Saturday, September 17, 2011

SPORTS>>Cabot cross-country ladies take first place

EmKay Myers and Allison Sinning finished first and second en route to leading the Cabot girls to the team title in the Bryant Cross Country Invitational on Tuesday.

The Panther’s 50 points edged host Bryant by four points, 54, and Russellville by eight, 58. Like golf, the lowest team totals win in cross country with the fastest finishes of the first five harriers counted for the team totals. Myers finished the 5,000-meter course in Bishop Park in a fast 19 minutes, 17.61 seconds with Sinning following at 19:53.59. Myers was the runner-up last year as a junior on a different Bryant course.

Two other harriers finished in the top 20 for the Panthers. Marlene Sheehan was sixth at 21:58.26 while Meagan Duncan finished in 20th place at 23:00.92.

Sixth-place finisher Casey Vaughan lead two other Panthers in the top 20 with a time of 17:23.76. Scott Foltz took ninth place in 17:27.25 and Reed Harrell finished in 12th place in 17:41.43.

Additionally, freshman Micah Huckabee took first place in the girls junior division.

The Lady Panthers take part in an even bigger event this week hosted by Conway. About 20 teams are set to compete in a race at Beaverfork Lake.

SPORTS>>Parkview unkind to SH Bears

Special to The Leader

The weather was not the only problem that the Sylvan Hills Bears ran into Friday night at Bill Blackwell Field, there was the Little Rock Parkview Patriots.

The two teams entered the game appearing to be evenly matched on paper, but Parkview proved to be the dominant team, leaving Sherwood with a 31-0 victory over the Class 5A Bears.

Both teams were strong defensively, fast on both sides of the ball, and were similar in numbers. However, the Bears couldn’t match up to the Patriots, both offensively and defensively, once the teams took the field.

The Bears (1-2) and Patriots (3-0) started out slow offensively, as many would expect considering the teams’ respected defenses. It was the Sylvan Hills offense however, that made the first big mistake, fumbling a handoff that the Patriots defense recovered at the Sylvan Hills 32-yard-line.

After two big runs for 10 and 12 yards from junior Patriots running back Rashaad Earls, quarterback Caelon Harden took the quarterback keeper 10 yards to the end zone to put the first points on the board with 3:38 left in the first quarter. Jonathan Davis kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0 Patriots.

The Bears special teams showed promise on the following kickoff when Jalen West returned the kick to the Patriot 49-yard-line.

The offense managed to move the ball inside the 10, but turned the ball over on downs when a group of Patriots took down senior Trey Bone in the backfield.

The Patriots’ defense provided the offense with momentum. After a few big plays on offense from Harden and Earls, Earls maneuvered his way through defenders to march 28 yards into the end zone with 10:32 left in the second quarter. Davis’s extra point attempt was no good, leaving the score 13-0 Patriots.

The Patriots followed the successful scoring drive by trying to keep the Bears in the game with a bad onside kick attempt that didn’t make the 10-yard bounce, giving the Bears excellent field positioning yet again at the Patriots’ 48-yard-line.

After a facemask penalty pushed the Bears closer to the red zone, the Bears offense found no luck in the run game. On fourth down, the Bears took a chance and went for it, but junior quarterback John David Miller’s pass was picked off by Patriots junior Alex Cottrell and was returned to the Parkview 16-yard-line.

After an offensive series for both teams, the Patriots added to their lead when Harden hit Cottrell for a 47-yard-touchdown-pass with just 30 seconds left in the half. The Patriots’ special teams took a chance and went for two on a fake extra point attempt, but failed as the Bears’ defense sniffed it out, making it 19-0 going into halftime.

The Bears’ offense was able to adjust and move the football in the second half, but was unable to find the end zone. The running game appeared to have promise at times in the second half from the hard running of Bone, but the lack of balance in the passing game and penalties hurt the Bears’ offense.

“I made a lot of bad decisions myself,” Bears Head Coach Jim Withrow said about the outcome of the game. “We just weren’t used to playing under center and a lot of that’s my fault. They’re a really talented team and we knew what to expect.”

The Patriots’ athletic Harden finished off the Bears late in the fourth quarter with another 9-yard-touchdown-run with 5:32 left in the game, making the score 25-0. After a quick three-and-out from the Bears’ offense, the Patriots field position was too good.

On a third and long pass play, Harden hit senior tight end Lionel Davis for a 24-yard-touchdown-pass with 3:39 left to play. The extra point was good to make what would be the final.

“I just don’t think we have ever had that much offense and couldn’t punch it in,” Withrow said about his team’s offensive play. “We could’ve tackled better, but I don’t blame our defense. Our offense needs to score points to help out the defense and to help us win.”

Sylvan Hills will try to rebound next week as they travel to White Hall to kick off conference play in the 5A Southeast. Kickoff starts at 7 p.m.

SPORTS>>Turnover changes tide, Panthers lose

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers again totaled a bunch yards, but again failed to come away with a win. The Panthers fell 42-20 to Springdale Har-Ber on Friday in Springdale. The game turned late in the first quarter with Har-Ber leading 7-0 and Cabot driving deep into Wildcat territory.

Cabot drove inside the Har-Ber 10-yard line, but disaster struck. An option pitch went awry and was loose on the ground. A Wildcat defender scooped it up and took 87 yards the other way for the touchdown, turning a near tie into a two-score Har-Ber lead.

Cabot struggled offensively on its next two drives, turning it over once more and punting.

Har-Ber scored on both possession and took a 28-0 lead early in the second period.

The two teams traded touchdowns from that point on. Cabot finally got on the board when halfback Weston Conard carried it in from five yards out to make it 28-7 with 5:22 left in the half.

After another Har-Ber score, fullback Ian Thompson plunged in from 1 yard out with 5:37 left in the third period.

Thompson scored again with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter to set the final margin.

The Panthers racked up 358 total yards and totaled 24 first downs. Conard led the Panthers’ rushing attack with 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

The Panthers, 1-2, open conference play next week at home against Conway. The Wampus Cats are 2-1 overall, and most recently beat Rogers Heritage 38-13 on Friday.

SPORTS>>Beebe holds off Vilonia for win

Special to The Leader

Beebe linebacker Jay Holdway stripped the ball from Vilonia running back James Sax with 1:24 left in the game and the Badgers held on for a wild 27-24 win over the Eagles at A.S. “Bro” Erwin Stadium on Friday.

But the outcome was unclear, even after the final seconds ticked off the game clock.

Beebe (2-1) ran three plays while Vilonia (1-2) used its three timeouts, and on fourth down and 18 seconds left, a mishandled snap on the punt by Badger punter Dustin Stallnacker led to a dramatic finish. Stallnacker picked up the ball and began to run to his own end zone in hopes of settling for a safety. But Vilonia tackled him at the 3-yard line, giving the Eagles first and goal with 12.6 seconds remaining. Eagles quarterback Jake Steward ran a sneak into the right side of his line, and as the officials conferred to discuss if the ball crossed the end zone, the clock ran out. The officials then spotted the ball inches outside the end zone, and the Badgers began celebrating.

Vilonia coach Jim Stanley, visibly upset over the time it took to make the call by the officials, raced onto the field in protest. His displeasure with the ruling on the field and the time to make the call was evident, as he had to be restrained by his assistant coaches. It was a difficult ending for the Eagles, but certainly a thrilling victory for the Badgers.

Those who braved the cool and wet conditions were treated to an exciting game from beginning to end. Beebe began with a successful onside kick, which they recovered on the Eagles 48-yard line. On the third play from scrimmage, Stallnacker found running back Jay Holdway for a 45-yard touchdown pass. The missed extra point gave the Badgers a 6-0 lead with 10:35 left in the first quarter.

Vilonia quickly responded on their first drive when Eagles quarterback Jake Steward ran a sneak on fourth and one, and after disappearing into the line, somehow managed to bounce out to his left for a 36-yard touchdown run. The extra point gave Vilonia a 7-6 lead.

Vilonia missed a field goal near the end of the first quarter gave Beebe first down at its own 20. Senior running back Rory Moore ran 75 yard down to the Eagles 5-yard line. On the final play of the first quarter, Badger running back Eric Thorn found the end zone from five yards out, and the successful two-point conversion run by Stallnacker made it 14-7 Beebe at the end of the first quarter.

Beebe then tried another onside kick, but Vilonia recovered at its own 49-yard line. The Eagles then scored quickly on a 51-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter.

Holdway made another big play in the game, this time with an interception at his own 14-yard line with 2:41 remaining in the first half. Beebe quickly moved down the field, and on third and 10 from the Eagles 21-yard line, Dakota Lovston caught a tipped pass off the hands of an Eagle defender and raced into the end zone with 20 seconds left in the first half. Beebe led at halftime 21-14.

The Badgers went three and out to start the second half. Vilonia ran the fourth down punt back 30 yards to the Badgers’ 30-yard line. Vilonia ended the short drive with a 41-yard field goal, closing the deficit to 21-17 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.

Beebe responded with a methodical drive of its own, ending with a 22-yard touchdown run by Holdway, who seemed to have a hand in every big play of the game. At the end of three quarters, Beebe led Vilonia 27-17.

Vilonia then drove 55 yards on its next possession and found the end zone on a two-yard touchdown fun by Jake Steward, his second of the game.

The Eagles pulled to within three with 11:38 remaining in the fourth. Beebe went for it on fourth and two from the Eagle 20-yard line with 6:21 remaining, but was stopped for a loss of a yard. The Eagles then drove 11 plays down to the Badger 27 before Holdway made the huge strip of the ball, ending the hopeful scoring opportunity for the Eagles.

The Badgers finished with 290 yards rushing on 46 attempts. Stallnacker was 4-7 passing with 103 yards and two touchdowns.

For Vilonia, the Eagles had 38 rushes for 171 yards and 51 yards passing.

SPORTS>>Lucas speaks to local school

Leader sportswriter

The WatchDOGS were visited by one of the most beloved Hogs.

Former Arkansas Razorback receiver Anthony Lucas was the keynote speaker at Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter School’s annual Dinner with Dad event on Tuesday night for the WatchDOGS, a program that encourages fathers to become more active in the academics of their children.

For dads, it was an opportunity to meet Lucas, the prolific Hogs receiver who set several school records from 1995-1999, but for the kids, it was all about Shelly, the Arkansas Travelers mascot. Shelly came out and greeted the crowd of 180 people before the evening’s spaghetti dinner.

Event coordinator Scott Head announced a photo session with Shelly in the hallway just after bringing Lucas up to the microphone to speak, and all of the pint-sized people in the Lighthouse cafeteria quickly disbursed.

“Man, Shelly is big time in Jacksonville,” Lucas said as the kids emptied into the hallway.

WatchDOGS (Dads of Great Students) is a father-involvement initiative of the National Center for Fathering started in Springdale in 1998. It was the third meeting at the Lighthouse School for an event that has grown exponentially in a short amount of time. The numerous crock pots full of spaghetti and jugs of iced tea were just enough to go around.

“The first one of these, there were maybe 60 people here, and the second one had about 80 people,” Head said. “Tonight, we counted 180. That’s phenomenal.”

The WatchDOGS program was founded at George Elementary School in Springdale as a response to the shootings at Jonesboro Middle School in 1998.

“It’s just been a huge success,” Head said. “Bringing dads in, asking them to volunteer – one day a year, that’s all we ask. Just spend that day on campus, tutoring kids, mentoring kids, as well as being an extra set of eyes and ears on campus.”

Lucas, who has remained a visible figure in Arkansas since his untimely retirement from the National Football League in the early 2000’s, has a new outlook on life with the recent birth of his 6-month-old daughter Kassidy for him and his wife Davae.

“It’s always awesome just to be able to come out and do things like this,” Lucas said. “Especially for the dads, and the WatchDOGS program. Now that I’m a father, I know how important it is for dads as well as moms to be in kids’ lives.”

Lucas spoke to the group about using disadvantaged home life as motivation towards a better life and avoiding using those disadvantages as a crutch.

“When you’re ready to have kids, you can grow up and be in your child’s life,” He said.

The Lighthouse Charter School, now in its third academic year, started as a kindergarten through sixth grade school, and has expanded by one grade every year. The total number of students is now 626 total between the campus on First Street and Jacksonville and the satellite campus at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“We have a defined mission to be college preparatory,” Lighthouse principle Delano Whitfield said. “We want all of our students to go to college and to graduate from college. We don’t have a mission of just being available to students, we have a mission of coming to school every day, preparing our students to one day graduate from college.”

Whitfield, who attended the University of Arkansas in the late 90s at about the time Lucas was a football star on the hill, remembers attending some of the same social functions as Lucas in those days. “I like to say he knows me,” Whitfield said. “We ran in some of the same circles when we were both in college. It’s been a long time since we’ve touched base, but I’m a Razorback through and through.”

SPORTS>>Red Devils roll over Trojans

Leader sports editor

Some things needed fixing, and some things got fixed around the Red Devil football program. The results showed in Friday’s 41-19 victory over Hot Springs.

We went back to the basics and we had a hard week of practice,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “Went back to technique and we told them, potential is interesting, execution is everything. We had some chance to make some plays and we kept our technique and executed. We played with emotion the right way, with passion. Had good attitudes, they trusted their technique and they followed through with it.”

Hot Springs tied the game at seven apiece with 8:52 left in the second quarter when Flinza Davis caught a 41-yard touchdown pass. From that point, Jacksonville scored the next 34 consecutive points to take a commanding 41-7 lead early in the third quarter.

It started with a 27-yard interception return by junior Kevin Richardson that set the Red Devils up on the Hot Springs 13-yard line. Two plays later, Cortez Brown rumbled 14 yards for the score with 5:06 left in the half.

Another Hot Springs turnover after just two plays gave Jacksonville the ball on the Trojan 31. On third and goal from the seven, quarterback Tirrell Brown found tight end Demerio Williams in the end zone. Frank Porto’s extra point made it 21-7 with 1:30 left in the first half. But Jacksonville wasn’t finished.

Hot Springs mishandled the ensuing kickoff and Michael Thornabar recovered it at the Hot Springs 34. It took just one play, a 34-yard pass from Tirrell Brown to Aaron Smith that made it 28-7 with 1:15 left in the half.

The one plays drives weren’t over.

The Red Devils got the ball to start the second half, and Richardson went 46 yards on the first snap. The extra point was no good, leaving Jacksonville with a 34-7 lead.

Hot Springs finally got some offense going on its next drive. After four plays, 13 yards and a first down, sophomore defensive lineman Darrelle White stripped Trojan running back Rolando Johnson at midfield and carried it the distance for the score.

Porto’s extra point gave Jacksonville a 41-7 lead with 9:15 left in the third quarter.

“Winning fixes a lot of things,” Russell said. “We still have some things we have to tweak. Had a few bad snaps, a few penalties. We have to keep fixing those things because conference starts next week. But they played hard. I’m proud of them.”

Hot Springs added late scores to set the final margin. Quindarien Coleman scored from 14 yards out with 9:53 left in the game to make it 41-13.

After Jacksonville turned it over on downs, quarterback Ryan Morrow scrambled and turned a busted play into a 17-yard scoring run to make it 41-19 with 4:24 left in the game.

Jacksonville scored first. The Red Devils took possession for the second time and marched 54 yards in eight plays with Jacarius Jordan running the last six for the score with 1:21 left in the first quarter.

Hot Springs compiled more total yards than Jacksonville. The Red Devils finished with 225 yards while the Trojans had 273. At halftime Jacksonville led in total yardage 176-93.

Hot Springs distributed the ball evenly, with four different backs finishing in the 50-yards rushing range.

Tirrell Brown completed six of 11 pass attempts for 73 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Aaron Smith had 30 yards rushing on four carries, and two receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Cortez Brown had eight carries for 47 yards and a score. Richardson had two carries for 69 yards and a score.

The Red Devils improved to 1-2 on the season while Hot Springs fell to 0-3. Jacksonville goes on the road to open conference play next week at Mountain Home. The Bombers improved to 3-0 Friday with a 27-20 win over Batesville.

Friday, September 16, 2011

EDITORIAL >>Colleges need Transparency

Thanks to the self-aggrandizing presidents at the University of Central Arkansas and their enabling boards, we are forever learning how higher education works. We were happier ignorant.

Dr. Allen Meadors, the freshly minted president of UCA, wanted more luxurious quarters than the old manse the school provides its presidents, the better for him and his wife to entertain dignitaries. The school was reluctant to spend $700,000 more from scarce university funds to renovate and refurbish the big house and grounds on top of two expensive rounds of improvements the past 10 years, so the president and the chairman of the trustees announced that a generous business— which happened to have the contract to provide food services to the school’s 11,000 students and faculty—was going to donate $700,000 out of the goodness of its heart to spruce up the mansion.

It turned out that Aramark, the big food vendor, was not being philanthropic at all. At the school’s request, it was, in effect, going to lend the school $700,000 in exchange for the school extending its contract for a few years without bidding. Aramark would recover the $700,000 over the next seven years plus much more. These campus food-service contracts are enormously profitable everywhere.

When the truth came out, owing to some nosey newspaper reporting, the president apologized for misleading the board and the public and he agreed to resign if the school paid him the $525,000 he otherwise would earn over the life of his contract. The trustees quickly obliged.

But newspapers and the Arkansas Legislative Council wondered whether Meadors was right when he said everybody was doing business that way, and they inquired of the other Arkansas universities if they were awarding contracts for campus services without bids and getting kickbacks in some form.

Well, yes, the chancellors and presidents of the other schools said, except in their cases it was entirely legal and aboveboard. They do not always require regular competitive bidding for the contract services and they negotiate with the vendors to supply the schools with “gifts” that pay for buildings and other facilities that serve students. The difference is that they would never spend the money on something like the president’s house but rather on facilities that actually serve students. And the institutions’ trustees and anyone else who was interested knew that it was going on.

We thought—and legislators seemed to have the impression, too—that competitive bids were required by law to award remunerative contracts to sell services and commodities to any governmental unit. It turns out that it isn’t the case on university campuses. It ought to be.

G. David Gearhart, the chancellor of the University of Arkansas, pleaded that the practice was not just legal and aboveboard but advantageous for the schools and students—mutually advantageous because obviously it is highly advantageous (profitable) to the companies as well.

He is right in a way. Universities must have parsimonious ways and artifices because it is hard to get state lawmakers and taxpayers to provide enough money to meet the capital and operating needs of the schools, and raising student tuition and fees is unpopular.

The kickback arrangement with contractors achieves a tuition increase through the backdoor. Students are paying for the new buildings and facilities—in UCA’s case greater opulence in the president’s quarters—when they buy their meals, books and other services that are contracted out to private corporations. It just doesn’t occur to them what is happening. Thanks to UCA and some diligent reporting, they now should know.

But would it not be much better—more efficient, more economical, more honest—to be upfront? Take bids on a regular basis, perhaps every four years, to insure that students are served at the lowest possible cost, and then apply tuition and fees openly to pay for auxiliary services—food service as well as housing.

Transparency and honesty make for a happier clientele, and they’re cheaper, too.

TOP STORY > >Cabot man sentenced to 20 years

James Holian, 40, of Cabot was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for killing four people during a road rage incident last September.

A Faulkner County jury found him guilty on Thursday of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four members of the San Felippo family on Hwy. 64 in Vilonia.

Holian will serve his sentence concurrently and is not eligible for parole for 14 years.

The prosecution argued Holian instigated a road rage war with driver Russell Johnston, ending with Johnston crossing the center line, killing the San Felippos.

The road rage incident started at a traffic light and continued for seven to eight miles when Johnston’s car crossed into oncoming traffic near the Vilonia Primary School and struck two vehicles, a 2006 Ford F-150 and a 2007 Cadillac Deville.

The driver and passenger in the F-150 suffered minor injuries; but four of the five San Felippo family members in the 2007 Cadillac were killed and the survivor sustained serious injuries.

Johnston, 30, was ejected from the vehicle and taken to the hospital for treatment. Johnston, who is now paralyzed, will be tried in November.

Holian and Johnston are accused of “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

Holian was also charged with one count of failure to stop after an accident involving injury or death.

Prosecutor Marcus Vaden told the jury, “Four completely innocent people were killed during the course of Holian and Johnston committing the felony of aggravated assault with their vehicles.

“The outrageous behavior of two grown men operating their vehicles in the manner they did and at the extreme speed they did is unbelievable. And in our opinion it amounts to murder.”

Holian erupted on the witness stand Thursday, saying the legal system is flawed and he was tired of being treated as though the Constitution reads “guilty until proven innocent.”

TOP STORY > >JHS honors 300 for high test scores

Leader staff writer

More than 300 Jacksonville High School students were recognized Wednesday morning for doing well on 2010-11 end-of-course exams at the school’s first-ever Academic All-star Pep Assembly in the JHS gymnasium.

All the students received certificates for scoring proficient or better in literacy, math, or two certificates if they scored proficient or better in both areas.

Six students called to the podium to receive certificates in front of the student body for their top scores were Jonah Rodgers, eighth grade math; Taylor Hayden, eighth grade literacy; Quinettra Royster, algebra; Alexandria Williams, geometry; Shanice Triplett, geometry; and Joy Landry, 11th grade literacy. Chedijah Peoples, 11th grade literacy, and Joseph Gomez, algebra, were not present to accept certificates for their top scores.

Principal Henry Anderson encouraged the crowd, saying, “In spring, we’re going to be recognized for phenomenal growth in EOC scores.”

The most popular speaker was JHS football player Erin Davis. He said to his classmates, “We need everybody to be achieving. We need to be champions athletically and academically.

We need people to be recognized for intelligence and academic ability and not for discipline problems.” Students began chanting his first name in support of his message.

It was also announced that the Army National Guard donated $1000 to JHS. Anderson said the funds would be used to provide incentives in the form of awards to students who perform well academically.

The event began and ended with selections played by the JHS band. JHS cheerleaders kicked off the ceremony with a brief routine.

The students who earned certificates also got a break from the school cafeteria. They were treated to a picnic-like feast of hamburgers, hot dogs, sodas and cake at the school’s pavilion following the assembly. Mayor Gary Fletcher helped by serving. Centennial Bank provided the food.

TOP STORY > >Voters reject tax plan for bypass

Leader staff writer

White County voters have said no to a sales tax to help build a bypass around Searcy.

The vote on Tuesday for a one-cent tax to be collected for 21 months was 3,248 against and 2,477 for.

Promoters of the tax said the state wanted a $6 million match before it would give $54 million in federal money to build the bypass that would have started at Highway 13 in McRae, continued north across Beebe Capps Expressway and then turn east to Judsonia. Revenue from the sales tax would have helped pay for the section that runs east to west into Judsonia.

The White County Quorum Court agreed to set aside $1 million a year for three years to pay half the match with the stipulation that the sales tax Searcy would need to pay the other $3 million was countywide so the entire county could benefit from the revenue.

White County Judge Michael Lincoln said in a phone interview after the tax failed on Tuesday that he believes the county will set aside its part as intended and that Searcy will try for a one-cent city sales tax to raise money for its part. In Searcy, 55 percent of those who voted on Tuesday were for the tax so the odds of it passing are good, Lincoln said.

The bypass was originally intended to be built in three sections. The first section from Highway 13 at McRae to Honey Hill Road is still scheduled for construction beginning in September 2012, said Glenn Bolick, spokesman for the highway department.

The second and third sections, the part that the highway department considers the bypass, are not scheduled, but Bolick said they will eventually be built regardless of whether White County or Searcy comes up with money to help pay for the east to west section.

“We don’t have a set date for this to happen,” he said. “As money becomes available and we get the time, we’ll get it done.”

Bolick said if the tax had passed or if Searcy passes a tax to help pay for the bypass it will be built sooner than if the state has to pay for the whole project.

As for the $54 million in federal money available but in need of a $6 million match, Bolick said that number was confusing. The two parts of the project that aren’t already scheduled are estimated at $35 to $40 million. But since the route it will take hasn’t been decided and environmental studies haven’t been completed, there is no definite cost.

A public meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Searcy High School cafeteria so the public can have input about the location of the bypass.

Lincoln said the proposal to build the bypass as one project instead of three originated with then Commissioner Cliff Hoofman and Director Dan Flowers. Neither is associated with the highway department now.

Bolick said projects that have local funding in addition to state funding are usually built before those without it.

The White County Quorum Court voted in April to help fund the project, Lincoln said.

The countywide tax would have raised about $18 million. Of that amount, $3 million was to have gone toward the $6 million match needed to have the project built in one phase instead of three.

Beebe would have received about $1.7 million for its streets. Mayor Mike Robertson said this week that the tax revenue would have paid for paving that the city could not afford otherwise.

The county would have received $8.3 million for county roads.

TOP STORY > >PCSSD looks for a new finance director

Leader staff writer

Pulaski County Special School District’s chief financial officer Anita Farver has resigned a position that placed her at the forefront of investigations into the district’s fiscally distressed coffers.

The reason for the resignation is unclear, but Super-intendent Jerry Guess said in a statement, “Ms. Farver has served the district faithfully for several years and worked tirelessly to manage funds in times of fiscal distress. We appreciate her dedication and hard work and we wish her well in her future endeavors.”

The statement says Farver will be with the district until Sept. 30. She has offered to help with transition to a new chief financial officer.

The job was posted Thurs-day, even though the state has former district financial officer Don Stewart on the cabinet of advisers helping the state get the district out of its financial problems.

Farver was officially named to that position in June 2009, having served as acting chief financial officer for three months before that. She replaced Larry O’Brian, who resigned in March 2009, the same month the district fired then-Superintendent James Sharpe and after an internal investigation into an oversized buyout check that was issued to Sharpe.

Since 2009, PCSSD has been criticized for not putting all of its desegregation funds toward desegregation-relatedexpenses and the Arkansas Legislative Audit Department and the Legislative Joint Auditing Committee have chastised the district for financial mismanagement.

The state Education Depart-ment took over PCSSD in June, dissolving the school board and firing then-superintendent Dr. Charles Hopson.

The audit team has praised Farver’s work with the district on numerous occasions.

Farver has been with the district for four years. She was director of federal programs and professional development from July 2007 until March 2009.

Before coming to PCSSD, Farver was a special assistant to the superintendent for federal programs and assessment at Pine Bluff School District from February 1997 until she joined PCSSD.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

EDITORIAL >> Need jobs like in ’90s

Frankly, we doubt that President Obama’s latest jobs plan will return Arkansas and the country to prosperity, to the halcyon days of 11 years ago when the economy was creating 2.5 million jobs a year, paying off the nation’s debt and raising middle-class livelihoods. But if it is not likely to perform miracles, should we resolve not to do it?

That is the position of the national Republican Party and, alas, our own new Republican delegation in Congress. Simple good works is not enough. The package includes some worthwhile things that will be popular in Arkansas, they said, but it won’t create enough jobs to make much difference and, besides, the president is out politicking with the program. They are offended that the president would play politics with the economy. They would never, never do that.

Obama is making speeches about the jobs plan in the precincts of key Republican leaders in the hope it will build a little steam behind the legislation. But the Republicans are probably right. It is simple political motivation because everyone knows that not one Republican will cast a vote for the president’s plan, and there is nothing that he can do that will change that. Everyone knows it.

But we can contemplate what it might do in Arkansas if it were to pass. Arkansas would get about $1 billion over the next two or three years, which would be a sizable stimulus for economic activity. Most of it—some $645 million—would produce jobs in the construction trades, building and repairing highways, bridges and schools.

Congressman Tim Griffin said that it would be just more of the same kind of pointless stimulus spending that marked the president’s first stimulus bill in 2009. He cited a Republican calculation that the money spent in Arkansas in the next three years totaled $273,000 for every job that was created or saved. Not worth it, he said.

That does sound wasteful. But the government doesn’t simply cut a check to highway contractors to put someone on the payroll. They actually build things that are useful to people, like the mammoth reconstruction of the I-430–I-630 interchange in west Little Rock and major bridge and highway improvements in every part of the state. Much of the money went for asphalt, concrete, steel and the other supplies that gave the workers something to do.

About $300 million of the stimulus would save jobs—policemen, firemen, teachers—that are to be otherwise lost in the cost-cutting of state and local governments. Then the president proposes to again extend unemployment payments to those who lost their jobs in the 2008-2009 downturn and haven’t found new ones. All of it will pump money into the economy and stimulate consumption and demand.

That is what stimulus programs are supposed to do. It is the only way that government has found to stanch the hemorrhaging in a deep economic downturn. Both parties and every president since Franklin Roosevelt who was confronted with a recession have done it in one way or another. It has had mixed success. The Obama stimulus of 2009 stopped the precipitous slide of the previous 18 months, but that is as far as it got.

This recession, like previous ones caused by banking collapse, has been more resilient. The new Obama plan is not apt to put the economy on a burning pace. Until the homeowner crisis is fixed, we are not going to see a return to the glory days. The president proposes a little help in that quarter, but not enough.

Griffin’s solution—his party’s solution—is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy and halt government regulations that are supposed to protect consumers, investors and the environment. How, pray tell, will cutting taxes on corporations and investors create jobs when federal tax rates are already near their lowest levels in 70 years and corporate profits are setting records? Tax and regulatory relief for corporations is a helpful idea for campaign treasuries, but nothing else.

But all of it—the president’s anemic stimulus and the Republicans’ catering to the “crony capitalists,” as Sarah Palin calls them—is pie in the sky. Nothing will happen. This is all about the 2012 election. The unemployed? Who really cares about them?

TOP STORY >> Ward ready for Jamboree

Leader staff writer

The Ward Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Ward Jamboree beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“There’s a lot new this year,” Ward Chamber of Commerce vice president Chris Mann said. “A lot of the leadership has changed this year at the Ward chamber.”

Mann told The Leader the entertainment stage is booked solid from noon to 9 p.m.

This year’s activities will include Bingo games, cake walk, silent auction, booths featuring local crafters, businesses and churches, children’s activities and more.

The entertainment lineup for Saturday is as follows:

12:30 p.m. – Carla’s Dance Studio

1 p.m. – Cornerstone Assembly

2 p.m. – John Michael Vance

3 p.m. – Billy McIlroy

3:30 p.m. – Cassie Lea

4 p.m. – Grace Community

5:45 p.m. – Levy White

6:15 p.m. – Blues Bros

7 to 9 p.m. – Luke Williams Band

“The food menu has changed,” Mann also said. “The vendors have changed. It’s really going to be a makeover for the Jamboree this year. We’re heading in a new direction.”

Mann said chamber members are excited about the jamboree. “We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

A beauty pageant for ages infant to 17 will be held with winners receiving cash prizes and trophies. Pageant sign-up will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the chamber building. Entry forms can be found at For more information about the pageant, contact Kelly Probus at 501-658-9384.

Booth space is still available to rent.

For more information, or to download a vendor booth application, visit or call Mann at 501-941-9987.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood is looking to its big 35th fest

Leader staff writer

Preparations are winding down for the 35th annual Sherwood Fest at Sherwood Forest. It is the city’s biggest event of the year.

The free family-oriented festival off Maryland Avenue includes entertainment, craft booths, food and kids’ activities.

It takes months of planning and coordinating, mostly by volunteers, and the city’s event planner, Amy Jackson.

For Jackson, this year’s gathering is just her second since coming down from New York to taking the event planner’s job. She’s quick to point out that she is not a New Yorker. “I was born and raised in northeast Arkansas, went to Hendrix and worked in Little Rock before my four-year stint in New York.”

She came back because she missed her family and the calmer lifestyle of the South. “And being on the wrong end of downsizing just hastened my return,” she added. “It was a blessing in disguise.”

“Sherwood is great. I really enjoy the work, the good people and the strong community support,” she said.

She said this year’s Sherwood Fest is going to be bigger and better than ever. “I know you hear that all the time, but it’s true,” she said.

The chili cook-off, which had been the night before Sherwood Fest, is now on Saturday; entertainment starts at 9 a.m. and runs through the day.

“We have six local acts, all donating their time and effort. They know the festival will be a great venue for them,” Jackson said.

Our vendors will be set up inside and outside and sell a variety of items such as handbags, makeup, homemade soaps and lotions, local honey, all types of jewelry, birdfeeders, candles and face painting.

Food includes deep fried sweets, turkey legs, Polish sausage, chili, ice cream and shaved ice.

“Sherwood Fest is a growing event and the biggest event the city offers. This year the Sherwood Sharks are sponsoring a family 5K run/walk. The Sherwood Rotary Club is sponsoring a chili cook-off. Centennial Bank continues to host the cute kids contest every year that brings in a big crowd,” Jackson said, adding, “We will also have four local dance teams performing.” The entertainment line-up includes Sherwood’s own The Fragile Elite, Billy D and the First Time Offenders, Iudicia, According to Her, Crystal Gray and Janet, Denise and Bruce.

“Since this is a family event there will be a lot of kids’ activities – arts/crafts, Mommy Magic, guitar hero contest, climbing wall, inflatable houses and more,” Jackson said.

The complete list of activities and entertainment is on the website

Even though the festival is just days away, more vendors and activities are being slated and more help is always needed, Jackson said.

“We need more volunteers for Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help with set up and break down,” she said.

The animal shelter, which will have animals at the festival, can also use some help.

The festival takes months to plan, but it is not the only activity on Jackson’s agenda. She also works to bring residents and visitors to the annual fishing derby, Easter egg hunt, the July Fourth festivities, the Halloween carnival, the Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights, the festival of Trees and Breakfast with Santa.

“The Sherwood Advertising and Promotions Commission sponsors most of these events. They give back to the community by providing these mostly free events to the community,” Jackson said.

Sherwood Fest and all the other city events wouldn’t be successful without the help of all the committee members as well as sponsors, city staff and volunteers.

Even though the days are long right now finalizing all the details for Sherwood Fest, Jackson said, “I’m very happy working for the Parks and Recreation Department and the people within the department. I’ve learned a lot about working in city government and feel I’ve brought a lot to the table with my past work experience. Sherwood is a great community with a lot of people who work hard to make it even better.”

When she does get some time off Jackson travels and dotes on her young nephew. “I travel as much as I can, spent my birthday in San Francisco and returning to New York City in the fall to visit friends, shop and enjoy the food and culture. I also have a 1-year old nephew that I’m absolutely crazy about.”

TOP STORY >> Cabot public works director retires

Leader staff writer

Cabot Public Works director Jerrel Maxwell retired last week after working for the city the past 14 years. A retirement dinner was held for Maxwell on Thursday letting co-workers and friends wish him well on his retirement.

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) presented Maxwell with a state Senate citation for his work with the city.

The 69-year-old was a builder before he was hired as a city building inspector in 1997 under former Cabot Mayor Joe Allman.

Maxwell and his wife, Lynn, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, plan to travel and go camping. They would like to visit Yellowstone National Park.

“I’ve enjoyed working for the city and serving the citizens of this town. I enjoyed working with the council and the planning commission,” Maxwell said.

He said he is most proud of drainage improvements, the city worked on to help control flooding and the adding of a lane on Locust Street.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said, “Jerrel is an honorable, dedicated city employee. He is very knowledgeable and has done a lot for the city. I’m sure he and his family will be assets to the community. I wish him very well in his retirement.”

Former Mayor Joe Allman said he and Maxwell have been friends since 1963. Maxwell went to work for the city in 1997 as a building inspector when new home construction was hot in the city.

“Jerrel is a good man and he’ll be missed by the city,” Allman said.

Before being elected state senator, Eddie Joe Williams, as Cabot’s mayor, worked four years with Maxwell.

“You can hire a person with an education but you can’t hire them with a heart,” Williams said.

He said Maxwell had a work ethic that surpassed everyone. His retirement is a loss for the city.

“He was my right-hand man,” Williams said.

Cypert said Maxwell’s position remains unfilled. The city is re-working the job description and plans to do a nationwide search for a new public works director.

TOP STORY >> Helping troubled districts not easy

Leader staff writer

The state Board of Education heard a mixed bag of results involving recipients of school-improvement grants at its meeting Monday.

Jacksonville High School was awarded one of those grants in June. The $2 million it received will be used to promote academic achievement through more technology and professional development for teachers.

The grant is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, awarded by the Department of Higher Education and can be renewed for two additional years if the school uses the money appropriately and exhibits positive results. The school would receive the same amount for the second year and $1.7 million for the third year, for a total of $5.7 million.

To be eligible for the grant, a school must consistently be in the lowest 5 percent of performing schools in the state and replace most of the teachers or replace the principal. A former JHS principal announced his retirement at the graduation ceremony in May and the school has welcomed Henry Anderson to the position.

The report didn’t mention the progress JHS has made with the grant because it’s too soon to tell, but it did shed light on how effective and ineffective throwing money at distressed schools can be.

J.A. Fair High School in Little Rock saw increased test scores for each end-of-course area with double-digit growth in algebra one and geometry, said Dr. Laura Bednar with the Arkansas Department of Education.

Osceola Middle School in northeast Arkansas also saw double-digit growth. Osceola High School improved in three out of the four areas, but fell 6 percent in biology.

Scores at Hall High School in Little Rock stayed about the same. The school saw 1 percent growth in end-of-course biology, but a one percent decrease in algebra and a four percent decrease in literacy. Cloverdale Middle School in Little Rock also experienced a slight drop in their scores.

North Little Rock’s Rose City Middle School saw declines in all areas at all grade levels, with the exception of a slight increase in eighth-grade math scores.

The biggest success of the grant program was Trusty Elementary School in Fort Smith, which experienced “incredible growth in math and literacy scores at all levels,” Bednar said.

The school’s gains were double-digit at every level. She attributed the school’s improvement to the commitment of the district, parents, teachers, staff and the community.

She added, “They have all come together around that school.”

Board member Vicki Saviers said, “What you (Bednar) said about the administration in Fort Smith was, I think, real important for our board to hear as we proceed to look at academic distress because you can only do so much, the department can only do so much, the U.S. Department of Education can only do so much. But at the end of the day, the community and the district has to take responsibility for these schools and, really, in some instances, that hasn’t happened for years and didn’t happen even at these schools with this focus and special attention.

If it can happen in Fort Smith it can happen in Little Rock, at Osceola. I just hope we’ll all remain focused on a way to relate the opportunity to do something about this instead of watching these chronically under-achieving schools persist.”

One of the issues Bednar emphasized was that the successful programs started at some of the schools might not be sustainable when the grant money is gone. She also said many of the schools are using the funds to hire outside consultants, but the department hopes there will be less of that this year because the grants are meant to help the schools improve and sustain improvements on their own.

She also reminded the members of the new schools, including Jacksonville, that received the grant this year. She added that a new school improvement grant site director has been hired at Jacksonville High School to spend four days a week at the school and one day a week at the department. The director, who was hired by Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell and former Pulaski County Special School District Superintendent Bobby Lester, will help the school meet its grant requirements.

The board also heard the 2010-11 results and three-year performance summary for the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science (AAIMS), which Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School were accepted in to last week.

The research and data presented by Tommie Sue Anthony of AAIMS concluded that the program has dramatically increased student achievement in rigorous math and science courses, replicated a model (the advanced placement program) that has worked for all students statewide, changed the culture of expectations, made the state’s public school students globally competitive and helped close an achievement gap in math and science by increasing participation and performance of minority students in the advanced placement program.

Anthony expressed her hopes for JHS, explaining that she was a teacher there and started the school’s advanced-placement program.

“It is very important to me that Jacksonville gets back what it once had. I want to see it turnaround,” she said.

Kimbrell said, “You’re creating tomorrow’s work. Arkansas has to step up to create better opportunities for our students…They’re (schools in Taiwan) trying to build a relationship with Arkansas.

“We want this relationship because Taiwan is doing so many things with STEM (science, math, engineering and math). She (Kimbrell’s daughter) won’t be competing with kids from Pulaski County or Little Rock. She’ll be competing with 11-year-olds in Taiwan and other places,” Kimbrell said.

TOP STORY >> School candidates in Cabot state views

Before Cabot’s school board election Tuesday, The Leader asked the candidates to share their views on the direction of the growing district and how they could contribute to its success.

Early voting is under way and will continue from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until Friday and again Monday in the Cabot City Annex at 208 N. First St.

On Tuesday, voting will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 204 North Third St., and Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 163 Mt. Carmel Road.

For Position 2, the candidates are Brian Evans, Lonnie Lane and Helen Teffer.

Donna Nash is unopposed for Position 6 after Terrance Townsend dropped out of the race, though too late for his name to be removed from the ballot.

Evans, 42, is a division manager at Addison Transportation, a Cabot-based trucking company. He has lived in Cabot for 10 years.

He and his wife have two children, third-grader Laina, 9, and first-grader Landon, 6. They attend Southside Elementary.

Evans was salutatorian at McCrory High School in 1986. He studied business management and communications at Arkansas State University in 1991.

Lane, 40, is an insurance adjuster for Safeco Insurance. He has lived in Cabot since 1978. He graduated from Cabot High School in 1989. He has three children, Jackson, 10, a fifth-grader at Cabot Middle School South; Abigail, 5, a kindergartener at Eastside Elementary, and Maddox, 2, who attends the Child Development Center at Cabot United Methodist Church.

Teffer retired from the Cabot School District in 2010 after a 20-year career. She was the superintendent’s and school board’s administrative assistant for 10 years. Prior to that, she was a school office manager, a substitute teacher and an office clerk.

She and her husband have lived in Cabot for more than 21 years. Their children are grown and now live out of state. She considers all Cabot students as her children and the key to the city’s future.

Nash is a retired teacher. She taught for 28 years, 23 of which were in the Cabot School District. Both of her children, Brooklynn and Mike, are graduates of Cabot High School.

Her son and his wife teach in the district. She has lived in Cabot for more than 30 years.

Why would you make a good school board member?

Evans: Throughout my career, I have been noted as having the ability to work well within a team and being able to support group decisions. I understand that the board sets a climate for the entire district. In my career as an intermediary, I have to work hard toward keeping a strong relationship between two separate entities.

The same philosophy applies to the relationship between the district and the public it serves. I am a professional who believes in giving respect for diverse points of view, while holding strong in my beliefs that we have a responsibility to meet the needs of every student, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds.

Lane: I would be a good member of the school board because of my concern for my children and others’ children in our schools. This is my hometown and my school district, and I want it to continue to progress as it has during my lifetime.

Teffer: I believe my broad knowledge of our school district makes me an ideal candidate. I had the privilege of working with four superintendents and many, many board members over a 10- year period and more than 100 school board meetings.

I saw firsthand what it takes to be an effective board member. I had a front-row seat for where we were and how we accomplished the great changes that have taken place. In addition, because of my experience, I have worked with parents and community leaders as well as all department heads in the district.

You can’t ask pertinent questions unless you know what you are talking about. Although we are a large “business” we are not about making a profit unless you are talking about our students’ achievements.

On a personal level, I am ethical. Follow the written rules. Do not make your own interpretation to suit yourself.

Nash: After 28 years as a classroom teacher, I understand how a school district should work. I know what students need to be successful. In addition, I know what administrators and faculty need to assist students in their success.

How much time will you be able to give to the job? 

Evans: I am committed and have the support of my company to give as much time as needed to this position. We are a family-comes-first type company. Our company is built on family values. Being in management at a local office, I have the ability to utilize the time and energy required each week for meetings, conversations, visits to schools and professional-development seminars as needed.

Lane: I work from home and my boss is in Indianapolis, so I have quite a bit of freedom in my day. There is good and bad when working from a laptop and cell phone. The flexibility is great, but work is on my desk after office hours.

Teffer: I’m retired so my time is my own. Serving on the board will always be a priority. My telephone number, website and e-mail will be available to everyone.

Nash: I am retired and have ample time to devote to my school board position.

What are the district’s strengths?

Evans: Without a doubt, our strength is the staff of the Cabot School District. We are led by a great administrative staff and have great principals and faculty at each of our schools. As a parent of Cabot students, I see firsthand the incredible teachers that we have, and how they continually go beyond their normal duties to make a difference with our children. If you want to experience true love for a child and dedication to their futures, spend the day in a Cabot classroom.

Lane: The district’s strengths are its leadership and its faculty. Dr. Thurman is doing a great job leading the ever-growing district. The faculty, some who were teaching when I was in school and some who were in school with me, are great and very self-sufficient.

I was very surprised by how much the teachers had to purchase themselves when my oldest started school at Eastside (the elementary school I attended). Whether it is things they want for their classroom or supplies for those who can’t afford them, the faculty provides what they can. Parents chip in as well. We are all a team.

Teffer: Each of CSD’s 1,300 employees, the parents, students and the community contribute to the high-quality education for which Cabot is well known. Everyone working together to reach a common goal, which is to prepare our kids for the future.

Nash: The district has many strengths, but its most important strengths are the employees in the district. We continue to recruit and train the best possible employees. Our reputation on a state and national level proves this.

Are there problems with the district you would like to correct or programs you would like to implement?

Evans: School districts are complex corporations. For Cabot, the district is the largest employer in our community. The decisions that are made by our board affect jobs, resources and most importantly, the education of all our children.

Because of tremendous growth in student population, we have the good problem of the ability to grow in infrastructure and staff to meet our student needs. This doesn’t stop within the walls of the school. It must be a joint cooperative with the city. Tough decisions will have to be made by our elected officials to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of every student in our district.

Our children are faced with many challenges today that generations before were never witness to. Being a parent of Cabot students and a volunteer in our school and city youth programs, I see this first hand. To truly adopt the “It’s About Kids” mentality, we have to be able to always put aside personal agendas and operate for the greater good, our children.

Lane: There are problems in any district, but none that can’t be overcome. Some of our schools are overcrowded, some have too few students to justify the number of teachers in a certain grade. I know that was the case last year for fourth- grade at Eastside. We were given the option to move our child to Stagecoach due to one of the fourth-grade teachers being moved to Stagecoach because the fourth-grade numbers were higher there. Of course we stayed at Eastside. My kids get a kick out of the fact they attend the same school I did.

Teffer: Better communications within the district, but also with the parents and community. Even if it is only a suggestion box where people can voice a concern anonymously. Then have a link on the district website where these questions are posted and answered. Start somewhere.

I see an even greater future for our district, and I want to be a part of making that happen. I would appreciate your vote.

Nash: Facing the challenges of continued growth is a major problem. Unfortunately, growth is beyond our control. That is the price we pay for a good school system. I would work with the system’s administration and other board members to make solid decisions in regard to the allocation of funds.

Compiled by Leader staff writer Joan McCoy and Leader editor Jonathan Feldman.

SPORTS >> Bears look to build on last week’s win

Leader sportswriter

When Jim Withrow says sparks will fly as his Sylvan Hills team hosts Little Rock Parkview at Bill Blackwood Field this Friday, he may be more facetious than hyperbolic.

“It’s like coach (Nolan) Richardson used to say: ‘We’d like to be riding smooth, but right now, we’re on a tricycle with one wheel,’” Withrow said.

But the Bears, now 1-1, showed great improvement last week in a 20-13 victory over Little Rock Christian Academy after suffering a mistake-prone 45-14 loss at the hands of Vilonia to start the season.

Defense carried the day against the Warriors last week, particularly the secondary, where senior cornerback Javion Ailsworth ended one LRCA drive with an interception and took it back most of the way. Senior DeMarcus Willis also came away with a pick and took it back 88 yards for a touchdown, but it was junior defensive back Michael Neal’s interception that really caught Withrow’s attention.

“He’s as good a player as you’ll see,” Withrow said. “He went up with one hand and simultaneously caught it with their receiver and just took it away from him.”

Withrow credited defensive backs coach Rocky Fawcett for having the secondary ready against Christian’s Spread passing attack.

Turnovers are a concern for the Bears this week against a Patriots team that has capitalized on giveaways in the first two weeks. Parkview started its season with a 39-12 victory over metro rival Mills and defeated Pine Bluff Dollarway 30-14 last Friday.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” Withrow said. “We’ve got to have long drives. If we end up giving them the short field, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Strong defensive play is not the only similarity between the two teams. Both have good team speed, and although Parkview is a 6A team and Sylvan Hills 5A, they are close in numbers. In fact, Sylvan Hills started the year with 49 players on its roster compared to 41 for Parkview.

“That’s what it looks like,” Withrow said. “There’s not a whole lot of difference between the 5A and 6A schools if you look at the enrollment numbers. They should have a little more depth, but it’s close.”

The Patriots, under fifth-year coach William Hardiman, are junior strong with quarterback Caelon Harden and tailback Rashad Earls. Defensively, junior linebacker Leonce Eloch and classmate Eric Nathaniel at cornerback lead the opportunistic group.

With a victory already to the Bears’ credit, winning against an impressive Parkview team this week could give them enough momentum to be serious contenders with the start of their 5A-Southeast Conference schedule on the road at White Hall next week.

“I think it’s all about the type of kids you have but for this group, it was a good shot in the arm,” Withrow said. “We had so many people telling us we had to win last week, but you’re conference record is the one that matters.”

SPORTS >> Undefeated teams risk everything

Leader sportswriter

Someone’s perfect season will end this week when Carlisle travels to Frank McClellan Field to take on Barton on Friday.

Both teams enter the game undefeated through the first two weeks. The Bison ripped Riverview 42-6 to start the year and backed it up with an impressive 30-21 road victory over a tough Bauxite team last Friday.

Barton downed DeWitt 21-7 in Week 1 and also won on the road last week in a 48-22 clubbing of Clarendon.

“They’re a talented ball club,” Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. “They have skill guys that can take it long. They lost 15 seniors last year and we lost 10, so we’re in the same boat as far as that goes.”

The Bears have overcome inexperience in their backfield with sophomore quarterback Laquarius Hall, who had solid performances against DeWitt and Clarendon. Senior fullback- linebacker Ethan Roberts has been Barton’s go-to guy this year with 175 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Clarendon, along with 12 tackles on the defensive side.

But for coach Van Paschal, now in his second year at Barton after a successful run at 5A program Monticello, youth is not as big a concern as limited depth.

“We’ve lost about one a week,” Paschal said. “We had one go out with a shoulder injury against DeWitt, we lost another to a thumb injury in practice. We just don’t have much depth. If that continues, it’s going to be tough.”

That could be an issue this week against a Carlisle team that boasts considerably more depth than a typical 2A program.

“We’re excited about our team,” Waymire said. “We lost a lot, but we’ve got those guys like Zac King, our three-year starting quarterback, those guys who have been out there.”

The meeting between Carlisle and Barton is also a matchup of two programs steeped in tradition. And while few in the state match Barton’s eight state championships under legendary coach Frank McClellan, including four straight from 1986-89, Paschal said the present is not quite as easy.

“He did a great job of building that,” Paschal said. “But we tell our kids that last year is gone. The way people look at it these days, you’re only as good as your last performance. We’ve had some growing pains, but we haven’t laid down and we’ve competed.”

SPORTS >> Mirror images face off in Beebe

Leader sportswriter

East meets West when Vilonia visits A.S. “Bro” Erwin Stadium on Friday to face Beebe. The Badgers of the 5A-East Conference picked up their first victory of the season last Friday with a dramatic performance over Lonoke in which they erased a 21-point deficit through the last three quarters.

The Eagles of the 5A-West Conference suffered their first loss last week against Wynne, another 5A-East program. They opened their season with a 45-14 blowout over Sylvan Hills while the Badgers lost to Greenbrier.

Hwy. 64 is not the only common bond between the two programs. Coach Jim Stanley of Vilonia and Beebe coach John Shannon share common philosophies of ball control and run-oriented offenses, and both have strict work ethics.

“We’re pretty much equally matched from that standpoint,” Shannon said. “I think it’s going to come down to who can impose their will on the other one. It’s going to be a battle – which team makes turnovers could be the deciding factor.”

Vilonia’s reputation as a strong running team precedes them with senior running back James Sax. But talented sophomore Houston Cotton has also looked impressive in the first two games. The Eagles also have a bruising fullback in Jacob Weidmier (5-10, 240) for short-yardage situations.

Sax was a difference maker last year during Vilonia’s 41-14 victory over Beebe.

“He’s pretty doggone good,” Shannon said. “He’s gotten better every year. Last year, they moved him to fullback and let him be a big bruiser, and this year, they’ve got him back at the wingback spot. So if we’re not able to get good angles on him, we could be in trouble.”

Beebe has had plenty to be excited about with its own running game. Last week, quarterback Dustin Stallnacker and halfback Jay Holdway combined for nearly 300 yards rushing and a pair of scores against Lonoke. The Badgers have also shown good depth in the backfield with sophomore fullback Eric Thorn and halfbacks Jeremy Van Winkle and Rory Moore.

But one question mark for the Badgers is junior halfback Michael Kirby, who went out of the Lonoke game before halftime with an injury to his left shoulder. X-rays over the weekend were unclear – one indicated a broken collarbone, but another appeared to show a simple shoulder sprain.

“That’s the best case scenario,” Shannon said. “Right now, he’s out. He’s going to the doctor (on Monday), and we’ll go from there. Whatever they tell us will determine how long he will be out.”

Though he would prefer not to fall behind Vilonia on the scoreboard at all come Friday, Shannon now has the confidence that his team can come back from deficits after last week’s comeback at Lonoke.

“I felt like our kids didn’t quit,” Shannon said. “We told them at halftime to keep plugging away, and our kids did that.”

SPORTS >> Devils must play it forward

Leader sports editor

When the Hot Springs Trojan bus rolls into Jan Crow Stadium on Friday, it brings a team with many similarities to the their week 3 hosts. Hot Springs is similar to the Red Devils in more ways than one.

Both teams are 0-2, and both have made mistakes that gave their opponents more than enough help in winning.

Jacksonville’s football team had another moment in week 2 where things broke down. There were some bad breaks that left the Red Devils in a hole. For the second time, they were unable to overcome mistakes.

Last Friday’s 41-14 loss to Benton was close until a barrage of touchdowns turned a 7-6 Benton lead with less than two minutes to go in the first half into a 28-6 Benton lead by halftime.

Two special teams mishaps and an offensive turnover aided the three Panther scores that closed the second quarter.

After an great start to the second half, in which Jacksonville scored in just two plays to make it a 28-14 game, the team started pressing and as a result, lost some technique.

Red Devils coach Rick Russell says changing that is one of the keys to his team changing the way its season has gone.

“We have to learn to trust our technique and follow through with it,” Russell said. “Sometimes when we’re down, we try to do more than our technique requires. We showed them the film. It’s pretty crystal clear, offensively and defensively, why things broke down.”

Things haven’t gone very well for the Trojans so far either. The class 5A team lost 34-28 to Joe T. Robinson to start the season, then fell 18-7 to class 3A Glen Rose last Friday.

In Hot Springs, Jacksonville gets to face a team that runs a very similar offense to its own. Something Russell says is a plus.

“It helps in preparation during the week,” Russell said. “You’re reacting more than learning because you’ve already seen it.”

Hot Spring also brings a similar group of players to Jan Crow Stadium. The Trojans aren’t exceptionally big or deep, but they do have speed, and they will try to utilize it by finding openings on the outside.

“They’re very similar to us on offense,” Russell said. “They run some of the same formations. They have good slot receivers and running backs. Their running backs are more dangerous because they’re going to run it more than they throw it. They try to get athletes out in space on the edge and they’re pretty fast. They have some good athletes just like we do.”

All the similarities probably means the team that does better at eliminating mistakes will put its first notch in the W column.

Jacksonville’s biggest problem though hasn’t been initial mistakes but the problems that compound afterwards. After the loss to Benton, Russell said, “When a sudden change occurs, we have to find a way to get over that and comeback ready for the next possession. We have to work on the negatives and not get down on ourselves.”

The head Red Devil was very optimistic coming into the season, and remains so, believing the team is only a breakthrough away from being the team he expects.

“We’re still fighting,” Russell said. “It’s just little things. We’re still fighting the little things that keep us from becoming the team we think we can become. We just have to realize that mistakes happen, things go wrong, and when they do, there’s still a lot of football to be played. We have to learn to stay focused for four quarters.

SPORTS >> Cabot looking at yet another tough contest

Leader sports editor

The good thing about regular-season, nonconference football, is no matter how poorly things go one week, there’s another game next week to help erase any bad memories. Cabot looks to do that this week after suffering a bad loss to Pulaski Academy, but the task doesn’t get much easier.

Up next on the Panthers’ docket is a long road trip to play three-time runner up and one-time state champion Springdale Har-Ber.

Har-Ber will also be looking to put a loss behind it. The Wildcats lost 27-20 to two-time defending class 6A state champion El Dorado last week.

Cabot coach Mike Malham says his team has done a good job of putting last week’s game behind it.

“Win or lose, you got to get ready for the next one,” Malham said. “The next one is the only one you can do anything about. We have one heck of a team we have in front of us and if we’re not ready it’s going to be a long game.”

The Panthers have a very young secondary that was overmatched in size and experience last week. They also fielded a defense that had lost two starters to injury, but Malham wasn’t entirely displeased with his team’s effort.

“It wasn’t hard to see the mismatches PA had,” Malham said. “You could see the difference. But the kids played hard, and we’ll go up there (Springdale) and play hard and see what happens. We’re not going up there to not play hard. I don’t want to drive three and a half hours to just get off the bus and go get our butts kicked.”

Cabot and Har-Ber have faced each other each of the last four seasons, all four times in the playoffs with the Wildcats winning every time. Cabot knows it has a tough team ahead of it, despite the loss to El Dorado last week.

“El Dorado is a heck of a team, too,” Malham said. “They’ve won class 6A the last two years, they have a bunch of athletes, and they played a knockdown dragout up there. That was two good football teams. This is another big challenge.”

Har-Ber hasn’t changed in strategy over the years. The Panthers know what to expect.

The Wildcat offense centers around their big quarterback, senior Jon Vaughn. While not as mobile as Pulaski Academy’s Fredi Knighten, Vaughn can move, and his 6’4”, 200-pound frame is a load to bring down.

“He’s a hard-nosed kid, 200-pounder who runs well,” Malham said. “He can throw it. He’ll run the stretch and they’ll run the quarterback draw. You have to be ready to defend it all.”

Defending it all will be a bit more difficult this week. Starting defensive end Brandon Schiefelbein suffered a concussion last week. Cabot lost defensive tackle Kyle Sturgeon for the season in week 1, and defensive back Jordan Burke is out for at least a month with a broken bone.