Saturday, September 10, 2011

SPORTS>>Panthers can’t cover Bruin kicks, fall by 30

Leader sports editor

Score, cover on-side kick, repeat. That was the formula for Pulaski Academy Friday night at Panther Stadium, and it worked to perfection. The Bruins scored four touchdowns before Cabot snapped the ball. With 8:35 still left in the first quarter, Pulaski Academy led 29-0, and eventually took a 64-34 decision over the Panthers.

When Cabot finally covered an onside kick, it ran four plays and gave the ball back on downs. Two of the plays were certain touchdowns had the passes not been overthrown. PA put 11 in the box and bothered not to cover any receivers, but the throws were not there.

Once PA got the ball back, it took five plays to score again, taking a 36-0 lead with 6:08 left in the first period.

Again Cabot got the ball, but again it failed to get a first down. This time, the Panther defense held. On the next play, halfback Weston Conard went 38 yards and Cabot finally got on the board. The extra point made it 36-7 with 2:18 left in the first quarter.

Cabot then covered a PA fumble on the kickoff, and took just two plays to make it 36-14 with 1:31 left in the first.

The first-quarter scoring was not over though. Cabot tried its own on-side kick and failed to cover. PA needed just one play to score again. Junior Cody Adcock took a handoff up the middle for 49 yards and the score, making it 43-14 with 1:21 still remaining in the first quarter.

Yet again, Academy covered an onside kick, and drove eight plays to score again, making it 50-14 with 9:44 left in the half.

Cabot scored on its next possession, a nine-play, 77-yard drive that almost stalled inside the 10. On fourth and goal from the 9-yard line, Craig found Conard in the flat for the score with 4:40 left in the half. The Cabot defense held on the Bruins’ next possession and the two teams went into half with Pulaski Academy leading 50-20.

Cabot got the ball to start the second half, and scored on the first play when Conard picked up the fumble-rooskie and took it 51 yards for the score that made it 50-27. The hope didn’t last long. PA scored again, got another onside kick and scored again. With less than two minutes gone in the second half, it was 64-27, and the mercy rule clock began.

Cabot scored again with 7:49 left in the game to set the final margin.

“They’ve got a good scheme on those onside kicks,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “We practiced for it quite a bit, but I don’t know, it looked like our kids kind of froze and didn’t know what to do.”

In all, PA covered five onside kicks, and scored after each one.

“When we had the ball we were able to move it on them pretty good,” Malham said. “Maybe we could’ve changed things a little bit if we had connected on those passes where we had the guys wide open. But I don’t know. You look out there, there’s no doubt who had more talent on the field.”

Pulaski Academy finished with 620 total yards to 323 for Cabot.

Bruin quarterback Fredi Knighten finished with 365 yards passing and five touchdowns, connecting on 22 of 26 attempts. He also ran for 138 yards and two scores on nine carries, none of which were called run plays. Cabot’s defensive front got into the Bruin backfield a lot, but couldn’t catch the fleet-footed Division I prospect.

Cabot halfback Weston Conard led the Panthers with 122 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. He also had two receptions for 33 yards and score, giving him 155 total yards and three touchdowns.

The first two missed passes were the only ones for Craig. He finished five of seven for 89 yards and two touchdowns.

The Panthers, 1-1, will travel to Springdale next week for their first road game against Har-Ber High.

SPORTS>>Panthers drop two matches this week

Leader sports editor

The only thing worse for a young volleyball team than getting blown out at home in a 7A Central match, is playing one on the road closely, only to have questionable officiating determine the outcome. Both happened to the Cabot Lady Panthers this week. On Tuesday, Cabot hosted highly-touted and tradition-rich Conway. The young Lady Panthers were overmatched and fell 25-12, 25-10 and 25-16.

“We’re steadily progressing and I think we went up a level overall this week, but we’re still just not on the level with Conway yet,” Cabot coach Deanna Campbell said.

On Thursday at Bryant, the Lady Panthers were not in it early, dropping the first game 25-9. They regrouped and battled throughout the next games, but lost both by scores of 27-25 and 25-22.

In both games, Cabot was on thewrong side of some crucial calls. Most of the calls in question were by the Bryant junior varsity player who was line judge on the Cabot side of the court.It’s common practice for a home-team player to act as line judge in a match, but volleyball is the only Arkansas Activity Association sport in which not only students, but players from one of the teams competing, can be an official.

Things usually go off without a hitch. Thursday’s game did not.

Every call that fell to the line judge on Cabot’s side, was called in. But it wasn’t just the line judge that missed things. Match point for Bryant was an obvious infraction. A Lady Hornet reached over the net and blocked a set attempt by Cabot. Of course, with sets rarely blocked, since crossing the net is an infraction, no one from Cabot was prepared to dig the block like they would have been for a blocked hit. The ball went straight down the floor on Cabot’s side, match point for Bryant.

“That one was not easy to swallow,” Campbell said. “By the third game I told them to start playing out balls. We had to because they were calling them in. And then for it to end the way it did was difficult to swallow.”

Still, Campbell says there were things her team could have done better that could have changed the outcome.

“We did not start well,” Campbell said. “We have not established a consistent level of game speed with this group. I think because we are so young, it takes us a game to see the speed and then get matched up to that. We’ve been trying to find ways to simulate the speed they play in this conference in practice. We’ve got to figure out some way to get them at that speed before they take the floor.”

It was the second-straight road match in which Cabot did not compete well in game one, then came back and battled to close finishes the rest of the match. That, in itself, is a good sign according to Campbell.

“It is good because it shows they don’t worry about what just happened and they keep playing to win,” Campbell said. “Some teams might get beat 25-9 in game one and just decide it can’t win. This group does not quit and has shown a pretty good ability to keep looking forward and not worry too much about the scoreboard.

Tactically, Campbell saw signs of improvement as well.

“We’ve been teaching them so much, and I started to see some of the things we’ve been teaching them take place on the floor against Bryant,” Campbell said. “Our net game and our defense went up. Bryant’s front row is pretty powerful, and we closed blocks much better and forced them to hit over us. We also were more creative at the net and weren’t just swinging away. We just learned some of those things in the past week, and they’re already implementing them in the game. So we’re making progress.”

The Lady Panthers are now 2-5 overall and 0-3 in conference. They host North Little Rock on Tuesday and travel to Little Rock Central on Thursday.

SPORTS>>Badger ladies get win from Falcons

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe Lady Badgers capitalized on their streaks of momentum, and persevered when momentum belonged to North Pulaski in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Lady Falcons in 5A Southeast Conference play at Badger Sports Arena on Tuesday.

North Pulaski (2-2, 1-2) took Games 1 and 4 handily at 25-15 each game, but the Lady Badgers (2-4, 1-1) fought for their lives to win what turned out to be the pivotal set in the second game, 28-26. They also won Game 3 25-17 before senior hitter Stephanie Pollnow led the way to a 15-11 victory in the final game.

“We had a long talk yesterday,” Beebe coach Ashley Camp said. “Our communication fails if we get behind, but it seems to get better when we’re winning. They pulled through. We’ve just been working on finishing.”

The Lady Badgers found finishing difficult at the end of the second game when North Pulaski ralliedfrom Beebe’s game point at 24-20 to tie and eventually have game point at 25-24. Pollnow tied the game at 25 with a kill, and Lesslie Colbert gave game point back to Beebe with a kill that made it 27-26 before North Pulaski hit it out on the final point.

“I told my girls that I’m proud of their heart, their character, competitiveness, spirit, attitude – it’s all there,” North Pulaski coach Ben Belton said. “Little mistakes, that’s the difference. If you make the mistakes we made, we deserve to lose.”

The Lady Falcons looked like the dominant team early on when they took an easy victory in the first game. Madison Richey was the only Lady Badger making plays at the net while a host of Lady Falcons got in on the action.

Hitter Stevie Hughes and Meagan Chargaulaf were strong at the service line with a pair of aces each, while Kelsey Whitmore had two kills at the front.

Richey and senior Emily Epperson managed to keep the Lady Badgers close until North Pulaski won the last seven points, punctuated with a big kill up the middle by Hughes on game point.

“It’s momentum. This whole game is momentum,” Belton said. “I really thought we had the momentum before we started that last set, but they made a good run. Their kids fought – their kids deserve to win.”

Game 3 was the only time things appeared easy for Beebe. The Lady Falcons rushed out to a 7-2 lead before communication fell apart, and that’s when Richey and Pollnow got to work for the Lady Badgers. Pollnow gave the lead to Beebe for the first time in the set with a kill that made it 12-11. Brittany Mitchel extended the advantage with her second kill of the match to make it 15-12, and a block by Richey stretched the gap to 17-12.

Pollnow put the Lady Badgers at game point with a kill before Richey ended it on the next point.

Pollnow was on a mission in the early stages of the final game with a block followed by two quick kills to help Beebe out to a 3-0 lead. Whitmore and Kelsey Locklin battled back for North Pulaski, but Pollnow got her third kill of the set to make it 5-1.

Colbert extended the Lady Badgers’ advantage to 8-2 with a kill assisted by junior setter Morgan Henry before Whitmore and Hughes led the comeback charge for North Pulaski.

“I was very nervous,” Camp said. “They kept me on my toes for sure. Every point was nail biting. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice, just trying to finish.”

Hughes came alive for North Pulaski with two kills and a block while Whitmore closed the gap further with two aces.

Colbert gave the Lady Badgers match point at 14-8 with a kill, but two kills for Shelby Floyd pulled North Pulaski to within 14-11. But Richey finally put an end to the two-and-a-half hour match with a kill from the left side to clinch it for Beebe.

Pollnow led the Lady Badgers with 10 kills along with a block and an ace. Richie had seven kills, one block and one ace, while Colbert had six kills and an ace. Sophomore libero Sydney Watson had four aces.

For North Pulaski, Whitmore led the way with 11 kills and three aces. Floyd added nine kills and four aces while Hughes finished with six kills, three aces and two blocks. Locklin had six kills and a block.

SPORTS>>Beebe rallies from 21 down

Leader sportswriter

Beebe overcame turnovers, penalties and bizarre clock procedures – not to mention an emotionally charged Lonoke team on the way to a 36-33 come-from-behind victory at James B. Abraham Stadium on Friday.

Lonoke junior Eric Williams gave the Jackrabbits early breathing room with a 50-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and a kickoff return for a score in the first half.

The Badgers (1-1) marched back from a three-score deficit to take their first lead of the game with 3:49 left to play when senior quarterback Dustin Stallnacker sneaked into the end zone for the winning score.

Beebe’s defense also held strong in the second half, limiting the Jackrabbits (0-2) to just 82 yards of offense through the final two quarters.

“We tried like crazy to give it away in the first quarter,” Beebe coach John Shannon said. “The very first play of the game, they bust a long one. We knew their speed was going to be an issue. It took us the whole first quarter to adjust to it.

“Offensively, we kept moving the ball up and down the field, we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. But we finally got some stuff fixed. Hats off to them, they played hard, but man, my guysnever quit.”

The Jackrabbits were playing in honor of senior teammates Justin Carpenter and Keli Bryant, who were both injured in an early-morning traffic accident during their commute to school on Friday. The team ran out from the inflatable tunnel holding the players’ jerseys up at the front of the line.

Lonoke quickly went up by two scores when junior quarterback D.J. Burton found Dra Offord up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 9:43 left in the first quarter. T.J. Scott added the point-after to make it 14-0.

Burton called his own number for Lonoke’s next score when he punched it in from a yard out with 5:18 left in the opening period. Scott’s point after gave the Jackrabbits a 21-0 margin with just over three quarters left to play, but Beebe began inching its way back during the next possession.

Senior halfback Jay Holdway got things going with a 40-yard run that gave the Badgers a first down at the Lonoke 39-yard line, and Michael Kirby took over from there with four rushes for 28 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left in the first quarter. Matt Pursell converted the point-after to make it 21-7.

Williams answered quickly for Lonoke with an 84-yard touchdown kickoff return that made it 27-7. Williams received Pursell’s kick at his own 16 and cut all the way left just before the 30-yard line to go untouched.

Beebe added another score early in the second quarter with a 10-play, 61-yard drive that ended with a two-yard off-tackle run by sophomore fullback Eric Thorn. The left side of Beebe’s offensive line, led by senior tackle Tyler Love, started pushing back Lonoke’s defense after a tough go in the first quarter.

“That’s what we’ve been expecting all year long,” Shannon said. “I felt like in the second quarter, the offensive line really established themselves. We were blowing some big holes open. We kept pounding and pounding, and they really came through tonight.”

The first half went by quickly until the final 1:35, when the clock did not run during Beebe’s final offensive play of the half. An incomplete pass from Stallnacker to Ethan Boyce on fourth-and-five at the Lonoke 25-yard line gave the ball back to Lonoke with a 27-13 lead and plenty of time left to score.

The Jackrabbits’ drive stalled at the 27 thanks in part to a holding call, and Beebe tried to call time out on third down with a second left. The clock ran to zeros, but the officials recognized the time out call and put 0.9 seconds back on the clock. Beebe tried to call another quick timeout when the clock failed to run on Lonoke’s fourth down play, but the clock went to zero again after the play was over, and the Jackrabbits headed for the field house.

Shannon voiced his displeasure to officials before heading off the field.

“I don’t want to get on record saying something,” Shannon said. “But that’s something I worry about when we’re at Beebe, because you don’t want someone walking away feeling like they weren’t treated fairly. I’m not saying we weren’t — humans make mistakes — but those are big things right there.”

Holdway led the Badgers with 17 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown, while Stallnacker added 137 yards and a score on 13 totes. Beebe finished with 473 total yards.

“He did a great job,” Shannon said of Holdway. “He was over 100 yards, and Peanut, our quarterback, he was over 100 yards. So, to have two backs go over 100 yards in one night, that’s pretty doggone good.”

For Lonoke, Williams had 11 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown while Burton added 13 carries for 68 yards, and completed 8 of 14 passes for 120 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

The Jackrabbits had 281 total yards.

Beebe will return home next week to host Vilonia while Lonoke hosts McGehee.

SPORTS>>Miscues doom the Devils

Special to The Leader

The first half was the best of the times and ultimately, the worst of times for the Jacksonville Red Devils (0-2) as they jumped out to an early lead before the wheels fell off in a 41-14 loss to the Benton Panthers 1-1) at Jan Crow Stadium Friday night.

The Red Devils looked poised early in the contest when Aaron Smith took the opening kickoff back 50 yards deep into Benton territory, giving Jacksonville great starting field position at the Panthers 30. Three plays later, Cortez Brownrumbled 10 yards to put Jacksonville up 6-0 at the 10:33 mark.

Jacksonville controlled the ball most of the first quarter while Benton sputtered early on offense. As the Second Quarter began, Benton found their identity as they put together a 14-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Dylan Harris to Desmond Mauldin, giving the Panthers a 7-6 lead.

After a three and out on their next possession, Jacksonville shanked a punt, giving Benton great field position in Red Devils territory and eventually leading to a Wallace Foote 4-yard touchdown run and a 14-6 Panthers lead with 1:28 left in the first half.

Disaster struck Jacksonville in the final moments of the first half as Benton took advantage of a mishandled punt attempt which lead to a Benton score, followed by another turnover and an 11-yard touchdown strike from Harris to Mauldin, giving the Panthers control of the contest with a 28-6 halftime lead.

“Offensively and defensively, we played pretty hard,” said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell. “After a turnover and a couple of missed tackled, (Benton) got the momentum and they started believing they could win and we started doubting, so it just snowballed downhill.”

The Red Devils attempted to fuel a comeback at the beginning of the third quarter as Benton muffed the opening kickoff and Jacksonville recovered on the Panthers 34-yard line. Tirrell Brown hit Jacarius Brown for 22-yards and found the endzone on the next play, a 12-yard touchdown to Kevin Richardson to cut the Benton lead to 28-14 with 11:26 left in the quarter.

Benton controlled the clock much of the quarter and added two field goals in the fourth quarter to put the contest out of reach.

“We have to stay in the ballgame both physically and mentally for the full 48 minutes,” added Russell. “When a sudden change occurs, we have to find a way to get over that and come back ready to play the next possession.”

On the evening Benton quarterback Dylan Harris passed 235-yards, with 19 completions on 34 attempts. Running back Wallace Foote lead the ground attack with 69 yards on 18 carries while Red Devils quarterback Tirrell Brown managed 115 yards through the air. Kevin Richardson was Brown’s favorite target as the junior flanker hauled in five receptions for 65 yards and a score.

“We have to start believing in ourselves for more than a quarter, it has to be for a full game,” added Russell. “We have to stay true to our game plan, out blocking assignments and pass routes while polishing some things up. We have to work on the negatives and not get down on ourselves.”

Jacksonville tries to improve on a slow start to the 2011 campaign when they host the Hot Springs Trojans next Friday night with a 7 p.m. kickoff.

Friday, September 09, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Tomorrow’s Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and the national capital, “the day that changed America,” in the lexicon of the times. No single event in the last century other than Pearl Harbor seared the national consciousness more indelibly or altered the nation’s destiny more profoundly. The great national exercise this week is to assay exactly how it changed America. A single decade offers opportunity only for the hastiest of historical judgments, but there have been plenty of those, to which we add ours.

Two years after the attacks, Osama bin Laden famously declared his purpose to have been “bleeding America into bankruptcy,” and there is a widely held conclusion that he succeeded in that and in his goal of undermining the country’s cherished freedoms. This gives him far more credit than he deserves, but there is a small measure of truth in it. After all, the U.S. government was “only” $5.8 trillion in debt on Sept. 11, 2001, and the debt now stands at more than $14.4 trillion. One analysis of the spending that grew directly from 9/11 puts it at $3.3 trillion and growing, which is 40 percent of our post-9/11 debt increase. The figure includes the direct costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the care of veterans, the concomitant defense buildup and the vast growth of the homeland security apparatus, which now includes 1,271 government agencies and nearly 2,000 outside contractors.

When they talk of the debt crisis, our national obsession this year, they cannot ignore the elephant in the room, that stupendous effort to make the country safe once again. The other big cause, the financial collapse of 2007-’08 and recession, may prove just as intractable.

Only in the past five years have we as a nation had misgivings that our leaders overreacted and blundered in addressing our discovery on that bright September day that we were not invulnerable anywhere. Sure enough, the political leaders blundered, but the great national consensus after 9/11 made it possible, even easy.

The government blundered both in Afghanistan and Iraq. We have learned in the past 18 months what we should have done in the days after 9/11: go after bin Laden and his small band of terrorists and destroy them. Instead, 9/11 became an opportunity to carry out the central goal of the militarists in the new government, chiefly Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, who had spelled it out in the 1998 manifesto of the Project for the New American Century: Conquer and install pro-American regimes in central Arab countries to project American influence in the oil-rich Middle East.

So instead of going after the 9/11 plotters, President Bush demanded that the flimsy Taliban government in Afghanistan—the people President Reagan had once called “freedom fighters” when they were harassing the Soviet rulers—capture bin Laden and his followers in the eastern mountains and turn them over to us. The Taliban couldn’t and wouldn’t, which provided the premise for the war to overthrow the government. That accomplished in 2002, we turned our attention to Cheney’s real objective, the invasion and conquering of Iraq and its corrupt ruler, Saddam Hussein, an enemy we happened to share with al Qaeda. His reputed ownership of “weapons of mass destruction” was the excuse, but the dictator was equated with bin Laden. We all wanted to be safe from Saddam as well—polls showed that most Americans were convinced in 2003 that Iraq was behind 9/11 because Cheney said it probably was--so the war was a popular and nearly bipartisan undertaking until the administration’s perfidy was revealed and the cost in blood and treasure mounted.

It is far less clear whether the rest of that vast commitment of money and ingenuity, the part to make our cities, skies and ports safe once again, paid off. We clearly are a safer nation, owing if nothing else to the slaughter of bin Laden, his lieutenants and fighters over the past 18 months in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The organization has been decimated and demoralized and its standing in the Muslim world demolished. Although global terrorism has hardly been weakened, the element of it singularly dedicated to harming the United States and Great Britain, which bin Laden viewed as Islam’s and the Middle East’s great enemy, has been quieted.

The construction of a massive national security regime, in law and on the ground, has lowered though not eliminated the risk of a cataclysmic attack on American soil. One plot after another has been stymied—some 22 major plots have been identified--and we can only hope that tomorrow will pass with that conclusion still intact. Lone wolves like those who shot soldiers at Fort Hood and Little Rock may be unstoppable. Chiefly, what is different starting the hour of the 9/11 attacks is the heightened sensitivity of the government to the threat. We will always be left to wonder if things might have been different if President Bush, only six months in office, had paid attention to the security briefing where he was told of a plot to crash airliners.

The other question that yet lingers for the judgment of history is whether 9/11 altered American values and sacrificed traditional freedoms in the search for safety. The disclosures of torture at Abu Graib and at the secret locations of “extraordinary renditions” cost us dearly around the world, crucially in the Middle East, but have we lost some of our own freedoms to the internal security apparatus. Anyone who has flown on a commercial airliner would answer yes, though perhaps most of us may say that safety is worth such invasions of personal privacy and convenience. Unless you are in a suspect class you may never be aware of other intrusions authorized by the Patriot Act and the missions of those 1,271 government agencies.

From the vantage point and safety of the 10th anniversary, Americans should demand of the political leaders that they correct what is foreseeably wrong and fixable with the post-9/11 policies, starting with the orderly departure from Iraq and Afghanistan and a review of the Patriot Act and the vast intrusions of government assumed in the name of security but never to be surrendered until people demand it. —Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY > >Drunk driver put behind bars after failing breath test

Leader staff writer

After a recent breath test found his blood-alcohol level to be 0.03, a Little Rock man who was sentenced in June to Sherwood’s yearlong sobriety court is being held in the county jail without bail because of his previous run-ins with the law.

Benjamin Swindoll, 21, of Little Rock was convicted in 2009 of negligent homicide in the death of 17-year-old Nikki Powell. She was killed in a car crash. He was the drug-impaired driver.

The breath test was part of Swindoll’s requirements as a participant in the Sherwood sobriety court program.

He has been enrolled in numerous other treatment programs and the Powell family has had enough.

“It’s time for him to pay the piper. He needs to be held accountable. He needs to go to prison,” said Rocky Powell, Nikki’s father who now lives in California. Powell also explained that he knows how addiction works because he was employed at a treatment facility in California for many years.

“What I’m really upset about is they’re not doing anything to him. The judge gave him yet another chance to get treatment. When you offer a person opportunity after opportunity, there comes a point when you have to say ‘you don’t want treatment then you will be incarcerated.’ It’s apparent by his (Swindoll’s) actions that he doesn’t want help.”

Powell’s fear is that Swindoll will hurt himself or someone else because of his addiction to alcohol and drugs. He also noted the painful irony that since his daughter’s death, Swindoll has been in trouble every year on Nikki’s birthday, which was Wednesday.

Prosecutors claim Swindoll violated the conditions of his suspended sentence from the homicide conviction when his breath test showed the presences of alcohol in his system.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson agreed.

He ruled that Swindoll could be released from jail pending a revocation hearing only if he checks into an inpatient treatment program. An Oct. 25 hearing has been set to determine whether he has violated the conditions of his suspended prison sentence.

Powell is concerned that Swindoll will be back in a treatment program in a few days. He lamented that offenders who-negligently-kill others in drug or alcohol-related cases in Arkansas usually spend less than 15 months behind bars.

Swindoll pled guilty to the homicide charge and drug possession in 2009. His 10-year sentence was suspended to nine months in a drug-treatment program.

A few weeks after Powell’s death, Swindoll was arrested for public intoxication while celebrating spring break in Florida. Three weeks after being released from custody, Swindoll was arrested again, this time on a driving under the influence charge after he was caught traveling at 119 mph on I-430 near Colonel Glenn.

He was not sent to prison to serve the suspended sentence because of a clerical error; he didn’t sign a form that stated the conditions of the suspended sentence.

Sherwood’s sobriety court also took action, leveling a 24-hour jail sentence.

“I believe this program (sobriety court) would have been successful (for him),” said Sherwood District Judge Butch Hale. “We have to expect setbacks. You’re dealing with a lifelong addiction that you can’t cure in a few weeks.”

Hale also explained that those in the program are told not to use mouthwash and that using mouthwash could lead to a breath test finding a blood alcohol level of 0.03.

He doesn’t know the details of Swindoll’s slip-up. He couldn’t say how well Swindoll had done in the program because he had not been present at the defendant’s last meeting at the court.

The first 90 days of the sobriety court program require an offender to attend an AA-equivalent meeting everyday. The court meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesday every two weeks to review the offender’s progress. There are four 90-day phases in the yearlong program. Requirements gradually decrease as the offender nears completion of the program.

Offenders are tested for drugs and alcohol two to three times every week and are required to attend a certain number of individual and group counseling sessions.

Swindoll was arrested after he was caught driving 119 mph in Sherwood and blew a 0.08 blood alcohol level. Hale fined him $1320 ($920 for his first DWI and $300 for speeding) and sentenced him to community service and a year in jail.

The jail time was suspended in favor of the sobriety court, one of three federally funded programs in the state.

The sobriety court is usually reserved for those who have three or more DWI charges, but Swindoll was an exception because of his history with substance abuse.

TOP STORY > >Disaster is declared for farmers in state after drought, rain

Special to the Leader

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsac Sept. 8 declared all 75 counties as agriculture natural disaster areas, eligible for low-interest emergency loans, but the man who administers the program locally urges farmers to apply early because the money could run out.

“Our fiscal year starts Oct. 1, but with budget cuts, it’s imperative to file expeditiously in fall and early spring,” according to Mark Petty, farm loan manager for the Lonoke Farm Service Agency. Petty oversees emergency loans for Pulaski, Prairie and Monroe as well as Lonoke counties. “We’ve been under disaster proclamations for the last three years,” Petty said, “but this year we’ve had back-to-back, continuing disaster from spring to September.”

Gov. Mike Beebe asked for the disaster declarations in July to help farmers who have suffered this year variously from floods, drought, heat, hail and high winds.

The filing deadline is May 7, 2012 to qualify for the 3.75 percent emergency loans.

The agency doesn’t know how much money will be available for loans yet, he said.

Qualification for loans de-pends on a farmer’s yield-per-acre for each crop, multiplied by the number of acres planted. That’s compared to the farmer’s yield for 2008-2010.

One problem for Arkansas farmers is that natural disasters have reduced yields for many farmers in each of those years as well, meaning this year’s shortfall may not be that great when compared.

To qualify, the yield on a crop must be off at least 30 percent, according to Petty.

“We’ve had a big hit,” said Lonoke County Chief Extension Agent Jeff Welch. “The heat itself has probably reduced grain yields from 10 percent to 20 percent, judging from the yields coming off the fields.

“Fields that produced 185-190 bushels per acre last year -- now those same fields grow 155 to 160 bushels per acre, even well-irrigated fields.

“Rice yields are below par by 10 or 15 percent,” he said, because of hot days and also high night time temperatures and panicle blight.

Row crops aren’t the only problems. Many pastures dried up, as did hayfields.

The heat stresses the dairy cows, which then produce less milk. Cattle operations are suffering too. Many producers will have to buy hay to feed over the winter and calves that should have been putting on one to one-and-a-half pounds per day are putting on as little as a quarter of a pound per day because of the heat.

He said that so far there hadn’t been much of a cattle sell off because recent rains have created forage, but they will have to buy more expensive hay for cows they keep to overwinter.

High temperatures have also hurt the cotton crop. The lower cotton bolls are putting on fiber but the upper ones have been retarded. Cotton farmers should be defoliating and picking cotton by now, but they are waiting for the top bolls to fill out, Welch said.

Because farmers in counties adjacent to those declared eligible for agriculture disaster relief are also eligible, 36 parishes and counties in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas are also eligible, according to Petty.

TOP STORY > >Good times roll at Cajun eatery

Leader staff writer

When Don Pastor was looking to move his restaurant to Arkansas from the Texas-Louisiana coast, he pondered four locations: Rogers, Fayetteville, Conway and Jacksonville.

How did Jacksonville beat out the other possible locations for Cayenne Cajun Cuisine?

Pastor said there were three reasons: His aging parents, the diversity of Little Rock Air Force Base and the red carpet treatment by Mayor Gary Fletcher and other city officials.

“The mayor’s office was very instrumental in my decision,” the restaurant owner said. “I’ve never had a city rollout the carpet like that for me. Every time I turned out someone from the city was asking, ‘What can I do? How can we help?’”

Pastor married into the world of Cajun cooking some 30 years ago. “I was raised in Texas and my wife’s family is from Abbeville, La. A friend introduced us and it’s been great ever since,” he said.

She introduced Pastor to Cajun heritage, and back then he develop a habit of working 70 hours a week six days a week. “That’s long and hard hours for someone else, I finally figured out and decided to go into business for my self,” he explained.

Pastor said a close friend who had been in the restaurant business for 30 years showed him the ropes.

Pastor opened up the Cajun Cookery down on the coast near Orange, Texas almost 11 years ago. “When it came to Cajun cuisine I was just one of many that seemed to be on every corner. We were somewhat taken for granted,” he said, which is one reason he likes his Jacksonville area customers. “Our diners really appreciate our style of food. It’s something they don’t get everyday. They are more excited because it’s something different.”

And what is different?

Pastor said it’s a number of things. First, it’s the freshness of the food. “I make a trip down to the coast at least once a month to pick up 500 pounds of alligator and 400 pounds of boudin. “Our alligator is farm raised and our boudin has been made by the same Cajun family for generations,” he explained.

Even though the restaurant offers a variety of Cajun food from gumbo to etouffee to fish galore, alligator seems to be the most popular item. “I don’t know if it’s because of curiosity or the novelty of it or the growing popularity of the Swamp People television series,” Pastor said.

“All of Cajun food is authentic and from scratch and no preservatives,” he said. The restaurant even blends its own breading and seasonings. “We start off with 50 bags of flour and cornmeal and five gallon buckets of seasonings,” Pastor said, adding that even the oil is cholesterol free and has no trans fats. We have the healthiest fried foods.”

Pastor knows that Cajun food is not for everyone and offers a menu full of more conservative choices such as an Angus cheeseburger, chicken fried steak, chef’s salads, Philly cheese steak and chicken.

Even though he enjoys being close to his parents and his brother, he hasn’t moved his wife and son up yet. “He’s a senior this year, so he and my wife will be up here after school ends.” But he makes the 800-mile round trip to see them at least once a month, so what if it coincides with his alligator and boudin run. It’s a run he hopes to continue to make long after his family moves up to Jacksonville.

“Right now it’s tough,” he said. Even though he was just one of many on the coast, his business thrived. Here everyone that visits seems to love it. “We have a lot of repeat customers, but we are looking to increase our traffic. We just aren’t where we need to be yet,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the location or if the economy has caught up with us. But we’ll continue to serve up the best Cajun food we can.”

Pastor’s restaurant, located on John Harden Drive just past the air base in the Quicksilver Plaza may be hard to get to, but you know you are in the right place when you get there.

The give away?

The 10-foot alligator on the ceiling and the seven-foot by the buffet and the numerous alligator heads mounted on the wall.

The restaurant, which has been open since March, serves lunch and dinner. “We offer a buffet at both times as well as menu items,” Pastor said. The eatery is running a lunch special right now with a number of items priced at $5.99 and a big dinner menu.

So as they like to say in Cajun country, laissez les bons temps rouler.

TOP STORY > >Sergeant brings pieces of trade center to base

After the relics made their way to Aghanistan and back, Little Rock Air Force Base has two pieces of World Trade Center steel on display in the mobility processing center thanks to the tenacity of a senior master sergeant who brought the mementoes to the air base.

One piece is from the New York Fire Department Academy—the one shaped like Arkansas—and the other is from the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey, from the I-beam.

Senior Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, who was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., two years ago, wanted to take pieces of the World Trade Center with him to Afghanistan. He explains how he acquired the steel from Ground Zero and how it made its way to LRAFB, where he now serves with the 19th Airlift Wing.

Beason had received orders for a 365-day tour of duty to Afghanistan in August 2009 when he was at McGuire.

“I remembered seeing a news report of a hangar at John F. Kennedy Airport (Hangar 17) in New York, which housed all the artifacts from 9/11,” Beason said. “So I did some digging around on the Internet and got hold of Jan Ramirez. She was one of the head people working on the 9/11 museum. With it being closed to the public, I figured it was a long shot, but I asked anyway if I could go see it.

“So I called her and told her my story and explained to her why I wanted to see the artifacts. She then gave me Peter Miller’s contact numbers. He was the actual custodian of the hangar. So I called him and told him the story, and asked if I could come up and see it. He agreed and so I brought up a few other first sergeants with me.

“We spent about four hours in the hangar looking at the variouspieces of steel and just trying to accept the whole situation.

“Near the end of the tour Peter gave us, he led us to one certain piece. It was section M-2 — the section that the first plane hit. Words cannot describe that moment,” Beason said.

“I told Peter that I wanted to take some steel to Afghanistan with me. He told me that it would take a long time to get the request through the legal channels. But he did say he had a friend. His friend was Lee Ielpi, whose son was a firefighter who was killed when the towers fell,” the sergeant said. “I was able to talk to Ielpi, and then he put me in contact with Carl Sheetz.

“He was a firefighter from Rescue 1, the squad that is designed to rescue firefighters. Carl told me that I could get some steel from the New York Fire Academy to take to Afghanistan. So the next week, a few of us went up there to get the steel. When we got there, Carl told us his story of 9/11 and how he lost 101 of his buddies that day,” he explained.

“I told him that it is our duty to not let the events of that day be forgotten. As he looked into my eyes, I saw a tear in his,” Beason said.

“He told me to make sure we (the military) never forget, because some in New York had already begun to forget,” he said.

“Out of the steel we got from the fire academy that day, I took two pieces to Afghanistan,” Beason continued. “One is at McGuire and the other one I kept.

“When I returned from Afghanistan in January 2011, a fellow first sergeant, Pat Ellison, asked me what the heck was so heavy in this certain container. I told him it was an actual piece of the World Trade Center. He told me it looked a lot like the state of Arkansas. As we took a closer look, it looks remarkably like the state outline.

“So in late 2009, when we were cutting up the steel at the New York Fire Department Academy, we actually cut this steel up in the shape of Arkansas...unintentionally. It was never planned that way. That made me want to donate it to the base instead of keep it for myself,” he said.

“The second piece was originally meant for the 438rd Air Expeditionary Wing in Kabul, Afghanistan. That’s the unit I was assigned to while I was deployed. Since I already got a piece over there, I asked the lawyers from the Port Authority to redirect it to Arkansas and the 19th Airlift Wing.

“After all the dust settled, the wing was awarded it,” the sergeant said. ““I know some folks that work for FedEx in New Jersey and I was able to get it shipped here at no cost. It arrived here the day after the tornado struck. And the day I got notified that nine of my best friends were killed in Afghanistan....the same unit the steel was supposed to go to in the first place.

“Call it fate or whatever, but those two pieces of steel were destined for this base, I believe. And with the help of a few other folks with passion, it’s going to stand proud in Building 430, the Little Rock Air Force Base building that houses the deployment line, so that every deployer stepping out the door to deploy, will never forget.

“Throughout this ordeal, I’ve been told, ‘No, that can’t be done,’ or, ‘You can’t do that,’ plus a host of other excuses...but I wasn’t going to stop. It’s worth it to me,” Beason said.

“It’s often said that one person with passion can accomplish more than 40 people with just an interest,” he continued. “That’s so true. This was easy for me, and for the folks who are behind the scenes making it happen. Without them and their passion, we wouldn’t be discussing this.

“They all represent the virtues and the values that America and the Air Force so desperately need right now: sacrifice and selflessness, honor and decency. That’s why they’re here today. That’s what they represent.”

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

TOP STORY >> Couple will see utility bills drop

Leader staff writer

Lonoke County residents Brian and Madison Sanders of the Woodlawn community will soon begin saving money on their home energy bills. The couple won a $5,000 energy efficiency mini-makeover contest by First Electric Cooperative.

The Sanders were one of four First Electric customers in the state selected from submitted applications for energy improvements to their home.

“I’m so excited. I have never won anything in my life,” Madison Sanders said.

The Sanders’ home on 811 Casteen Road is 725 square feet and built in the 1950s. The couple married in October. Brian has owned the home four years. They remodeled the house and were going to use it as a rental home, but chose to live in it, due to the cost of building a new home.

Brian is a plumber with Sanders Plumbing. Madison works in the contractor sales department at the Cabot Home Depot.

The average electric bill at the Sanders’ house was $125. Their highest electric bill was $216. This was before recently installing an outdoor pool, which added an additional $109 to their monthly electric bill.

First Electric performed an energy audit to determine where air leaks were in the house, and where to add more insulation and caulking.

To make the home more energy efficient, a 2-ton mini-split heat pump replaced the single air conditioning and electric heater window unit. Madison Sanders said they used fans to push the air through the house. The new unit has a programmable thermostat.

Kevin Moore, vice president of Moore Heat and Air, said the new heating and air conditioning unit is more efficient, uses less power and is quieter than larger systems.

Other upgrades included changing incandescent light bulbs throughout the house with compact fluorescent bulbs. A timer was installed to a continuously running outdoor swimming pool pump. The timer will cut the pool pump’s energy cost in half.

The house had approximately 8 inches of loose-fill fiberglass insulation in the attic. An additional 8 inches of blown cellulose was added to increase the insulation’s resistance to heat flow (R-value) from R-18 to R-45. The added insulation will help to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

“I’m just so excited and looking forward to see what the saving will be. We are going to reduce our carbon footprint,” Sanders said.

First Electric marketing representative David Copeland said, “We do it to show how small- to mid-sized investments in energy-efficiency can lower your electrical usage.”

TOP STORY >> Gas pollution poses danger, report claims

Leader staff writer

The state agency charged with protecting the public from pollution caused by the natural-gas industry isn’t doing a very good job, according to a report released Tuesday by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel.

The report is based on an analysis of Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s records of inspections of all facets of the industry between July 2006 and August 2010.

Northwestern White County has several gas wells and a drilling waste reclamation plant in the Opal community between Beebe and El Paso.

Although the drilling area does not extend into Lonoke County, the county does have waste-disposal sites, such as the land farm near Carlisle.

The Arkansas Public Policy Panel is a statewide tax-exempt organization that supports the efforts of citizen groups around the state by linking them with one another in networks and coalitions to bring balance to public policy.

The report was released one week before a group of bills intended to better regulate the natural-gas industry is discussed by a state legislative committee.

Bill Kopsky, Arkansas Public Policy Panel executive director, said Tuesday that the report “sheds a lot of light on problems we think are ongoing.”

Kopsky said the goal is to make state regulations more stringent and increase enforce ment to protect the environment, and not run the natural gas industry out of the state.

State Sen. Jonathan Dismang (R-Searcy) was among a group of legislators who opposed environmental bills during the last session. Dismang said Tuesday evening that he hadn’t yet read the report, but that he was fairly certain its release was timed to coincide with the discussion of the bills next week.

Dismang said that overall the believes the ADEQ does a good job. If there are problems they might need more inspectors, he said adding, “I’m not sure passing more laws will help.”

State Rep. Jeremy Gilliam (R-Judsonia) joined with Dismang in opposing the bills for more regulation of the gas industry.

He said Tuesday evening that he hadn’t seen the study and therefore couldn’t comment on its exact content. ADEQ might need more inspectors, but he said, “I think they’ve done a pretty good job with the resources they have.”

The report says in part that violations of the state’s clean water standards are widespread and that inspections are infrequent and driven by complaints. The companies that work in the field don’t follow their own best management practices.

Operators don’t report violations as required by state law and that often state inspectors don’t make follow-up inspections after complaints have been filed to ensure that corrections are made.

An earlier report said there are 7,000 gas wells now in the Fayetteville shale and 14,000 more are anticipated.

The report released Tuesday said significant pollution issues were contained in three-quarters of the inspections with violations and that in the four-year period only 538 inspections were conducted. In that same time, only two operators voluntarily reported violations.

Of the 538 inspections, 86 were in White County and nine were in Lonoke County.

Missing from the inspection reports were information about corrective measures or any penalties against the operators. Also missing was evidence of ADEQ follow-up inspections. Of the 500 plus inspections conducted, only nine files showed any later inspections to ensure corrective measures were taken, the report said.

Four more inspectors were added in 2011 but they are mostly relegated to wells on Arkansas Game and Fish lands where the rules are stricter than on private land, the report said.

The following recommendations are in the report:

“ADEQ should inspect each well site, compressor station, pipeline, injection well site, land farm and other industry facility at least once annually. Every violation should trigger mandatory followup inspections and increased inspections of the violators’ other facilities within the state.

“Repeat violations should result in revocation of permits and a ban on future permits to operate,” the report said.

TOP STORY >> Cabot welcomes new armory

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Readiness Center was dedicated Tuesday morning, a little more than one year and eight months after the groundbreaking ceremony was held.

In December 2009, guests waded through mud and sat in the cold to listen to speeches about why Cabot was the perfect location for a $10 million Army National Guard armory and how much work had gone into getting one started.

On Tuesday, the weather was cool and sunny. The mud was replaced by newly laid sod. Where backhoes worked in December 2009 is now an armory at 103 Commerce Park Drive, which Maj. Gen. William Wofford, commander of the Arkansas Army and Air National Guard, called the best in the country or even in the world. And other speakers, including now state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R.-Cabot), the mayor who spoke during the groundbreaking, talked about how Cabot is the perfect place for an armory and how much work went into getting one.

But whether it was intended that way or not, the undisputed star of the show was 3-year-old Hudson Taylor, the senator’s grandson who had been told that if he recited the Pledge of Allegiance, the audience would probably clap for him. Hudson, the senator said, wondered if they would give him money.

From his grandfather’s hip, he said the pledge without missing a word. At some point it became clear that he would be able to finish and the audience rose and placed their hands over their hearts. The members of Fox Company, who were already standing, saluted. And when he finished, they applauded just like he had been told they probably would.

It is generally acknowledged that it is because of the quality of the education in Cabot schools that an armory was built there.

“Today’s National Guard is about smart kids running complicated equipment,” the senator said before bringing his grandson to the stage as an example of what he was talking about.

He said later that he hadn’t expected the audience’s reaction. He was just showing off what Hudson had learned to do.

Mayor Bill Cypert also spoke and reiterated what had already been said. Today’s military is known for its intelligence as well as its strength.

Wofford, the adjutant general, said it was the support of the community and the quality of the graduates from Cabot High School that made choosing Cabot “a no-brainer.”

He said that he finds it remarkable that after 10 years of combat young men and women are still enlisting in the military, still “answering the call.”

He agrees with Time Magazine, which calls those young people the new “greatest generation.”

The new armory is home to F Company, a forward support company for the 2-153 Infantry Battalion. F Company is one of six companies, spread over 11 armories in North East Arkansas, that report to the 2-153 Infantry Battalion headquarters in Searcy.

F Company is responsible for re-supplying food, water, and other essentials to the infantry battalion. They also provide transportation, maintenance, and mess services for the infantry battalion.

F Company’s last deployment was in 2008 to Iraq. The next will be to Afghanistan in June 2012.

Architect Steve Elliott spoke about his concern that he wouldn’t be allowed to work on the project because he was in the guard when talk of the project began almost five years ago. But government moves slowly and when the time came to design the project, he was retired.

David Hipp and Wayne “Moose” Cullins, two of the handful of men who pushed then Mayor Williams to help them find a location for the armory and money to build it, spoke afterward.

“I think it’s a dream come true,” Hipp said of the 35,000-square-foot facility.

Hipp, a former member of the Cabot School Board and 32-year veteran of the Air National Guard, said, “There’s a lot of smart kids here. It takes smart kids to run the equipment they use today.”

Cullins, a 38-year veteran of the Air National Guard, said military service might not be right for everyone, but it gives some young people the opportunity for education and travel that they might not have otherwise.

The dignitaries cut the ribbon stretched across the front entrance and the ceremony ended with prayer and everyone singing “The Army Song,” an adaptation of “The Caisson Song.”

And Hudson Taylor went home with a shiny, gold-colored “coin of excellence” that the adjutant general presented him for his flawless rendition of the Pledge.

At three, Hudson was too young to understand that the major general was honoring him for a job well done.

The coin that he proudly showed and refused to allow his grandfather to hold for very long was the money he had suspected he might receive for his efforts. And when his parents saw it, he said they were going to “freak out.”

SPORTS >> Carlisle set to avenge bad defeat at Bauxite

Leader sports editor

Carlisle had a great season last year, especially once conference play got started, but there were a couple of nonconference games that it strive hard to correct. It gets a chance at the first one this Friday when the Bauxite Miners host the Bison. The loss to Bauxite was the first of two consecutive nonconference losses for Carlisle before it went on a streak, winning the rest of its regular-season games, plus two playoff games.

Ironically, it was the only win of the season for the class 4A Miners, an anomaly for the tradition-rich program. Bauxite won the game 42-21 with the help of a few Carlisle turnovers and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown.

This year, Bauxite coach Shance Clancy doesn’t expect as much help when the Bison rumble into town.

“You can’t count on those things,” Clancy said. “Carlisle is a great program with a lot of tradition and pride, and we’re sure they’re coming in here wanting to pay us back for that loss.”

Bauxite will definitely be riding a wave of confidence as it prepares for the Bison. The Miners beat fierce rival Glen Rose to start the season Friday. It was a win Clancy says his program and players needed.

“That was a great win for us,” Clancy said. “We had a tough go of it last year and to beat our rival, that was a big victory. We just have to make sure we don’t have a big drop off after a big emotional win like that.”

Carlisle had a senior-laden team last year and this year’s team is replacing several starters. Some expected the Bison to be a little down this year, but week one’s rout of Riverview can’t be ignored by any future Bison opponents, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Clancy and the Miners.

“They didn’t look very down to me at all,” Clancy said. “They have two sophomore running backs that are as big as all get out. They have great speed. The little quarterback does a great job of running that offense. The offensive line is physical. Our defense is going to have to step up to the challenge and hold them to three and out as much as we can.”

With both teams bringing a run-first offense to the game, possessions may be limited, and capitalizing on possessions is what Clancy believes will be the key to the game.

“Each team is going to have to take advantage of each possession it has,” Clancy said. “Their offense is good, and as good as they eat up the clock, our goal has to be to try to score every time we have the ball.”

SPORTS >> Badgers, Rabbits meet again

Leader sportswriter

Although not a conference game, the familiar week two rivalry game between Lonoke and Beebe usually sets the tone for both teams’ seasons. The close proximity and similar talent always seems to make for a good matchup, and gives the two programs a good gauge of how prepared or unprepared they are to play in big games.

The Badgers and Jackrabbits are both coming off opening-week losses, but will be looking to turn their fortunes around this week when they meet at James B. Abraham Stadium in Lonoke for a 7 p.m. kickoff Friday.

It’s a rivalry game that dates back almost 50 years and has even included Beebe head coach John Shannon, who took part back in the early 1980s as a Badger lineman.

“Beebe and Lonoke have been playing for a very long time,” Shannon said. “They’ve been playing back before I even played. It means a lot to both communities. It’s a big game, there’s always a big crowd, but it’s a friendly rivalry. I don’t ever remember anything mischievous happening.

“The coaches all get along. We talk throughout the summer. It’s just one of those old-fashioned rivalries where everyone’s excited.”

Lonoke coach Doug Bost shares the friendly rivalry sentiment wnth Shannon.

“It’s always a big game when we play,” Bost said. “We’re only 20-something miles apart, so there’s always a good crowd on hand. It’s always tough when we play Beebe.” And there were plenty of positives for Lonoke to take away from last week’s loss to Star City.

Bost was pleased with the offensive line, which helped the Jackrabbits pick up 185 yards on the ground.

Junior quarterback D.J. Burton also had a strong night passing with over 130 yards through the air, going 11 for 15.

But penalties were a big setback. Lonoke was penalized for 85 yards.

Defensively, the Jackrabbits experienced growing pains with their young secondary against Star City. But wnth run-oriented Beebe on tap this week, the backfield will not be under the gun quite as much.

“Coming into this year, we knew our secondary would need a lot of work,” Bost said. “Theygave up a long pass for a touchdown just before halftime, and that hurt us. But it’s something we’ve worked on this week.”

It’s not speed that concerns Bost the most when it comes to Beebe, it’s the size up front.

“Hopefully this is the biggest offensive line we see all year,” Bost said. “They’re returning six of their seven starters – they return a lot of size. They want to run the ball on you, unless they get into third and long, and then they might try and pass it on you.

“We’re going to have to be able to read the backs and know what gap we have. They also run the option some, so we’ll have to know who has the quarterback, and who has the pitch man.”

Beebe’s 41-14 loss to Greenbrier last week looks better on paper than it did on the scoreboard. The Badgers stopped the Panthers’ stout senior quarterback Neal Burcham and the Greenbrier offense six times, but costly offensive and special teams turnovers were costly and gave the Panthers a short field.

“Offensively, we just can’t beat ourselves,” Shannon said. “We turned the ball over three times in crucial situations. Those fumbles hurt us and put our defense in bad situations.”

It was a departure from a Badgers offense that looked confident and composed during their scrimmage at Harding Academy a week earlier. Beebe went mistake free for the most part during four long scoring drives against Harding Academy and Trumann. But the first Friday night saw the Badgers make plenty of mistakes on the offensive side.

“We really didn’t have any problems during our scrimmage, so I was kind of surprised,” Shannon said. “It’s a veteran group, we had a scrimmage under our belts, so I was disappointed with our offense. We told them Saturday that the defense played well enough to win the game. We’re pushing them hard this week, and hopefully we’ll be ready come game time.”

Bost’s concern over Beebe’s offensive line is similar to Shannon’s worries when it comes to the Lonoke interior.

“They talk about our offensive line, but they’ve got their share of big guys up there,” Shannon said. “Breaking them down on film, it looks like they like to pass about 60 percent of the time and run it about 40 percent of the time. Defensively, we want to play good angles and make good tackles.”

With similar size and experience, Bost hopes the home-field advantage will help his Jackrabbits prevail.

“Any time you can play at home and have a big crowd cheering behind you, it’s exciting,” Bost said. “They’re looking forward to their first home game.”

SPORTS >> Red Devils face more Panthers

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville won’t get another crack at the Cabot Panthers this season after dropping the disappointing season opener last week, but it will get a crack at some other Panthers — these from Benton.

Benton brings an improved team into Jan Crow Stadium on Friday for the Red Devils’ home opener.

Noticeably disappointed after the season-opening loss at Cabot, Jacksonville has packed that game away, and is focusing on what it must do better the rest of the season.

“Our kids rebounded,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “That very night when we got back we talked about facing adversity, getting through it and putting it behind you. We’re ready for Benton. All we’re thinking about is our first home game.”

There was a little looking back at game film and picking out the spots that need improvement. Illegal procedure penalties on the offense helped thwart several Jacksonville drives at Cabot. A few other things stood out that need work.

“We had too many penalties and too many missed tackles,” Russell said. “We expected to be more successful on both sides of the football. We would’ve liked some breaks, but we didn’t get them. You don’t always get the breaks. We let the emotions of the game affect us, but we’ve addressed that. I expect much better things from this point forward. The very next day, we went right to talking about what we need to do offensively and defensively. We have nine or 10 games left, minimum, and a lot to play for.”

Benton went 3-8 on the field last year, but officially went 0-11 after forfeiting all three wins for using an ineligible player.

Jacksonville beat the Panthers 34-10 last year, but this looks like a completely different Benton team.

Benton lost 45-9 to Bryant in its opener last year. Last week, it lost 21-14 and was driving with time running out. The offensive scheme is different, and the 15 returning starters are making the team better.

“We got the chance to scout them in person Friday night, and it’s an improved football team,” Russell said. “They have some kids on defense that like contact. The running threat they have this year is greatly improved over last year. We have our work cut out for us.”

The running back, Wallace Foote, was on the team a year ago, and moved to running back later on in the season. But against Jacksonville, he mostly lined up at wide receiver.

They’ve also moved away from a consistent spread attack, and have gone to multiple sets and formations.

“They lined him in at receiver, and we threw combination coverages at him and put pressure on the quarterback,” Russell said. “We were pretty successful at keeping the ball out of his hands. This year they’re just going to hand it to him. They run it at least 60 percent of the time. We’re going to have to be able to recognize what they’re doing.”

Russell saw a lot of overload sets in the Bryant game.

“If you don’t adjust to it, they can pick on you over there because they have you outmanned,” Russell said. “If you adjust too much, they’re going to run over at the weak side. We’ve got to have our bases covered. It’s going to be a challenge.”

The Red Devils suffered several minor injuries in the Cabot game.

Running back Kevin Richardson should be full strength after suffering a dislocated shoulder. Lineman Erin Davis’ sprained ankle shouldn’t be a problem by kickoff.

But the extra time off from the Tuesday game has been good for the recovery process. “The only question is Brandon Brockman,” Russell said of his tight end’s ankle injury. “His was a little more serious. He could still play Friday, we’ll just have to see. It’s a nonconference game, so we’re not going to rush it.”

For Jacksonville to win its first game of the season, the plan is simple.

“We have to do three things,” Russell said. “We have to take care of the football, get in rhythm and stay in rhythm and stop the false start penalties. Nobody wants what happened to us last week to happen, but mistakes are sometimes OK if they enhance future performance. We’re going forward, and we’re going to strap it up again at 7 o’clock Friday.”

SPORTS >> Hornets present different challenge

Leader sports editor

North Pulaski’s Falcons didn’t have a good first outing under first-year coach Teodis Ingram. The Falcons committed six turnovers and lost 41-13 to Searcy. Still, there were things from which to build as it prepares to face Maumelle at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Pulaski’s Robinson High School. The game was moved because the new artificial turf surface at the new Maumelle field is not yet complete.

One of the things Ingram liked about Friday was the run defense. Searcy was not able to get anything going on the ground, and got less than 50 rushing yards in the game. Even the pass defense was good most of the time. It was lapses that led to big gains that ultimately cost the Falcons.

“You’d look at that score and think they just manhandled us,” Ingram said. “That’s really not the case. We more than held our own with the run defense, and that was with being out-sized by quite a bit. It was the big plays that we gave up that made the difference.” Ingram says trying to run the spread against Searcy after practicing the wing T for most of preseason contributed to the turnover problems.

“We had worked on the spread and I really felt like we were going to need to do that to have a chance because they were so much bigger than us,” Ingram said. “So really, the turnovers, I have to take a lot of the blame for that. We haven’t turned the ball over in the wing T offense. In the spread, Marvin (quarterback Marvin Harris) hadn’t really taken a lot of live snaps from the gun. So some of it was my fault, some of it was focus too. We’re going to work on that.”

Ingram said one way he hopes to improve the turnover problem is going live all week in practice. From special teams work to offense and defense, it will all be against live competition.

As for the opponent, Maumelle, which consists primarily of the same players from Oak Grove last year, presents a completely different set of challenges than Searcy.

The Hornets aren’t as big but are quicker than the Lions.

“They’re not as big, but there’s still some good size up front on that team,” Ingram said. “The main thing with them is their athleticism. They’re a lot more athletic than Searcy, particularly on defense. I’m also really impressed with their guards. They can really run and get out front and block really well.”

Blocking is something Ingram thought should have been better from his team’s performance and something he’s anxious to see how it improves on Friday.

“We watched the film, and the things we worked on in practice, we didn’t do very well,” Ingram said.

We missed some assignments that would’ve allowed us to move the ball a little bit better. We came back, had a great practice Monday.

We looked at film, pointed out the mistakes, and you could see on their faces that they knew they could’ve played better and done some things differently. We had a good conditioning practice. I think we’re going to be OK. I look forward to getting back on the field to correct some things. I think we have a chance.”

SPORTS >> National power coming to Panther Stadium

Leader sports writers

Sometimes sarcasm can be a good indicator of how heavily something weighs on a person’s mind.

In the case of Cabot coach Mike Malham, as he prepares his Panthers to face a blistering Pulaski Academy team this week, there was plenty of sarcasm to go around in a Tuesday afternoon interview.

“There’s not much to talk about,” Malham said. “What do you want to talk about – the six D1 guys they have?”

The Bruins have nine starters back on offense from last year’s 4A state runner-up team, including senior quarterback Fredi Knighten. As a junior last year, Knighten caught the attention of college scouts nation wide with both his passing efficiency and ability to scramble on broken plays. He went 277 of 439 for 4,318 yards and 54 passing touchdowns while running for eight more touchdowns and picking up almost 900 more yards on the ground.

Among Knighten’s wide list of talented targets is junior wideout Hunter Henry, who also has heavy interest from SEC college programs.

In all, there are four Bruin seniors who are on the list for class of 2012’s Top 50 recruits. Plus there are two Bruin juniors on the class of 2013’s Top 25 national recruits.

Pulaski Academy coach Kevin Kelley downplays the attention that so many of his players are getting.

“We promote our kids trying to get them looks from colleges and find them places to play and get good scholarships,” Kelley said. “Sometimes the media catches on to that. We’ve got some kids that can really play, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of other schools do too that maybe just haven’t had the same exposure our guys have.”

The Bruins proved worthy of their national ranking and overall No. 4 ranking statewide last week when they punished Central Arkansas Christian 54-14 in one of the four Kickoff Classic games at War Memorial Stadium. Kelley, however, wasn’t entirely pleased.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” Kelley said. “I think you could take any play, and find someone that did something wrong. We’ve definitely got a lot we can improve.”

Malham mostly notices the talent when he looks at Pulaski Academy game film.

“They’re a talented team,” Malham said.“We definitely have our work cut out for us. They’ve got some good receivers, and they’ve got some speed. Hopefully we grew up some from last Tuesday.”

The Panthers came on strong late in last week’s 34-13 victory over rival Jacksonville, but suffered some collateral damage in the process. Sophomore safety Jordan Burke suffered an ankle injury and defensive tackle Kyle Sturgeon went out with a knee injury. Burke has already undergone surgery for the ankle in question after a previous dustup while Sturgeon was waiting for surgery to correct a torn ACL when he went down against the Red Devils last Tuesday. Malham does not expect either to be back this season.

“We already have eight new guys as it is,” Malham said. “There’s a lot of inexperience out there, and it’s a little bit different when you’re out there with the stands packed.”

Malham’s assessment of last week’s game against Jacksonville was that the defense played better as the game went on, and was happy with the ball movement on the offensive side.

He did say there were plenty of opportunities to clean up the knack for turnovers and penalties that plagued the Panthers in the first half. But when it comes to Pulaski Academy, Malham said he believes it is a good test for his young team before the start of their 7A-Central Conference schedule, a schedule that includes heavyweights like Conway, Little Rock Catholic and North Little Rock, all highly-ranked teams.

“Just look at our schedule – every week is a test,” Malham said. “We go from this to Har-Ber, then Conway. Then we’ve got No. 5 North Little Rock and then Catholic after that. So, I don’t know if you call it our biggest test, it’s just like another week in 7A football for us.

“One thing about it is, by the time we get through with our non-conference schedule, we shouldn’t be in awe of anything.”

While Pulaski Academy and its six Top 50 recruits will be the clear favorite this week, Kelley still sees a formidable foe in the Panthers, especially playing a style of ball his squad is not used to seeing.

“It’s beneficial to play them because they play such good technique, good responsibility, you have to be disciplined to beat Cabot,” Kelley said. “They come off the line so low, you can’t take a break. If just one stands up, he’s going to get driven back into the next level, and it’s just a domino effect.”

The Bruins are always efficient offensively, with one of the best scores-per-possession ratios in the state, but that will be a focal point for Kelley’s bunch this week. “It has to be,” Kelley said. “Last year we averaged 15 or 16 possessions per game. Against Cabot, we had nine. So we have to get as much out of those possessions as we can because they’re going to do whatever they can to keep us from having the ball.”