire broke out in the attic at 4:45 a.m. on Aug. 17.

The cause of the fire was determined to be at the 50-year-old original main power feed to the house. When the house was built, the wires had been improperly connected. Cunningham said the wires were coupled instead of spliced.

Ballard Electric of Lonoke came out to the house later that morning and worked until 5 p.m. replacing all the damaged wiring.

The installation of a new heat pump was delayed for four days.

When they did start, First Electric’s energy-efficiency home improvements began at the ground level.

In the crawl space, a vapor barrier of 6-mil plastic sheeting was installed to cover the bare ground. The plastic sheeting will cover the ground to the exterior walls of the crawl space and the air vents along the crawl space will be permanently closed.

The foundation’s concrete, cinder-block walls, the copper hot- water pipes and the outer surface of the duct work will be sprayed with closed-cell foam insulation sprayed by Harris Insulation. The labor and some of the insulating materials were donated by Harris Insulation.

“This will not only insulate the duct work but will prevent any possible air leaks in the HVAC system,” Cunningham said.
Stedfast removed the non-working, four-ton air conditioning and furnace unit.

Workers replaced the unit with an energy-efficient, three-ton Trane heat pump sold at the reduced rate of about $3,100.

The seasonal energy-efficiency rating (SEER) for the heat pump is 16. The government standard for minimum efficiency is a 13 rating for a unit.

Whit Davis Lumber Plus sold a steel, insulated door for the front entrance of the house at a reduced price.

The door was installed to replace the wood, hollow-core door. They also replaced the rotted door jambs and sealed around them.

Whit Davis is also replacing at a reduced cost the front single-pane, aluminum-framed picture window with a double-pane, vinyl-framed window. Whit Davis will also replace a pane of glass that was missing in a spare bedroom window.

Improvements to the attic include adding 10 inches of cellulose insulation. To help remove heat, three new roof ventilation turbines will be installed.

Whit Davis Lumber is donating labor and materials for a new attic access door. The lumber store also donated a hot water heater timer and a water heater blanket.

The Browns will be putting in sweat equity by installing the hot water heater timer, wrapping the water heater with a water heater blanket and caulking all the windows.

Whit Davis also donated 12 return air filters for the HVAC system.

They provided two cases of sealing caulk and six cans of Great Stuff foaming insulation to seal gaps along doorways and under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, where the HVAC system connects to the home and at the points where cable wires, telephone wires and electrical conduits enter the home.

The energy efficiency make-over was to be completed Friday.

In addition to the Browns, other First Electric members chosen for the mini energy makeovers were John and Melissa Toomer of Searcy, Chester and Kimberly Brown of Mabelvale, Mike and Christi Miller of Perryville and E.R. and Mildred Dabbs of Humphrey.


Oxygen, human cells used in treatment of diabetic ulcers

Story and photos by Christy Hendricks, Leader staff writer

Cabot resident Demilee Colbert credits North Metro Wound Healing Center for saving both of his legs.

Colbert, who turns 61 in October, has diabetes. A year ago, his ailing wife was in the hospital, and he was there by her side until the end. She passed away July 3, 2008, just 20 days shy of the couple’s 40th anniversary. It was during that week that Colbert noticed he had a spot on his left foot. After his wife passed away, he went to see his doctor who told him there would have to be an amputation.

“I got up and walked out of the hospital,” Colbert said.

Colbert went to the Wound Healing Center in Jacksonville, where he was treated by Dr. Kevin Bay for the ulcer on his foot. Part of the treatment involved a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. He spent two hours a day, five days a week – totaling 40 treatments – in the chamber. The treatments saved his leg, Colbert says.

During the pain-free treatments, 100 percent oxygen is piped into the chamber. The oxygen goes into the body and reaches the cellular level, so that even patients with poor blood circulation may benefit.

“We find it helps in the wound-healing process,” says Jan Maness, program director for the center.

To qualify for treatment in the hyperbaric chamber, a patient has to have specific symptoms, such as a bone infection or abscess, tendonitis or an ulcer that does not improve within 30 days, according to Penny Garner, a registered nurse at the center.

Colbert was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, or chronic bone infection, qualifying him for the oxygen treatments.

He started attending church shortly after his wife passed away. “I’ve had a lot of prayers,” he says. “I used to not go to church much, but after my wife passed and my health started getting bad, I started going.”

A few weeks ago, Colbert found a spot on the big toe of his right foot. Colbert went immediately to the wound-healing center and started treatment.

Dr. Kevin Collins has been treating him each Tuesday, cleaning the wound and putting a Dermagraft on it. Shortly after starting treatments, Colbert found a second spot on the heel of his right foot.

On Tuesday, Dr. Collins put Dermagraft on it also.

The number of treatments depends on the patient, according to Hickey. He says the FDA has approved a maximum of eight treatments. Colbert only needed two.

Colbert says after about six weeks of treatments, his big toe is already better. He says the wounds and treatments haven’t hindered him from his daily routine. He has even been driving his motorcycle.

Research shows that the mortality rate for diabetic ulcer patients is upwards of 45 percent, Hickey says. “The faster you get an ulcer healed, the better chance that patient has,” he says. “Thousands of patients have benefited to date.”

“I get around pretty good,” Colbert says. “I take care of myself. The good Lord helps a lot.”

The ulcers he’s been treated for over the past year are just minor ailments for Colbert. Ten years ago, Colbert went to check his mail and “it felt like a nail hit me” in the head. He says he was blind for three days. He spent three weeks learning how to walk again.

“You have to believe in your doctors,” he says.

“I used to drink heavy and smoke,” says Colbert. “The Jacksonville hospital saved me.”

During the manufacturing process, broblast cells from newborn foreskin tissue are seeded onto a bioabsorbable polyglactin mesh scaffold. The frozen cells are put through a defrost process and applied to a wound. When applied, the cells help in the restoration of the dermal bed by secreting human dermal collagen, matrix proteins, growth factors and cytokines, creating a three-dimensional dermal substitute containing living cells, according to

Dermagraft, a relatively new treatment, is “a living skin substitute produced in a lab,” according to Shawn Hickey, advanced technology specialist at Advanced Biohealing, where the product is produced. According to Hickey, Dermagraft is made from neonatal fibroblast, originated from a donor around three to five years ago.

The wound-healing center has been using the treatment for around a year and a half, according to Garner.

SPORTS >> Defense rules as Badgers, Lions hold scrimmage

Leader sportswriter

Tuesday night’s benefit game between Searcy and Beebe at Bro Erwin Stadium featured two teams with completely different agendas.

For Beebe, led by third-year coach John Shannon, it was the first opportunity for his team of mostly young, inexperienced players to familiarize themselves with typical Friday night conditions. For Searcy, it was the first all-out matchup with an opponent under new coach Tim Harper, the former head coach at Des Arc.

Those two agendas collided for a defense-dominated scrimmage. Searcy pushed the ball 70 yards for a score on its first 15-play possession, but had limited success after that. Beebe’s running game was consistent, but with a number of fumbles at critical points.

“I thought overall the kids had a great effort,” said Shannon. “We got after it and competed well. We made some mistakes. We put the ball on the ground a few times. I was a little disappointed with that. I thought we missed some sure tackles on defense. But overall, for the first time with such a young group, I thought we did a pretty good job.”

The format consisted of each team running 15 plays each. After three 15-play drives for each team, the junior varsity squads traded 10-play series before the night concluded with red-zone scrimmages at the 10-yard line.

The Lions had success moving the ball early with junior quarterback Josh Rowden to score in 12 plays on the first drive, capping the series with a 16-yard touchdown scramble.

The Lions came close to another score on the first sequence when Rowden found junior fullback Mike Brown for a completion on the right side near the goal line, but the play was negated on a holding penalty.

There was, not surprisingly, little passing by Beebe. Starting junior quarterback Scott Gowen led the Badgers 70 yards in nine plays in their first sequence. The drive featured a series of short runs by halfback Colby Taylor and fullback Adam Griffis, with Gowen getting in on the action as well.

Gowen’s 15-yard scamper on the fourth play took the ball across midfield and moved the chains, and a 12-yard touchdown run by senior Victor Howell down the right side evened the score. Howell carried the ball three times in the first sequence for 28 yards.

“He’s our fastest kid,” said Shannon. “Hopefully, we can get him in some open space and he can use that speed. But there were a couple of times where we couldn’t even get him to the corner because we missed some blocks. We’ve just got a lot of mistakes we need to fix. As long as the effort is there, we’ve got a chance.”

Beebe added a pair of late scores with the red-zone drills.

“That’s what these scrimmages are for – to see the mistakes that you make and let these kids play in a live situation,” said Shannon. “So hopefully, they get some of the mistakes corrected and some of the jitters out of the way before they really start
counting next week.”

The Lions’ biggest offensive spark was backup quarterback Dezmund Stegall. The 6-1, 185-pound sophomore showed flashes of being a solid all-purpose field general, leading the Lions near the red zone in Searcy’s second offensive sequence. He completed only 2 of 8 passes, overthrowing several receivers. But he connected on a 40-yard bomb to a wide open B.J. Slaughter down the left side. That was the biggest gainer of the night for either team. Stegall also had a pair of scrambles for 17 yards.

The Badgers’ second team offensive unit had less difficulty holding on to the ball, but more trouble moving it. Junior backup quarterback Jordan Brockway led his unit 45 yards before the 15 plays were up, although a miscue between Brockway and running back Donny Lewis on a pitch right resulted in a fumble and loss of yards on the final play of the sequence.

Unofficially, the final score ended up 13-6 in Beebe’s favor. In light of last year’s 56-0 Badger blowout, the Tim Harper era of Searcy football opened on a positive note.

Beebe’s defense bent but did not break on the remaining Searcy sequences after giving up the opening TD.

“I thought defensive end Dillon Jones did a good job of containing the quarterback,” said Shannon. “He made several good plays. Adam Griffis did a good job at linebacker. The rest of it is hard to tell until we get in there and watch the film. Overall, I felt like the defense did a good job other than a couple of missed tackles that they made big runs on.”

Beebe will open regular-season play next Friday at home against Greenbrier, while Searcy will play at Vilonia.

SPORTS >> Happy to be off the sidelines and back in the game

Leader sports editor

Sorry it’s taken me so long to say hello.

About three weeks ago I landed here at The Leader feet first, which is a better way to land than to be carried out, I’m sure of it.

My on-the-job training has kept me pretty busy but, really, there was no rush to introduce myself. We’re not really strangers.

I live just up the road from our Jacksonville office in Cabot, which is a beautiful and ancient name that, when translated, means “no sidewalks.”

When I worked for the statewide daily, the Panthers, who play a few blocks down my street, were always the plum assignment on Friday night. Those guys know how to eat up the clock, and the quick games made it possible for me to have my story filed and be home in time for the first “Seinfeld”.

Well, that won’t happen anymore. No matter who I cover, as your new sports editor, I’m going to spend a lot of long Friday nights in the office waiting for the last game to be played and putting the section out.

And I can’t wait.

See, I believe you have to enjoy what you do. You have to have fun.

Oh I understand the importance of a paycheck, having been rescued from the ranks of the unemployed by The Leader’s dedicated publisher Garrick Feldman, and my talented predecessor Kelly Fenton, who put me up for the job then made the mistake of leaving me his phone number.

Kelly just wants to complete his move to New Jersey and write his memoirs. Instead, he is going to field a stream of calls from me on subjects like how to properly size a photo, the location of the Riverview roster and where to find the non-dairy creamer in the break room. Except Kelly thinks creamer is un-manly so he wouldn’t know where that is.

Though his disdain for rich, flavorful coffee may be unreasonable, Kelly put in a good word for me and I have a regular income again.

There is something I was missing just as much.

It’s the sportswriter’s version of the “green moment” fans enjoy when they enter a stadium and first lay eyes on the field. It’s a rush of anticipation, as when you begin that first big drop on a rollercoaster.

I’ve felt it driving to spring training sessions in Florida and Arizona, trying to keep a cup of hotel coffee balanced in my hand while zipping past the palms or the red rocks of the desert.

I’ve felt it watching special- teams players straggle onto the turf to warm up while fans trickled into places like Neyland Stadium and Kyle Field.

And I’ve felt it when pulling into a small town and catching sight of the lights on Fridays.

In words, the feeling reads something like, “Wow, I’m getting paid to go to the game!”

I’m looking forward to having that feeling again, because I believe sports, at their best, are about entertainment. At their best they are a pastime, a pleasant distraction from the daily grind. At their best they bring people together. They are fun.

I like humor in sports, goofy stuff. I like the unusual. And those are the things we’ll try to explore here.

But we’ll move forward understanding that sports have such a large role in our society, economically and socially, that we can’t ignore the bad news. When it’s called for, we’ll talk about the influence of money, for better or worse, and we’ll address the scandals and try to reveal the villains.

But we may not get to any of that for awhile, which is why I wanted to introduce myself now, while there’s time. I expect to be a little busy when football season kicks off, at least at first. So for a stretch we may just have to leave this space to the athletes and their glory.

Which is what it’s all about.

So I look forward to being back in the press box; I look forward to helping The Leader produce continued, quality coverage; I look forward to working with the astute Jason King, whose 18 percent accuracy on his Friday night picks is really, really scary.

Most of all, I’m just looking forward.

Let’s go. I bet we see something good.

SPORTS >> Jacksonville, Cabot renew heated rivalry

Leader sportswriter

Lights, camera, brawl!

The rivalry between Cabot and Jacksonville is intense enough it was given its own title last year when it was dubbed the Backyard Brawl.

This year, the ante has been upped as Tuesday night’s season opener at Panther Stadium will be the first live televised high-school football game in the state of Arkansas.

Local news channel KARK-TV Channel 4 will broadcast the game live on its cable affiliate KARZ-TV Channel 42, with sports anchor Aaron Nolan and legendary newscaster Dave Woodman calling the play-by-play.

Red Devils coach Mark Whatley has more to be concerned about than bright lights, though, after a Tuesday night scrimmage that ended with mixed results.

A stout defense that contained top national running back prospect Michael Dyer of Little Rock Christian Academy was offset by an offense that had trouble converting first downs.

“Yeah, we’ve got concerns,” said Whatley. “We didn’t throw or catch the ball well at all. We had several chances close to the sticks and didn’t finish.”

Cabot fared a lot better in its scrimmage with Lake Hamilton.

“We were a little sharper on offense than what I was expecting,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham, now entering his 28th season.

“But with seven guys back on defense, it wasn’t quite as sharp. We gave up some pretty big plays.”

With a traveling trophy, community bragging rights and now the TV broadcast surrounding the game, the key for Whatley is getting his team to focus on the job at hand.

“You’ve got to have nerves to play football,” said Whatley. “The thing that concerns me is getting prepared to try and win the conference title and become a better football team with a tough defense and consistent offense.”

Malham said he is not overly concerned with the presence of TV cameras.

“Once the game gets going, that’s what they will all be focused on,” said Malham. “If anything, it might help them a little more with time outs, give them a chance to get a drink and regroup.

“I think the kids who haven’t played in a Friday night setting, although this one’s on a Tuesday night, will be more on their nerves than anything. They have to get used to playing under the lights in a big game.”

The Panthers will come in to Tuesday’s game with a lot more experience among their starters — Jacksonville lost almost all of its skill position starters to graduation — although they will be without the services of senior fullback Michael James, who lit up the Jacksonville defense for 171 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries in last year’s opener.

That accounted for almost half of Cabot’s 397 yards, all of which were gained on the ground on its way to a 41-15 blowout win.

Whatley hopes to avoid a repeat this year.

“There are two keys to that,” said Whatley. “The first thing is that offensively, we have to have our offense out there keeping their offense off the field. It’s a concern whether we’ll be able to move the ball enough to keep them off.

“The second thing is, defensively, first downs are huge. If they get four or five yards on first down, that means our backs are against the wall. They want to go three, three-and-a-half yards a play, so stopping them on first down is key.”

The Red Devils will be without senior receiver/defensive back Devin Featherston, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in a recent practice. Featherston was expected to contribute on both sides, but will now be out anywhere from two to eight weeks. The game will also be a test for sophomore starting defensive lineman Michael Thornabar, who will see his first varsity playing time against a physical Cabot offensive front.

Despite the minor setbacks, Whatley feels like his defense is ready.

The scrimmage jamboree at Sylvan Hills gave the Devils defense a look at some of the best offenses in the state.

“We were very pleased with the defense,” said Whatley. “I told them before we went out there that I could care less what the scoreboard said. We just wanted to be the most physical team out there, and the way our defense played, I thought we were. If we keep playing physical and keep the emotion and passion there, we’ll be okay.”

SPORTS >> Devils struggle in scrimmage

Leader sports editor

Mark Whatley didn’t try to convince himself or anybody else that Jacksonville’s offense was anything but disappointing in two scrimmages at Sylvan Hills on Tuesday.

The Red Devils, who figured to struggle early with the loss of most of their skill players, failed to score a point in either scrimmage, falling 14-0 to Little Rock Christian and 20-0 later in the evening to Pulaski Academy.

“Yeah, we’ve got concerns,” said Whatley, Jacksonville’s fifth-year head coach. “We didn’t throw and catch the ball well at all.

We had several right close to the sticks and we just didn’t finish.”

Logan Perry completed 8 of 13 passes against the Bruins, but for only 66 yards. Thirty-seven of those came on a swing pass to sophomore running back Gary Harrison for one of the few effective plays versus the PA defense. Harrison reached the eight, but the Red Devils failed to punch it in, and on fourth down Perry was picked at the goal line.

The running game produced only 20 yards, though the Devils lost 15 yards on two sacks of Perry. John Johnson and Antwone Mosby showed some promise. Johnson ripped off a 15-yard run while Mosby used a hesitation move to rumble for nine. But other than a 12-yard run by Harrison, the Red Devils could sustain little during the course of the evening.

With the absence of receiver Devin Featherston, who is out as many as six weeks with a high ankle sprain, Perry turned to Price Eubanks. He was the only Red Devil to catch two passes against the Bruins.

While Jacksonville’s defense, expected to be the team’s strength, was game against Michael Dyer and the Warriors, it fell off considerably against the Bruins. The coverage was solid at times, but the Bruins were still able to complete 13 of 27 passes for 131 yards and added 93 yards on the ground for a total of 224 yards.

The Red Devils were in position twice on the Bruins’ first scoring drive but both times failed to bat the ball down. The first one extended a drive and the second one resulted in a touchdown when D’Vone McClure tipped the ball into the hands of L.J. Wallace for a five-yard score.

PA made it 13-0 on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Wallace. The Bruins got their final touchdown on a screen pass that was sniffed out perfectly by the Devil ‘D.’ But Wallace broke loose from a would-be tackler at the line of scrimmage and scooted 69 yards for the score.

Against Little Rock Christian, Jacksonville’s offense struggled every bit as much but the defense was solid, especially in containing the fast and powerful Dyer, who saw limited action. A secondary breakdown, though, resulted in a 40-yard touchdown strike at the end of the first quarter and a 7-0 Warrior lead.

The Warriors’ other score was the result of a marvelous catch in the left corner of the end zone by 6-6, 250-pound Dakota Mosley, who simply out-skied defensive back Cedric Young for the touchdown.

While the offense could do little the rest of the way, the defense stood up against Dyer and the scrimmage ended when safety Jacarius Jordan took down the 5-9, 210-pound Division I shoe-in in the open field.

Jacksonville heads into its season opener at Cabot on Tuesday with questions about its offense but with a defense that can keep them in it.

“We were very pleased with the defense,” Whatley said. “I told them before we went out there that I could care less what the scoreboard said. We just wanted to be the most physical team out there. The way our defense played, I thought we were.

“If we keep playing physically and keep the emotion and the passion there, we’ll be okay.”

SPORTS >> Stadium lights ... Camera ...Action!

Leader sports editor

Cabot and Jacksonville have had all their preseason tune-ups.

Now it is time for fans to tune in.

Cabot will play host to Jacksonville at Panther Stadium on Tuesday in the first Arkansas high school game to air live on statewide, commercial television.

“It’s going to be a big game,” Jacksonville fullback Doug Sprouse said. “It’s televised, we’ve been crosstown rivals for forever.

We’ve both got pretty good teams, good coaches. It’s going to be big. It’s going to be a change, being televised.”

A crew of 20, with two trucks, seven cameras and 3,000 feet of cable, will descend on Panther Stadium to broadcast the season opener, the first of a 12-game slate to be seen on KARZ-TV Channel 42, sister station to KARK-TV Channel 4 in Little Rock.

“I think there’s been some cable-access kind of stuff,” KARK assistant news director Jeff Whatley said. “But this is the first time on commercial television.

“It’s something Channel 4 has wanted to do for some time but couldn’t.”

The game is the only Tuesday matchup on the KARZ schedule. The other 11 games will air on Thursdays, and while it hasn’t been finalized, Whatley is hoping there will be a weekend re-broadcast on either KARK or KARZ.

“I think it’s great because it’s something that everybody else has been doing and it’s finally getting here to Arkansas,”

Jacksonville athletic director Jerry Wilson said. “And I think it’s going to be a big plus for our kids.”

Jeff Whatley is the brother of Jacksonville coach Mark Whatley, but said the relationship had nothing to do with the selection of

Cabot-Jacksonville for the historic, inaugural broadcast.

“We just know that was a good rivalry,” Jeff Whatley said.

“We know the electricity will be there,” Mark Whatley said.

Actually, electricity was a problem. Panther Stadium has been renovated and modernized over the years, but it lacked the wattage to power KARK’s production truck and the microwave truck that will handle the live feed.

“It takes a lot of power and we couldn’t accommodate all that stuff,” Cabot athletic director Johnny White said. “So we had to rent a generator to supply the power for all their equipment. Most of the old stadiums like ours – we’re overused as it is for power so we had to bring in a special generator. But we’re glad to do that and hopefully it will work out well for them.”

Another initial concern for Cabot was the gate. The school is hoping to pack Panther Stadium, which holds approximately 5,000, and there were fears a live TV broadcast would cut into the turnout.

Jeff Whatley said the station was paying each home team $500, which could offset a potential drop in attendance, and he said the re-broadcast option would allow people to come to the games and watch the TV coverage later.

“I think community spirit is going to solve that problem,” he said. “I think when people realize their community is going to be spotlighted on state-wide television they’re going to go out and show their community the best they can.”

Cabot coach Mike Malham said televised high school football might have more benefit for the sport overall than it would for a specific team.

“If somebody in Little Rock doesn’t have some team that they follow then they can sit there and watch a good high school game on TV,” Malham said. “And then after watching they might decide, ‘Hey this is kind of neat. Let’s go out and watch a ballgame.’ ”

Other states, like Texas, have had successful, live high school broadcasts for years. Whatley said KARK had wanted to put high school football on the air for some time, but it finally became possible when KARZ was launched in January.

KARK, an NBC affiliate, couldn’t do the broadcasts because they would conflict with scheduled, sponsored programming.

“Our company is actually based in Texas and we have some stations there and it’s proven well down there,” said Whatley, who believes local sports give viewers a unique option in the satellite and cable era. “There’s more and more of a push these days, especially with additional channels out there, and the thing that separates us from 300 other channels is it’s local.”

The game will air on Channel 42 if viewers have a satellite package. Cable subscribers are asked to check their local listings.

Throughout the off-season, production people visited the stadium sites to plan camera angles and press box space and solve other logistical problems. More bugs were worked out during a dress rehearsal at the four-team scrimmage at Sylvan Hills on Tuesday.

“That was probably the best decision we made,” Whatley said.

Dave Woodman and Aaron Nolan will handle the color and play by play at Panther Stadium, and Whatley said there would be slow motion replay and some graphics.

“It’s not going to look like NBC Sunday Night Football,” Whatley said. “But we feel like we can put on a good, live football product.”

There will be one-minute breaks after every score but no official television timeouts. An on-field guide will coordinate with officials to make sure action doesn’t resume before a commercial break has ended.

When its dead T offense is clicking, Cabot has been known to turn in some short games. But the extra time between plays, while slowing things down, might turn out to be a plus, Malham said.

“Early in the season that’s not bad until you get that game conditioning,” Malham said.

The added bright lights and exposure are potentially nerve-wracking, especially in a season opener when emotions are already high, but the players aren’t expecting any stage fright.

“It definitely heightens the anticipation for the game, that’s for sure,” Cabot senior quarterback Seth Bloomberg said. “I think we’ll still give great effort, it’s not going to affect us in any way. We’ll still go out there and play ball to the best of our ability.”

For Mark Whatley and the Red Devils and Malham and the Panthers, receiver screens and screen passes are always going to matter more than being on the small screen.

“A lot of times you go places and you stick around, a football game is going to break out here in a minute,” Whatley said of the hype surrounding the game. “So we’re going to stick around until the football game breaks out. That’s our job, that’s what we need to be concerned with. The distractions, you’ve got to keep them to a minimum and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Bob Johnson is no Truman

The budget deficit is exploding, unemployment is rising, violence in Iraq and Afghanistan is climbing, school test scores continue to lag, and Bob Johnson says he may run for the United States Senate. Will the bad news never cease?

A Republican blog leaked the word last week that “Death Star Bob Johnson,” as the Arkansas Times calls the state senator from Bigelow, was thinking about running against Senator Blanche Lincoln for the Democratic nomination next year. Yes, he confirmed, all kinds of people are encouraging him to run and he may have to give in. He thought people would like to have a Democratic senator who would kick the traces of the party’s leaders, in her and his case Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader.

Hardly any Democrat follows the party’s leadership less often than Blanche Lincoln, unless it is Mark Pryor. A real alternative would be someone who votes with the Republican leadership all the time. There will be plenty of them running. We suspect that most people, regardless of their political allegiance, would take a real Republican over a faux Republican. Something there is to be said for the straightforward honesty of identifying yourself with the ideas and the party with which you have concert.
If running against Lincoln from the right in the Democratic primary does not seem awkward and unproductive, Bob Johnson is burdened by his record in the state Senate and House of Representatives. People may remember him for leading the battle in the legislature four years ago to allow Deltic Timber to clear the hillsides around Lake Maumelle for luxury estates, which would risk polluting the pristine waters that provide drinking water for most of us in central Arkansas. Johnson is the master of power building and logrolling in the legislature, but for one of the few times he was bested in that effort by his successor as speaker of the House of Representatives, Bill Stovall of Quitman. Johnson tried to make amends to the clean-water people (that is, most of us) this year, but it is hard to forget what were his first instincts.

Johnson organized what became known as “The Brotherhood,” a consortium of conservative senators from both parties who controlled the Senate and directed tens of millions of dollars in state appropriations into political projects that helped legislators get re-elected. How he did it happened to be illegal. Mike Wilson of Jacksonville sued, saying that the earmarks violated the constitutional prohibition against local and special acts, and the Arkansas Supreme Court said he was right.
But the cronyism did not reach its pinnacle until this summer. Johnson helped ramrod the lottery-enabling bill through the legislature and installed his mentor, Ray Thornton, as a member of the Lottery Commission and then as its chairman. Johnson had his aide find an expert to tell them how to run a lottery right and she landed Ernie Passailaigue of South Carolina, now the $324,000-a-year director of the lottery. When the fat salaries began to be handed out to the right people for sinecures on the lottery team, Johnson and Thornton pronounced them fine.

The best that can be said about Johnson’s credentials as a Democrat is that as speaker of the Arkansas House, he gave Governor Mike Huckabee fits. That ought not be enough. Huckabee was right on occasion.

Johnson called himself a “Harry Truman Democrat.” Everybody in America, conservative or liberal, eventually became an admirer of Harry S. Truman, so it is hard to know what that means to Bob Johnson. Even Republicans invoke Truman’s name at their quad- rennial presidential conventions. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush claimed his mantle.

Truman bucked the prevailing passions of the time and called for a national health-care system for every American, full civil rights for African-Americans and a massive American aid program to rebuild war-ravaged Europe. He fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the conservative icon who wanted a wider war with the communists. Truman fought for greater protections for workers to organize unions and to strike, and he vetoed the anti-labor amendments that unions now seek to change with the so-called card-check bill. Congress had to pass Taft Hartley over Truman’s veto. He promised to win back workers’ organizing rights, but a conservative Congress never let him.

Is that the Truman Democrat that Senator Bob Johnson would be? The Stephens financial interests, who are his big backers, and the other people who are after him to run for the Senate, do not have that in mind. We are sure that Johnson doesn’t either.

But if he does, he ought to let everyone know up front. We could reassess Bob Johnson. We are not holding our breath.

TOP STORY >> Elderly find comfort at area centers

Special to The Leader

August in Arkansas means the heat is on, and temperatures that can be an aggravation for some local residents can be a real danger for others – especially the elderly.

Many local seniors live on fixed incomes and can’t afford to run their air conditioners during the hot summer months. One alternative for some of those residents is the Jacksonville Senior Center.

Center director Christy McMillion said it’s not uncommon for seniors to spend the entire day at the facility.

“I have a couple of them I know that are here before I get here in the morning and stay until we have to ask them to leave,” McMillion said. “Some of them go to other businesses in town and wait for it to cool off.”

McMillion said the center has seen an increase in registration.

“We’ve had 10 people sign up this week,” she said. “I’m not necessarily saying it’s because of the hot weather but we have had more people coming in.”

In the past, McMillion said the center has provided fans to seniors who couldn’t afford to use their air conditioners. But she said donations of fans have dropped dramatically, from a truckload in 2007 to none this year.

“We haven’t received any this year,” she said. “In the past we’ve had people contact us about donating fans but this year we haven’t.”

McMillion said employees of the center are working with some of the seniors to improve their housing situations, but the center doesn’t have enough funding to assist with high utility bills.

The center did receive $15,000 in federal stimulus funding, McMillion said, but the bulk of that was specifically earmarked for meals that are served in the center.

The number of meals that the center serves both in-house and through its Meals on Wheels delivery program also is on the rise, McMillion said.

“We had a record month in July,” she said. “We served a little more than 1,000 meals inside the center.”

Including the home-delivered meals, McMillion said, the total was more than 4,000 in July.

“We have 180 people on home-delivered meals,” she said.

That program relies heavily on a crew of 60 to 70 volunteers, McMillion said.

The senior citizen centers in Cabot and Beebe had no increase in the number of clients served due to heat.

Sharon Anderson, director of the Lonoke County Council on Aging which runs the center in Cabot, said the temperatures have not been hot enough this year to open the center as a cooling station.

“We had a little hot stretch in June but it was cooler in July,” Anderson said. “I don’t think we ever reached triple digits.”

Last year was a different story though. The hot temperatures came late in the year, she said, and by the time she needed to ask for donations of air conditioners, they were all gone. Wal-Mart in Lonoke sent a few fans instead.

Karen Alcott, director of the Beebe Senior Center, which is open from 8:30 a.m. to noon, said the center serves lunch to up to 16 area residents and those numbers
have not increased this summer.

Leader staff writer Joan McCoy contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >> Junior auxiliaries help students

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Junior Auxiliary and the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot made sure needy school children were prepared for the first day of school with free backpacks and supplies.

A Backpack Blast-off was held by the Jacksonville Junior Auxiliary on Aug. 8 at the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club. The auxiliary gave out 220 backpacks to students from kindergarten to 12th grade. The backpacks contained paper, pencils, crayons, glue, folders, scissors, markers and tablets.

Along with the backpack giveaway, dentists with Central Arkansas Dental Associates provided free dental screenings.

Auxiliary president Lindsey Beavers said, “We had a very good turnout. We had 10 to 15 backpacks left over that were given to the boys and girls club to be distributed as needed.”

Beavers said the Jacksonville auxiliary will continue to help children during the school year by providing Walmart gift cards to school counselors to use if a student is in need of clothing, shoes, school supplies or a coat.

During the Christmas season, the Jacksonville auxiliary assists students in the Jacksonville area through its Christmas Wish program. The auxiliary along with residents and businesses provide Christmas gifts to 10 needy children at each of the eight elementary schools and at the Lighthouse Academy charter school.

Another way the auxiliary is assisting needy students is through a scholarship program.

Beavers said the auxiliary has scholarships available for two girls in their junior year of high school, one for a Jacksonville High School student and the other for a North Pulaski High School student.

The scholarship recipients receive $500 their junior year and $500 their senior year. The funds are used to cover their senior year expenses such as college entrance-exam testing, a class ring, cap and gown and graduation invitations.

To raise funds for their projects, the junior auxiliary has a boxed-lunch program in which members sell boxed lunches four times a year to local businesses, chamber of commerce members and others within the community.

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot has been assisting students of low-income families for several years. One such program is the Backpack Brigade. The program provides backpacks for students in need at all the schools in the Cabot School District.

Kristi Johnson, Ward Central Elementary School counselor, said the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot has had a long-term partnership with the school and members can be counted on to help students who need it.

“They are always helpful. Whenever we have a special need, they go out of their way to help,” Johnson said.

Cabot auxiliary president Natalie Berry said, “There are so many children in our community in need. We are fortunate enough to provide help.”

Johnson added, “About two weeks before school starts, I began receiving phone calls asking for help with supplies, backpacks or both.

“The parents in the community are very appreciative of the help. When things are looking up for them, they turn around and help others,” Johnson said.

Along with new backpacks for the new school year, the auxiliary provided each elementary school in the district with five head lice removal kits.

Berry said, “The lice kits are very expensive, especially for the families that are already in need of financial support. There are many people who will send their children to school with lice or who do not know how to check for lice.

“When there is a lice outbreak in a school and a child is sent home, it is the parents’ responsibility to buy the medicine and make sure the child, house and everything in their home is treated and lice-free before the child can return to school. This puts a huge burden on an already depressed situation,” Berry explained.

Members of the Junior Auxiliary of Cabot were required to provide one lice kit during their July meeting.

Usually during the July meeting, members bring new socks or underwear for youngsters. The auxiliary required members to purchase lice kits because they had a surplus of clothing this year. Berry said they had to do something because last year there was a great need for the kits during the school year.

To raise funding for their projects, the auxiliary holds a bunko bash in the fall, the Cabotfest Pageant and Strawberry Festival.

The Junior Auxiliary also has a cookbook for sale.

The Junior Auxiliary of Cabot has several projects towards assisting students in the Cabot School District. Christmas Blessing helps to provide gifts to children in need within the Cabot School District with help from the community.

Another project is the Glass Slipper program, which provides prom attire to Cabot students who need the help. Another program provided by the auxiliary is crystal-meth awareness classes for 10th graders. Auxiliary members show a presentation on the dangers and the effects of methamphetamine during science classes.

At the elementary school level, the auxiliary has a Reading First program, where members read to first-grade students. As part of the program, the students are given books of their own to take home.

For second-grade students, the auxiliary provides free dental screening with the help of local dentists.

TOP STORY >> Mixed report card

Leader staff writer

The Pulaski County Special School District has received an overall C- and a D in math for the 2007-2008 school year from the Arkansas Policy Foundation.

The foundation, which looks at districts’ test scores statewide, gave Searcy all A’s, Cabot and Beebe all B’s and Lonoke all C’s.

PCSSD has fallen slightly since the 2004-2005 school year, the first time the state group ranked the school district. It received straight C’s across the board then.

The foundation grades districts in math and reading and then gives an adjusted overall grade.

The grades are based on student performance on national exams at the first- and ninth-grade levels. Through a formula, the test score averages are converted to a grade- point average between zero and four and then the district is given the corresponding letter grade.

In the latest study, 16 other school districts besides Searcy received either an overall A or A-. Nine districts received an overall F.

Searcy has continued to do well. In the first year of this type of analysis, the district received a B in reading, an A in math and an A- overall. In the latest study, the district had A’s in all three categories. It was one of nine districts in the state to get an overall A.

Cabot had a B in reading and math and a B- overall in the 2004-2005 study. In the 2007-2008 study, Cabot had B’s across the board. It was one of 33 districts to get an overall B.

Beebe had mixed results in the first study with a C in reading, an A in math and a B overall. In the latest ranking, Beebe had B’s in every category.

Lonoke has remained consistent with C’s in all areas in the first study and the same in the latest ranking. Lonoke was one of 58 districts to get an overall C.
PCSSD also had C’s in every area in the 2004-2005 study, but in the latest analysis scored a D in math, a C in reading and a
C- overall. The district was one of 25 districts to receive a C-.

The study also showed a relationship between the percent of single-parent families, students on free or reduced lunch, and parents’ education and the district’s grade. There was also a correlation between teacher pay and grades.

The more students on free or reduced lunch, in other words, low-income status, the worse the grade was for the district.

Districts receiving an A averaged 48 percent of their students on free or reduced lunch, while districts receiving an F were at 95 percent.

Again, in districts with the higher grades, there were fewer single-parent households. Districts with A’s had about 10 percent single-parent families compared to 19 percent in districts receiving F’s.

About 87 percent of parents in the top districts had a high school education compared with 68 percent in the failing districts.

In districts receiving A’s, 23 percent of the parents had a four-year college degree compared to 10 percent in the failing districts.

Also, in most cases, the higher the teacher pay, the better the districts’ scores. In districts receiving A’s, the average teacher pay was $47,980, but in failing districts, the average pay was $42,201. However, the most underpaid teachers, at $39,035, worked in districts receiving an overall D+.

Arkansas Policy Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that analyzes the impact of public policy on Arkansas and makes recommendations.

The foundation emphasizes the importance of tax policy and education reform.

In the arena of education reform, the group, according to its Web site, seeks intellectual honesty and complete openness in reporting the lack of academic progress in Arkansas’ school system.

SPORTS >> A new coach gets first look at new team

Leader sportswriter

The Rick Russell era of North Pulaski football began with a pair of hard-fought scrimmages against Greenbrier and Pulaski Robinson, and ended with a scary arm injury to sophomore running back Derrick Hart.

“There’s some things to build on,” said Russell, a long-time defensive coordinator at Jacksonville High who took over for Tony Bohannon in the spring. “There are things we will have to correct, but overall I thought it was a good night for us. After we watch the film, we will have more positives and negatives to address.”

The Falcons trailed 6-0 late in the scrimmage against Robinson when linebacker Vinnie Osmun recovered a Senator fumble.

Hart gave the Falcons a spark, breaking for an eight-yard run, followed by a 12-yard run on a pitch left. They called his number again, but on an off-tackle run, Hart’s right arm made contact with a Robinson player’s face. The game was called with just over a minute left, and Hart was taken to a nearby hospital, where he had 25 stitches put in just below his elbow. He is expected to be out for at least two weeks.

“That was a very scary situation,” said Russell. “It could have been a lot worse. You always worry about exposing the joint or infection, but Children’s Hospital did a good job of getting that young man patched up.” Hart returned to school the following day on Tuesday.

The Falcons moved the ball well in their first scrimmage against Greenbrier, picking up 172 yards. But the Falcons were able to turn that into only one score on a 62-yard sprint down the right sideline by Darrius Washington.

Washington also had big plays on the defensive side. The Panthers moved the ball methodically out of the spread, going on a 14-play drive starting at their own 30 on their first possession, but Washington pulled down an interception in the end zone to stop the threat. A fumble gave the ball right back to Greenbrier, which then scored on a halfback draw from 22 yards out.

Junior Billy Barron had four runs for 20 yards from his fullback position, but it was the defensive side where he came up big.

Barron had eight tackles including two for no gain.

“He’s an aggressive young man, and he likes to make contact,” said Russell. “For a big fellow, he moves well. I was proud of what Billy did.”

The Panthers added two scores in the second half on passes of 53 yards and 16 yards. The 16-yard strike came in the final two minutes on fourth and 11.

The Falcons found moving the ball more difficult against Robinson’s physical defense. Penalties and high snaps also counted against them, as North Pulaski finished with 57 yards of offense.

Robinson scored the only touchdown of the second scrimmage on its first drive of the second half. The Senators went 72 yards on 10 plays, and eventually punched it in from one-yard out.

Sophomore quarterback Shyheim Barron displayed maturity on the field. He went 6 of 7 passing for 35 yards, and fell on a pair of snap miscues to avoid turnovers. His biggest play of the night, however, was early in the first scrimmage when he broke free for a 26-yard keeper.

“He got a lot of game-time experience,” said Russell. “You improve the most from your first game to your second game, and he was able to get a lot of reps out there.”

Senior Marshall Shipley saw time under center near the end of each scrimmage.

Darius Cage made a pair of stops in the first scrimmage against Greenbrier, while sophomore Nick Dunn turned in a solid defensive effort against Robinson.

Russell said he was also pleased with the effort from senior receiver/cornerback Arlando Hicks, who had five receptions for 32 yards and broke up a pass in the end zone against Greenbrier.

SPORTS >> Rivalry week kicks off with a few laughs

Leader sportswriter

It was a tailgate party coaches and players could actually attend.

With just over a week to go before the season-opening, “Backyard Brawl” between Cabot and Jacksonville, key figures from both teams gathered Monday for a cookout and press conference hosted by sponsor First Arkansas Bank and Trust in Cabot.

As Arkansas’ first televised high school football game, “The Backyard Brawl,” which takes place Tuesday at Cabot’s Panther Stadium, is guaranteed to make history, and history was on Cabot coach Mike Malham’s mind as he discussed the long-time rivalry with the Red Devils.

“It has swung both ways,” Malham said, noting the population shifts that have allowed Cabot to overtake Jacksonville in size and force the schools, who once played in the same conference, into different athletic classifications.

Cabot will play another year in the 7A-Central Conference and Jacksonville is in the smaller, 6A-East. However, the schools are slated to reunite after a round of reclassification next year.

In his press conference remarks, Malham recalled how Cabot and Jacksonville used to meet in the last week of the season when both played in the 5A-East during the 1990s.

“It always came down to Jacksonville and Cabot,” Malham said. “Half those games were for all the marbles.”

Cabot won the first Backyard Brawl 41-15 at Jacksonville’s Jan Crow Stadium last year, and Jacksonville Coach Mark Whatley doesn’t expect things to get easier on Cabot’s home turf.

“It’s always a tough battle when you come over here and play the University of Cabot,” Whatley said jokingly of Cabot’s size and modernized facilities. “But we’re excited about coming over and playing in a lovely place and playing on a lovely field with lovely fans. We’ll bring our lovely fans and our football team and we’ll get it on.”

Malham, who has been at Cabot since 1981, was a Jacksonville assistant when Whatley was a senior player for the Red Devils in the 1970s. The two recalled beating Cabot during that era, something only Whatley wants to see happen Tuesday.

“We’d definitely like to take this thing back,” Whatley said glancing at the traveling trophy won by Cabot last year. “That’s what we’re coming over here to do.”

The Jacksonville contingent, which included Whatley, athletic director Jerry Wilson and players Doug Sprouse, Nick Nowden and Jacob Hicks, arrived first on Monday.

“We like to call it a friendly rivalry,” Wilson said. “When we’re not playing them we’re rooting for them.”

The Cabot group included Malham, athletic director Johnny White, quarterback Seth Bloomberg, linebacker Spencer Neumann and members of the cheer and dance teams. They arrived in the midst of all the red and white looking out of place in a green school van, and Malham joked about the paint job as he and the players, wearing their school color, red and white jerseys, got out.

“A green van for Cabot,” Malham said.

Bloomberg carried the traveling trophy, which is crowned with a football. That seemed fitting, since, as the quarterback, Bloomberg will be handling the ball almost every offensive play and is one of just two returning starters on offense.

“We would like to keep it here but there are no guarantees,” Malham said of the trophy.

Despite the new faces, Cabot is considered the favorite to repeat as the 7A-Central champion, but Malham said the proof would have to come on the field.

“We haven’t proved a thing yet,” he said.

Whatley is entering his fifth season at Jacksonville and noted, for the first time, the Red Devils have enough talent that players shouldn’t have to play both ways.

“That’s going to make a big difference, we hope,” Whatley said.

As for the hoopla surrounding the historic television broadcast — the game will air on KARZ-TV Channel 42 — Whatley said that should only liven things up more.

“It’s got to be a plus,” Whatley said. “A Cabot-Jacksonville game, there’s electricity every year. It’s just going to add to it.”

SPORTS >> Coach gets just what he wants out of scrimmage

Leader sportswriter

Jacksonville stuck to coach Mark Whatley’s script in more ways than one Saturday.

Not only did the Red Devils accomplish the coach’s checklist of plays during the Red and White scrimmage at Jan Crow Stadium but, with a handful of key players injured, they also avoided further harm.

“If we all got out of that healthy, I got my goals met tonight,” Whatley said. “Those things, they scare you. It’s like I try to tell them ‘If you play hard, you won’t get hurt.’ We played hard tonight.”

Whatley was forced to hold out defensive tackle Reggie Crudup and linebacker Don Crutchfield. Both have knee injuries and Jacksonville is awaiting the results of the players’ MRIs.

The Red Devils were also without senior wide receiver/defensive back Devin Featherston, who could miss anywhere from two to eight weeks because of a high ankle sprain.

“We need to get everybody healthy and get back going in the right direction,” Whatley said.

Featherston’s absence Saturday may have been the most conspicuous, because he might be the only player on Whatley’s extensive roster who could see action on both sides of the ball.

“He allows us to stretch the field a little bit more than we could tonight,” Whatley said.

Even with the injuries, Whatley had enough players to pit his offensive starters against his defensive first team and to throw his second-string offense against his backup defense.

Whatley hopes the specialization pays dividends when the Red Devils open 6A-East Conference play at Mountain Home on Sept. 25.

“That’s the first time since I’ve been here we’ve been able to do that,” said Whatley, entering his fifth season. “That’s a plus.

That’s one of those things you fight back and forth with. Hopefully it’s going to pay off by conference time where we’re going one way and we learn from our mistakes and get better.”

On Saturday, the Red Devils played four segments in which the defense appeared for the most part to have the upper hand while the offense chipped in the occasional big play.

“We didn’t even keep chains. We scripted everything,” Whatley said. “There was no down and distance. … We stayed pretty basic. Very basic.”

The first segment ended when sophomore defensive back D’Vone McClure hit junior Jon Johnson and forced a fumble after a completion of more than 20 yards from junior quarterback Logan Perry. Senior linebacker Joey Gates had the fumble recovery.

The backups posted the first score when, in the second segment, sophomore quarterback Tirrell Brown hit McClure, who out- jumped a defender for the catch that he turned into a touchdown play of more than 40 yards.

The starters were on the field for the final two segments. Perry connected with Johnson for a 40-yard gain on a swing pass to end the third segment and account for the offense’s last big play of the night.

Gates opened the fourth segment by sacking Perry, then Kenny Cummings had an over-the-shoulder interception of Perry’s long attempt to Price Eubanks on the next play.

The only other offensive big play was the 20-yard completion from Brown to McClure that opened the second segment.

No other play gained more than 10 yards and the scrimmage ended with a three-yard carry by senior running back Doug Sprouse out of the wildcat formation.

“The biggest thing they did is they tackled a lot better than they have leading up to tonight,” Whatley said of his defense. “We felt like they could. Another good sign is you see that many people running to the football. They had a lot of hats around the football and that’s a good thing because we feel like we have a chance to be pretty good on that side.”

The offense gave up its one sack and Perry was hurried on a blitz in the first segment, but otherwise, Whatley said, the offensive highlight was the protection.

“I thought our offensive line held up pretty good,” Whatley said. “They did a pretty good job. We’ve got to space the field better.”

All in all, Whatley said, the scrimmage went just as it was drawn up.

“It kind of turned out kind of like we expected it to,” he said.

SPORTS >> Elder Moyer bests son at O’Reilly topless

Leader sportswriter

Two generations of ‘Smooth’ highlighted the O’Reilly Mid South Racing Association’s final trip to Beebe Speedway in 2009.

Batesville drivers swept the top-three finishing spots in the 30-lap topless late- model feature, with Billy ‘Mr. Smooth’ Moyer and son Billy Moyer, Jr., also known as ‘Kid Smooth,’ battling for the race lead for the first 18 circuits. But April winner Wendell Wallace finally played spoiler to the father-son battle.

Moyer, Sr. held on despite a near-flat right rear tire to collect the $2,000 top prize, while Wallace settled for second. The younger Moyer extended his points lead with a solid third-place effort.

Moyer, Sr. started on the outside of the front row alongside fast qualifier and July winner Jon Kirby of Russellville. It didn’t take long for the former national super late-model champion to take the lead, as Moyer out-powered Kirby into the first turn.

Moyer, Jr., who started third, got around Kirby for second on lap five and set his sights on dad.

By lap eight, Moyer, Jr. was all over the back bumper of his dad’s familiar J and J Steel 21 car. He had a couple of looks off the exit of turn two, but his better-handling race car couldn’t make up for the years of experience he was surrendering.

“It doesn’t get any more fun than that,” said Moyer, Jr. “I think we had a better car than he did; he’s just a better driver, of course. That was a lot of fun running with him. I got up to his left-rear tire a couple of times, but I could never get right there beside him.”

For Moyer, Sr., it was the second MSRA win of the season in only three appearances.

“It makes it neat to be able to race with him,” said Moyer, Sr. “He’s learned a lot. He’s come on strong this last year, so I’m sure he’s going to be putting it on the old man here real soon.”

A total of 29 cars representing six states turned out for the MSRA’s third and final race at the sandy-clay quarter miler. Kirby took top-qualifier honors with his run from the back to the front to win the second heat, while Wallace, Moyer, Jr. and Louisiana standout Ray Moore won the other heats.

Missouri driver Randy Mitchell and Broken Bow, Oklahoma’s Gary Christian earned the two MSRA provisional spots.

The previous two MSRA events at Beebe went caution free, but a three-car pileup on lap four between Dewaine Hottinger, Clay Fisher and Brian Ritchie brought out the only caution of the race Friday. The scariest moment of the night came when Trumann driver Ian Samuel’s 86 B machine suffered a blown engine down the backstretch. Flames shot out from under the hood as Samuel came to a standstill, but track workers were able to contain the problem and get Samuel safely out of the car.

The crowd got on its feet when Moyer, Jr.’s 21 JR machine tried to pull even with the 21 car of Moyer, Sr. on lap eight. Junior tried the same move one lap later, and got up to his father’s door panel before Moyer, Sr. pulled back ahead.

The back-and-forth battle for the lead allowed fifth-place starter Wallace to catch up to the Moyers by lap 15. Moyer, Jr. moved up high in an attempt to keep Wallace behind him, but the Batesville veteran made his way around on the inside for second.

Wallace made a strong charge for Moyer, Sr. in the final 10 laps, but lap traffic held him off.

“I guess he was right on me there,” said Moyer. “We had a flat right rear tire going on there, so we’re lucky we made it to the end. Up to that point, the car was okay. I saw him up there beside me that one time, so we tried to hold our line and not overshoot the corner.”

Trumann’s Kyle Beard came into Friday’s race trailing Moyer, Jr. by 80 points in the MSRA season standings, but an ill-handling car dropped him to a ninth-place finish, the first car a lap down. Moyer, Jr. made the most of Beard’s misfortune with his 11th top five of the season through 16 events.

“That’s exactly what I needed,” said Moyer, Jr. “We ran third, so hopefully we got a little bit bigger points lead now. We’ve got to have all the cushion we can so if we blow up or wreck one night, or the driver makes an error, we have a little lead way now.”

Moyer, Jr., now in his fourth season in a super late, has enjoyed a breakout season in 2009 with two MSRA wins and a season-long grip on the points lead.

“Finally! We have the best car possible and the best engines now,” he said. “We’re expected to run up front. We shouldn’t be back there running eighth or ninth in the consi (B-main). We’ve got a couple of wins here this year and it’s definitely going to be a breakout year, we just need to get in the win category some more. We’ve got a boatload of top fives, but we need some more wins.”

Kirby held on to finish fourth, while Walnut Ridge veteran Jeff Floyd came from the seventh starting spot to round out the top five.

It was Moyer, Sr.’s first trip back to Beebe in two decades, and the first topless late model race in the track’s history.

“I don’t know that it makes any different characteristics of the car, but you can see better,” said Moyer. “I kind of like it without it on there, really. You can see a little better, and the wind comes through better.”

Texas driver Jon Mitchell was sixth, followed by Eric Turner in seventh and two-time defending MSRA champ Joey Mack in eighth. Beard was ninth with Moore completing the top ten.

SPORTS >> Panthers, Wolves get in tune

Leader sportswriter

Cabot and Lake Hamilton got the benefits from Monday’s benefit game.

But they also got a scare.

The teams scrimmaged for close to two hours and 30 minutes at Panther Stadium, but at least 20 minutes were spent tending to injured Lake Hamilton senior safety Cab Sanders.

Sanders reportedly suffered a concussion, but the injury looked for a time to be more serious as he lay still on the field while trainers, emergency personnel and paramedics treated him. He was eventually taken away in an ambulance.

Sanders, 5-9, 160 pounds, was hurt attempting a tackle early in Cabot’s third offensive possession. He remained on his back while trainers gave him immediate treatment, followed by Cabot Fire and Rescue personnel and then the paramedics who arrived with the ambulance that took Sanders to Baptist Medical Center in North Little Rock.

Sanders’ face mask was removed while his helmet was left on, and his body was immobilized for transport. But Sanders was moving his hands and feet and was expected to stay at the hospital overnight for observation.

“They’re pretty sure it was a head injury or a concussion which is always scary,” Lake Hamilton coach Jerry Clay said. “I don’t think there was any spinal thing. It’s always a precaution. Anytime you have a head injury these days they’re going to immobilize him.”

In a game set up to help both teams, the coaches agreed the injury was unfortunate and expressed their relief Sanders wasn’t hurt worse.

“You can’t live life wondering if you’re going to get hurt every day,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “That’s part of life. I didn’t really see it. They said that he got his head down a little bit and a knee caught him. But he was moving everything and I think he just had a concussion so, hopefully, there’s nothing wrong there.”

“It’s part of football, I guess. The chance you take,” Clay said.

Outside of Sanders’ injury, both coaches considered the game a success.

The event gave Lake Hamilton, which plays in the 6A-South Conference and has fewer numbers than 7A-Central member
Cabot, a chance to test and evaluate its first team. The game gave Cabot what will probably be its last, in-depth tune-up before Tuesday’s season-opener with Jacksonville.

Cabot has a Red-White game scheduled for Friday, but Malham is expected to hold out or limit his starters because of the televised Tuesday game.

“We got a lot of plays and maybe they grew up a little bit,” Malham said of his players.

Clay said it was good to see offense and defense in a game situation. Lake Hamilton doesn’t have a Cabot-sized roster, and that sometimes makes it hard to gauge progress during practice scrimmages, Clay said.

“As you can see our second team could never give our first team any kind of look,” Clay said. “Just like we weren’t giving Cabot’s second team a look. It was a complete mismatch when our second team went against their second team. We haven’t been able to run defense because our second team offense is so weak. We couldn’t put in a scout team.”

The teams alternated 15-play possessions but the count did not include punts and field goals.

The scoreboard was used to keep tack of each team’s plays, but if it had counted points it would have shown a 44-36 Cabot victory thanks to the final Red Zone segment in which Spencer Smith, Spencer Neumann and Hunter Sales all scored on short runs.

Lake Hamilton opened the game with a drive capped by Jordan Brown’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Rains. The Wolves added an 18-yard field goal by Brett Miller before using up their first 15-play allotment.

Cabot scored when Seth Bloomberg hit Matt Sayles for a 39-yard catch and run. Lake Hamilton used all of its next 15 plays to get a 1-yard touchdown run out of Chris Jones, then Cabot came back with a 4-yard scoring run by Jeremy Berry.

Perhaps the most impressive play of the night was the 46-yard field goal Cabot’s Logan Spry kicked with distance to spare at the end of Cabot’s second segment. Spry added 27- and 18-yard field goals on the Panthers’ next two possessions and made all of his extra-point attempts.

“And he’s playing D-back,” Malham said. “I don’t know. I hope we don’t get him hurt at D-back, then we lose a great kicker.

But he runs a 4.5 40 and we kid of like him back in the secondary.”

Rains had a 3-yard touchdown run for Lake Hamilton to wrap up the main body of the scrimmage. Brown ran for one touchdown and passed for another during the Wolves’ Red Zone segment, while both extra-point kicks failed.

Malham was pleased with the Panthers’ overall performance but concerned about some of the big plays made against his defense, like the 36- and 40-yard completions that set up Lake Hamilton touchdowns.

“I just though we’d be sharper, I really did,” Malham said. “We’ve just got a lot of work to do. They do a lot of formations and different looks and we didn’t really practice for this. This was more or less a practice. That’s why I like playing in these, you see a lot of formations so we’ve got to get used to lining up right.”