Saturday, November 03, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle grinds out win over England

Leader sports editor

Carlisle was never able to slam the door shut on England Friday night, but the Bison were able to steadily pull away from the Lions for a 30-14 victory in the regular-season finale at Fred C. Hardke Field. The win, combined with Des Arc’s huge upset of Hazen, gives the Bison their third consecutive conference championship with a 6-1 league record. Hazen still gets the No. 1 seed from the 2A-6 conference due to its 16-14 win over Carlisle four weeks ago.

Carlisle dominated time of possession, especially in the first half. The Bison held the ball for all but 58 seconds in the first quarter. Their first drive went 67 yards in 14 plays including one fourth-down conversion. Fullback Josh Mathis got the last 5 yards with his first carry. The two-point conversion made it 8-0 with 4:35 left to play.

England’s drive lasted 58 seconds and went three and out. Carlisle took over at its own 24 and put together another good drive that ended in controversy.

Halfback and leading rusher Deron Ricks’ first carry came on the 11th play of the drive and went 8 yards for a touchdown on third and goal from the 8. But Ricks was called for illegal procedure for leaping over an England defender and the touchdown was waved off. Quarterback Chris Hart threw incomplete on third and 13 and Ricks kicked a 30-yard field goal on fourth down to make it 11-0 with 9:47 left in the first half.

England went nowhere on its next drive and used just 2:21 of the clock and Carlisle marched down the field again. The Bison made it to the Lions’ 10-yard line, but defensive back Josh Fudge picked off a Hart pass in the end zone and returned it 65 yards before Hart chased him down at the Carlisle 35-yard line.

This time the Lions were able to punch it in, scoring on a 10-yard run by Curtis Rogers with 59 seconds left in the half.

The two-point try failed and it remained 11-6 at the break.

England got the ball to start the second half but turned it over on downs at the Carlisle 48-yard line.

The Bison went 52 yards in nine plays to score and take a 17-6 lead. Mathis scored again from the 2-yard line but was stopped on the two-point attempt.

England ran just two plays before fumbling on its next drive. Junior linebacker Jacob Jones covered it for Carlisle at the England 38-yard line.

Nothing came easy for Carlisle. It took 10 plays to go 38 yards, but the Bison kept plugging and eventually scored on a 7-yard run by Ricks. The two-point conversion again failed, leaving it 23-6 with 9:42 left in the game.

England put together its best drive of the game on the ensuing possession, going 53 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Tyrik Harris hit Derrell Drayer for an 18-yard touchdown pass. The same duo hooked up for the two-point conversion to make it 23-14 with 7:13 left in the game.

Carlisle put the game away with its next time-consuming drive. The Bison went 53 yards in 11 plays, including two fourth-down conversions. Ricks leaped over the pile from the 1-yard line with 59 seconds left in the game for the final touchdown.

Carlisle (8-1, 6-1) finished with 323 total yards while England (7-3, 5-2) had just 120.

Carlisle will host a first-round playoff game next Friday at Hardke Field.

SPORTS STORY >> South beats North for league title

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Junior High South freshmen sealed their second conference championship in three years when they beat Cabot Junior High North 16-0 Tuesday at Panther Stadium. The win capped a 9-1 season and earned the Panthers the outright Central Arkansas Junior High Conference championship. CJHS and Bryant entered the final week of the season tied for first place, but Bryant fell to Benton on Tuesday, leaving the South Panthers alone at the top.

South’s only loss this season was also against Benton, who finished 8-2, when four starters missed the game for various reasons, mostly for injuries.

“This team lost one game in seventh and eighth grade so I knew the potential was there,” South coach Lee Melder said. “We just weren’t playing together as a team early on this year like we were when we finished. This group really came together and started playing good football these last few weeks.”

Melder frets game week when the cross-town rival is on the schedule, and he finally breathed a sigh of relief after the two-point conversion that followed the second touchdown of the game. On that play, South quarterback Lake Boyett rolled left to pass. The throw was batted down, but batted right back into Boyett’s hands with nothing but the end zone in front of him.

“When you see that sort of thing happen you start to think it’s probably your night,” Melder said. “I hate playing North because they play so hard and it’s always such a tough game. I’d rather play North Little Rock 10 times than play Cabot North once, so we’ll take it anyway we can get it. The same thing happened to them later on in the game and we were able to sack them for a loss, so things went our way tonight.”

North controlled the ball for most of the game. Each team got just three possessions, but South scored on its first two and were at the North 11-yard line when time expired.

North’s opening possession stopped at the South 33 when Boyett tipped a pass and Mark Odom picked it off for the South Panthers.

South started there and needed eight plays to go 67 yards. Boyett got the last 12 on an option keeper and got the two-point conversion the same way with no time on the clock at the end of the first quarter.

North started its next drive at its own 35-yard line and drove 14 plays to the South 12-yard line. But on fourth down and 3 yards to go, fullback Jacob Bailey could only muster a yard and South took over on downs deep in its own territory with 24 seconds left in the half. Halfback Dillon Buchanan went 38 yards on a sweep left to close the half.

South got the ball to start the second half and drove 67 yards in nine plays for its second touchdown. Another sweep to Buchanan picked up 30 of those yards and set up first and goal at the 3-yard line. Holland got the rest on the next play before the bizarre completed pass capped the scoring on the two-point attempt.

“They moved up and down the field on us and controlled the ball most of the game,” Melder said. “Fortunately our defense was able to make some plays every time they got close.”

South finished with 234 total yards while North managed 101. Buchanan led all rushers with 70 yards on three carries.

SPORTS STORY >> Bruins rout Red Devils, win Central

Leader sportswriter

Pulaski Academy’s prolific passing attack was too much for Jacksonville as the Bruins coasted to a 51-7 victory over the Red Devils at Jan Crow Stadium on Thursday to wrap up the 5A Central conference title with an unbeaten run.

Bruins senior quarterback Lawson Vassar completed 33 of 47 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions by the Red Devils. Pulaski Academy (8-2, 7-0) had 543 total yards of offense.

Jacksonville (6-4, 5-2) could not get its running game going with just 27 yards on the ground. The Red Devils had 245 total yards, as senior quarterback Aaron Smith completed 14 of 15 passes for 161 yards before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury. Junior Reggie Barnes finished up the game behind center for Jacksonville.

Things started out on a positive note for Jacksonville as the Red Devil defense forced a turnover when junior linebacker Durrell White hit Vassar from behind just as he went to make a pass, jarring the ball free. Junior defensive end Titus O’Neal was there for the short interception and took the ball 79 yards for what ended up as Jacksonville’s only score.

“They’re a good football team,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said of Pulaski Academy. “They had a couple of extra possessions because of the onside kick. Second half, we started doing a little better job. They’re just a good football team.”

The Bruins quickly tied the game with a seven-play drive following Jacksonville’s score, and took the lead in the opening minute of the second quarter, 15-7.

Pulaski Academy took control from there as George Friedmann recovered an onside kick for the Bruins to set up their next scoring drive, and another successful onside kick late in the half denied Jacksonville of possession again.

Red Devils senior defensive back Kevin Richardson denied another Pulaski Academy score in the final minute of the half when he intercepted a Vassar pass in the end zone, but with 35 seconds left on the clock, Jacksonville did not have enough time to convert the opportunity into a score, leaving the margin at 29-7 at halftime.

The Bruins scored quickly on all of their first-half drives, but moved the ball more meticulously in the second half. They forced Jacksonville to go three and out to start the third quarter before going on an eight play, 88-yard drive that ended with a 60-yard touchdown run by Tyler Colquitt at the 6:39 mark to make it 36-7.

Pulaski Academy finally reached the sportsmanship/timing margin late in the third quarter with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Vassar to Daniel Vogel to give the Bruins a 44-7 lead, while backup quarterback Will Hefley set the final margin with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Will Hastings with 7:48 remaining.

O’Neal’s pick early in the game stood as one of the few highlights for Jacksonville, as the junior broke free on the right side and went untouched the entire 79-yard distance. O’Neal’s enthusiasm got the best of him at the end of the play as he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a dive-and-roll into the end zone. Sophomore kicker John Hermann was still able to convert the point-after attempt to give the Red Devils an early 7-0 lead.

“We played hard. We played with emotion,” Russell said. “Titus has gotten better all year long. He plays with a lot of heart. He goes full speed, and he deserves that success. He was in the right spot and played good technique, and it worked out for him.”

Senior Brandon Brockman led the Red Devils in receiving with five catches for 94 yards. For Pulaski Academy, Hunter Henry had eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown while Vogel had 12 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. L.J. Wallace caught nine passes for 95 yards.

The Red Devils had to await the winner between Mills University Studies and Helena-West Helena Central on Thursday to determine their seeding for next week’s 5A state playoffs. The Comets took care of business as expected to capture the No. 2 seed, bumping Jacksonville back to the No. 3 seed.

SPORTS STORY >> Wildcats slow out of gate, dominate

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock was in a dogfight for about three quarters Thursday at North Little Rock Stadium. Little Rock Central scored on a kickoff return and strangely enough, on an incomplete pass, to pull within seven points late in the third quarter. But the Charging Wildcats scored 21 unanswered points in the last 14 minutes to put away the tough Tigers and win 42-14, finishing conference play perfect at 7-0.

The Charging Wildcats’ defense was stellar throughout the game and the offense moved the ball effectively, but struggled to score in the early going. North Little Rock led just 7-0 at halftime despite holding a huge advantage in total yards, 265-81.

“We left what, at least 14 points on the field going into halftime,” North Little Rock coach Brad Bolding said. “We have to do a better job of capitalizing on those opportunities. But look, you’ve got to give credit to Central. They had a good game plan coming in and I don’t think we made adjustments like we need to until halftime.”

Central made the home team pay for those missed opportunities quickly in the second half.

Kicker Sandy Burkes sent the opening kickoff of the second half over the Central deep man’s head. Logan Moragne picked it up at the 2-yard line, started left and was never touched as he raced 98 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, leaving it 7-6 with 11:45 left in the third quarter.

Central had three long kick returns. Another would lead to Central’s second score of the game, but not until the Wildcats put 14 on the board to take a 21-6 lead.

After the Tigers’ first touchdown, North Little Rock took over on its own 43-yard line and went to the air. Quarterback Payton Holmes was incomplete on his first throw, but then hit Rodney Bryson on back-to-back plays totaling 44 yards to the Central 13. Two carries by Altee Tenpenny and one by Deion Tidwell left it fourth and 3 at the 6-yard line.

Heath Land then went under center for what was supposed to be a lob outside, but the Tigers had that covered. Land abandoned the designed first option, stood in the pocket as pressure came and found senior receiver Bailey Williams in the back of the end zone for the score. Burks’ extra point made it 14-6 with 8:43 left in the third.

Moragne took the next kickoff 35 yards to midfield. The Tigers were stopped on fourth and 1 at the 41, but nose guard Javian Williams was called for 15-yard facemask penalty when he pulled Moragne down for a 3-yard loss with one hand on the side of his helmet.

Three more plays netted a 1-yard loss, but Central went for it on fourth and 11 from the 30. Quarterback Cooper Westbrook’s pass was complete to Reggie Harris, but only for 10 yards and the Wildcats took over at the 30.

Juan Day carried five times for 42 yards and Tenpenny carried twice for 7 to get the Wildcats to the 16-yard line. Holmes then found tight end Cameron Williams for a scoring strike to make it 21-6 with 4:11 left in the third.

Marcus Robinson returned the next kickoff 60 yards to the Wildcat 23. Two runs by A.J. Tucker set up first and goal from the 10, and that’s where things went strangely.

Three plays and one penalty netted the Tigers a loss of 4 yards. On fourth and goal from the 14, Westbrook’s pass to Tucker in the back right corner of the south end zone fell incomplete and rolled out of bounds.

The official on top of the play called it incomplete, but the line judge from the other side of the field signaled touchdown. After a brief discussion, the head referee signaled touchdown.

A two-point conversion made it 21-14 with 3:03 left in the third, but North Little Rock dominated the action from that point.

“Our guys are all about going back to the drawing board when something like that happens,” Bolding said. “When these seniors were sophomores, they went out and played Bentonville and got demolished. We did that on purpose because we wanted them to know what it takes to compete in big games.”

On the ensuing kickoff, a double reverse handoff ended up in the hand of sophomore Fabian Lewis, who took it 85 yards up the Central sideline for the score to make it 28-14 with 2:49 left in the third. North Little Rock covered an on-side kick but failed to convert a first down.

Central then went three and out and punted, setting up the Wildcats’ fourth touchdown of the third. Tenpenny went up the middle, cut left at the second level and outran the Tiger defenders 51 yards to make it 35-14 with one second remaining in the third.

Bryson got the last score when he got loose for a 48-yard jaunt up the home sideline with 5:01 left in the game.

North Little Rock finished with 531 yards of offense while Central gained just 186. Tenpenny led all rushers with 158 yards on 20 carries. He also scored the only touchdown in the first half on a 3-yard reception.

Day, who was playing in his first game since suffering a concussion against Searcy four weeks ago, picked up 119 yards on 16 carries.

“I was excited to get back on the field,” Day said. “Last week I was asking to play so I just told myself I’m going to play hard this game. At the beginning I think I was shying away from contact. Their linebacker can really hit. But as the game went on I got back to my normal self and started running hard.”

Bryson had 114 total yards, including 66 rushing and 48 receiving. Holmes and Land combined to complete 14 of 25 pass attempts for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Holmes was seven of 13 for 86 yards and one score while Land complete seven of 12 for 54 yards and a touchdown.

North Little Rock (9-1) now waits two weeks to see whom it will host in the second round of the state playoffs. The Wildcats will play the winner of the West four seed vs. the Central five seed. The west four is between Bryant and Springdale Har-Ber while the Central five is Cabot.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot wears Lions down late in game

Leader sportswriter

In order for the Cabot Panthers to make a trip back to the class 7A state playoffs, a win in the regular season finale against a tough Searcy Lions team was a must.

The 7A/6A East matchup between the two respective teams looked as if it could’ve gone either way with the score tied 7-7 at the break, but the Panthers ground-and-pound style wore down the Lions’ defense in the second half as Cabot ran its way to a 35-13 victory Thursday at Panther Stadium.

“We didn’t make a lot of adjustments,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “We just executed a little bit better I think on both sides of the ball in the second half. We keep pounding it, that’s what we do. Zach Launius coming back, that helped us. He’s been out with a broken arm. This is his first time back.

“He was able to rotate in there with Kyle (Edgar). So to have a fresh fullback in there, they could kind of rotate, and both of them had good games. Zach’s a little quicker and a little faster. Kyle’s a little stronger, but they both run hard, and I think having (Launius) back helped us a little on offense.”

Cabot’s offense came out in the third quarter hitting on all cylinders. A 30-yard run by Launius on the fourth play of the drive, as well as 15 additional yards for a face mask penalty on the play, set up the Panthers for the go-ahead score.

Launius ran in the touchdown from 7-yards out two-plays later. The extra point gave the Panthers a 14-7 lead with 9:40 to play in the third quarter. Cabot scored again on its next possession on a 1-yard touchdown run by Rankin, which capped off a 13-play drive.

Searcy made it a one possession game when athletic senior quarterback Antwan Arnold scored another touchdown on the ground, this one from 2 yards out with 3:41 to play. But the extra point attempt was blocked by senior linebacker Ian Thompson to make the score 21-13.

After Cabot’s Conor Bennett covered Searcy’s on-side kick attempt at the 50-yard line, the Panthers (6-4, 4-3) all but sealed the win when Edgar broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:53 to play. The Lions (5-5, 4-3) committed their fifth turnover of the game when they mishandled the ensuing kickoff.

Cabot took over at the Searcy 38, and Edgar scored on the next snap by breaking free yet again for another long touchdown run. Marquez’s extra point made the score 35-13.

“I think we’re getting a little better,” Malham said. “We’re just going to sit back and see where we’re going to go next week. And then it becomes a one-game season. If you win, you know you keep going. Our kids have come back after two disappointing losses to Little Rock Central and West Memphis.

“Those were two games we let get away from us. These last two (games) have been really good. Searcy beat West Memphis last week, and Jonesboro was 7-1. So I feel like we’re playing a bit better, and maybe we’re peaking at the right time.”

On the opening kickoff, Cabot managed to force a turnover and get great field positioning after a Searcy fumble on the return gave the Panthers the ball at the Lions’ 32-yard line. Six plays later, the Panthers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by Edgar. Jesus Marquez’s extra point gave Cabot a quick 7-0 lead.

The Panther offense stalled for the remainder of the half, and the Lions knotted up the score at seven with a 1-yard touchdown run by Arnold with 8:56 to play in the opening half.

Arnold had little trouble making plays with his feet through the first two quarters as he totaled 103 rushing yards at the break. With Arnold’s dual threat capabilities, Searcy tried to make something happen on its final drive of the half. But with less than a minute to go, senior defensive end Ben Powell stuffed Arnold at the line of scrimmage to put the Lions’ offense in a third-and-long situation.

Arnold was held to a 6-yard gain on the next play, which forced the Lions to punt. Cabot tried to make something happen as well with two straight passes by quarterback Kason Kimbrell to Russ Rankin for a total of 16 yards, but on Rankin’s second reception the clock ran out, ending the half.

Cabot finished the game with 400 total yards of offense, with 350 of those yards coming on the ground. Edgar led the Panthers with 132 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Launius had 15 carries for 98 yards and one touchdown. Senior Max Carroll rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries.

Searcy totaled 280 yards of offense. Arnold accounted for all but 10 of those yards as he threw for 92 yards and ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

Friday, November 02, 2012

EDITORIAL >> Not helping Jacksonville

We are not often so disappointed in a city council candidate that we feel obligated to inform readers of the likely pitfalls if he were elected. But Rizelle Aaron’s behavior has been deceitful and erratic since he entered Jacksonville’s political arena in 2009.

Aaron is running against Alderman Terry Sansing in Ward 2, Position 2 in a divisive campaign that is similar to many of Aaron’s civic endeavors. Aaron has been a disruptive voice who has set racial relations back 40 years or more.

Aaron has accused The Leader of bias, although our readers know that we have supported the African-American community since we started this newspaper 25 years ago.

We lauded the late Dr. Charles Hopson, the former superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, as he tried to improve the district before he was unfairly ousted by the state Education Department. We have recommended Jacksonville High School principal Henry Anderson as the next superintendent of PCSSD or as the head of a Jacksonville-area district when it wins approval in the courts.

The Leader has celebrated Arkansas’ African- American culture like no other newspaper in the state. We have covered the local chapter of the NAACP, the Dick Jeter community and a recent candidates forum at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church. We also asked the hard questions about the fatal fire at the Max Howell Apartments where a black family of five perished.

Often we have written of the benefits of health-care reform, President Obama’s most controversial policy initiative that will help minorities and the poor.

We have written about the timeless music of the Arkansas Delta, from Albert King to Son Seals, who are seldom mentioned in the state media or in its history books.

Recently, we were informed by community members that Aaron was telling his supporters and opponents alike that he had sued the newspaper — presumably, The Leader — for reporting on his criminal background and false education credentials in 2010 when he briefly ran for mayor here. He denies saying he sued this newspaper, but we have reason to doubt him.

Aaron presumably felt we were pulling our punches because of the alleged lawsuit. Here are some highlights of his record that should concern Jacksonville residents:


Aaron often tells critics that he secretly records private conversations. It can be assumed he intends to embarrass anyone he felt had crossed him. The legality of secretly recording conversations aside, Aaron’s intentions are clear: He wants to threaten and intimidate his opponents, most of whom are city employees.


To address the challenges facing Jacksonville, city council members should have professional experience that can help provide insight for the development of the city’s economy, schools and infrastructure. Aaron hasn’t been employed during the few years that he has been politically active. These are hard times, but a professional background and experience are important for any candidate to bring to the council.

He says that he is a disabled veteran, yet he has campaigned all day in front of the community center. How can an under-employed candidate with little work experience help Jacksonville attract businesses?


We do not expect all city council members to have college degrees, but we do think they should be honest about their education. When he announced his candidacy for mayor, Aaron claimed to have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral psychology from National University at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The school could not find him on their list of graduates.

To complicate matters further, on a Miranda warning waiver Aaron signed Nov. 19, 2007, he wrote that he had just one year of college.


During several Pulaski County Special School District board meetings that Aaron attended, he spoke against establishing an independent school district for Jacksonville, citing concerns that racial disparities could return if local officials were to manage the district. He would have us believe that school officials in Little Rock have Jacksonville’s educational interests in mind. More likely, he opposed an independent district because the mayor, like thousands of other Jacksonville residents, supports the plan.

Aaron would rather oppose city officials at every opportunity than see that he shares some goals with those he fervently wants to turn out of office. He has since changed his position and is now in favor of creating a separate Jacksonville district, as he said during a recent candidates forum. Jacksonville deserves better.

TOP STORY >> Hyde, English clash at luncheon

Leader staff writer

The two candidates for state Senate Dist. 34 spoke about the economy, jobs and education during the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon on Tuesday at the community center.

State Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) took the stage first.

She began, “One of the things that I’d like to talk about today is the fact that this should be an election about ideas, and I think unfortunately what’s happened over the course of the last year is that it’s turned into not an election about ideas but about throwing barbs at people.”

English continued, “This is a wonderful state. We are at the bottom in a lot of things. But we have wonderful people here. We have opportunities to grow and to change, but we also need to make some changes in the state.”

She said education is important and children are attending private, public and charter schools.

English said, “That’s a choice parents ought to be able to make for their children. We need to offer more choices for parents.”

She said Arkansas is 10th in the nation when it comes to having high taxes, but it ranks at the bottom in income.

“We need to find a way to change the amount of taxes and fees and things like that we’re taking from the average taxpayer here in the state of Arkansas so that they have the opportunity to have more money in their own pockets,” English said.

She said there are too many regulations on companies.

“We have an opportunity to have a better business climate,” English said.

She said the tax rate hadn’t changed since 1971, and people making $33,000 a year were better off than they are now. But they are paying the same tax percentage.

English said she talked to a plumber one day and told her “Everybody’s got their hands in my pocket.” She said he wants to retire soon, but won’t be able to.

English praised National Swage in Jacksonville for its training program.

She said the state needs more adult education and should encourage youth to not only go to college, but also to consider vocational education.

English said, “We don’t do the best job here in the state of Arkansas making sure there are programs for skilled trades. Those are very good jobs.”

She said companies like JB Hunt, Caterpillar and Tyson succeed on their own without help from the government. But, English said, “We have to make the conditions right.”

Her opponent, state Rep. Barry Hyde (D-North Little Rock), began by saying he came from a family with two working parents. His mother was a beautician and his father was a mechanic at a factory.

“That work ethic that I learned from my parents is really responsible for most of the successes I have enjoyed,” Hyde said.

He listed four important issues: jobs, economic development, education and a balanced budget.

Hyde said, “We’ve got to continue trying to improve the education of our workforce. Jobs today require more technical expertise than they used to in the past. The same is true of economic development. It’s the quality of workforce that really attracts those new businesses, those new industries.”

He said Arkansas is only better than West Virginia in how many college degrees its population has.

Hyde said he has worked the lottery scholarship program and wants to make it more efficient.

“We can use those monies to reach more kids, and especially kids from Jacksonville,” he said.

Hyde said he wants the city to have an independent school district, and he thinks that will happen in the next two years.

“I’ll support it till the day we open the doors and cut the ribbon. That is something this community has earned, that you’ve planned for, that you’ve been willing to invest your dollars in,” he said.

Hyde said the state has improved in education rankings. “The most conservative, the most harsh critics, would say we’re 35th at best,” he said, and Arkansas was 47th or 48th a few years ago.

Hyde said Arkansas is one of only four states that can boast about having a budget surplus in each of the last six years.

“I think that’s the single most important vote that I’ll make for you when I’m in a session. Apparently, my opponent doesn’t agree with that because in the last regular session my opponent chose not to vote for the budget, did not vote to oppose the budget. She actually just decided apparently the most politically safe thing was not to vote at all,” he said.

Hyde said the state’s unemployment rate is 10 percent better than the national average and Pulaski County is even better. He said 28,000 new jobs have been created in the last six years.

Hyde said taxes to individuals and manufacturers have been cut by $1.3 billion and the sales tax on utilities for manufacturers is around 1.3 percent. “The importance of funding those incentives and rebates is really key,” Hyde said about recruiting new businesses and industries to locate here.

He said, “Arkansas has continued to make improvements compared to other states.”

Hyde concluded, “What my opponent would have you think is that we need to change what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been doing it. I’m here to tell you that we’re making progress in all of these areas because we’ve had a plan. We’ve had good leadership from the governor. And we’ve worked to affect this plan.

“I would ask that you acknowledge those improvements and what’s going on in the state and make sure we continue. We’ve got to decide whether or not we want to continue to work toward that progress I talked about or we want to change courses. I think the answer is obvious,” Hyde added. Before the candidates spoke, chamber president Jody Urquhart said the chamber works closely with the economic development commission and Metro Little Rock Alliance. He said the commission has 119 projects it’s working on. The alliance is working on 54 of those and five of them are in Jacksonville. Urquhart said, “There’s quite a bit going on in the economic development world that our chamber is participating in, in one way or another.”

TOP STORY >> Commander thanks chamber

Leader staff writer

Col. Archie Frye, commander of the 22nd Air Force Reserve Detachment 1, thanked the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce at its monthly luncheon on Thursday for hosting a golf tournament to benefit veterans.

Proceeds from the first “A.L.B.A.T.R.O.S.S. Team with a Vet” golf tournament, which was held Thursday afternoon, will go into a special fund designed to offset the cost of veterans seeking medical treatment and services. Arkansas Lending Basic Assistance To Respect Our Service members Sacrifices sponsored the event, and the plan is for it to be an annual fundraiser.

Frye shared the story of an 80-year-old veteran who needed that kind of help and asked for it at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock.

“He approached me…He said ‘Hey sir, I’m not a panhandler. That’s my truck. That’s my wife and I need $10 to get to Jonesboro.’ I was like ‘OK.’ So, I reached in my pocket, and I gave him more than $10.

“He goes ‘No, I don’t want a handout. I need a loan. I deal in cash, and I was at the VA outpatient clinic, and I had to come back for an extra day and needed a hotel room and I simply ran out of money.”’

Frye said he had a friend with him at the time. His friend also offered the veteran some cash. But the veteran wouldn’t take it.

Frye said the veteran told him, “I don’t need money. I need to get home to my money.”

Frye said after that he asked Douglas Bowers, chief of voluntary service with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, if there was a fund to help veterans like the one he had spoken with.

Bowers told him there was, but it only contained $4,000 each year.

Frye said the goal he and Bowers have set is to raise that fund to $10,000.

That is why he and many others organized the tournament.

“There are people that can’t see because of their service. I’m able to swing a golf club when a lot of people can’t do that because of their service. I personally got to fly med evacs out of combat zones, most important mission you could ever do. Believe it or not, we saved about 99 percent of the people that were hurt on our airplanes. We have medical teams who do miracle surgeries. You’d have to go to UAMS to get the same kind of care,” Frye said.

He continued, “The bottom line is that’s somebody’s son or daughter. That’s somebody from Arkansas, and we’re going to help them.”
Frye said they’ve learned Friday afternoon is a better time for the tournament. He said he and the other organizers are working with some national companies who may sponsor a tournament next year.

Bowers said, ‘When (Frye) decides to something and gets behind something, he gives 100 percent.”

He explained that he is in charge of how the money is spent that comes to the veterans healthcare system.

“One-hundred percent of what I receive goes 100 percent back to our veterans,” Bowers said.

He continued, “Anything from a hotel room because they can’t afford one when they’re getting care, and they don’t have enough money for a room, to a hot meal, to clothing. Anything you can think of, they need. Not everybody is as well off as you and me. These veterans have sacrificed everything so that we can walk around, play golf and have a good luncheon together and be able to do the things that we do here in the greatest country in the world.

Bowers said, “Please keep this, make it grow. Let’s get this to where we have a golf tournament in all corners of this state, and we get it up to $100,000, and we can just take care of everybody that walks through our doors.”

TOP STORY >> DiMichele, Julian seek open House seat

Dean DiMichele, a Republican, and Patti Roberts Julian, a Democrat, are running for state representative in Dist. 38, which includes Sherwood and North Little Rock.

DiMichele, 55, was born in East Chicago, Ind. He has lived in North Little Rock for seven years. He owns and operates several McDonald’s restaurants in Sherwood and North Little Rock.

He is a member of Immaculate Conception Church and sits on the Ronald McDonald House Charities board, which helps support the Ronald McDonald House of Central Arkansas at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Julian, 57, was born in North Little Rock and has lived there all but two years of her life. She is married to Jim Julian, an attorney, and they have a daughter, Katy, who is 26.

Julian attended North Little Rock public schools and has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a law degree, both from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Why do you want to be a state representative?

DiMichele: I believe Arkansas is facing a number of important issues and must have representatives in the Legislature that will do what’s right for our state.

We need business-minded leaders in the Legislature that understand how to grow our economy, balance a budget and keep pour taxes low. We also need leaders who will fight back against the implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas.

I will do those things, and that is why I am running for state representative.

Julian: I was raised in a family that valued community service. Both of my parents were excellent role models in that regard. My father served North Little Rock for 20 years in the ArkansasHouse of Representatives. I learned from watching him that service in the House of Representatives not only involved the consideration of legislation, but included service to your constituents when they had problems.

What educational and professional experiences qualify you to be a state representative?

DiMichele: As a business owner I understand how to create jobs, make payroll and balance a budget because I’ve done it. Those are important skills that we need in the state Legislature. My experience running a business for 24 years – seven years here in central Arkansas – taught me not only how to grow our economy, but also, how to work with others to better our state. Two things we need in our state Legislature.

Julian: I believe my legal experience will make me a thoughtful legislator. I have been trained to look at an issue from all sides before making a judgment. I will also be able to see that unintended consequences do not occur from poorly drafted legislation. All my prior work has given me experience in dealing with a vast array of people and bringing them to a consensus.

What are the most pressing issues facing Arkansas and the district you would like to represent? How will you work to solve such problems?

DiMichele: Creating jobs and getting our economy back on track is the No. 1 issue in our state and our district. We can fix a lot of problems and improve a lot of people’s lives in our state and district by helping create good paying jobs and getting people back to work.

As state representative, I will work to create a business friendly environment, where companies will want to locate in Arkansas and existing businesses are able to expand.

We can do those things by reducing the tax burden on Arkansas’ workers and business owners, reducing burdensome regulations and improving our education system so that we have a highly trained workforce. We are also facing a significant Medicaid shortfall in the upcoming legislative session.

I believe Medicaid serves an important purpose in helping struggling Arkansans in a time of need, but it should not become a permanent entitlement. By working to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in our Medicaid system and ensuring that Medicaid dollars are being spent only where they should be, we can reduce that shortfall and bring more fiscal discipline to that program.

Julian: The most pressing issues for our state are creating jobs and sustained economic growth and continuing the strides we have made in education. We must be able to do these things while staying within a balanced budget.

I will make sure that our cities and the state have the ability to form partnerships to attract industry as was done to bring Caterpillar to our area.

We must also provide adequate funding for our agencies who are responsible for seeking out new business and continue the funding for the governor’s quick action fund. Our schools must be able to provide an attractive and well-trained workforce. In order to do so we must ensure that our schools are readying our students for further training in our colleges and vocational/technical schools. I will support legislation that helps us to retain the best teachers and train the best new teachers.

What do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are casting their ballots?

DiMichele: Voters should know that if they vote for me they will be voting for someone who has firsthand experience creating jobs, growing a business and balancing a budget right here in Arkansas. By casting their ballot for me, they will be sending someone to the Arkansas House of Representative that will advocate fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and policies that will grow our economy.

Julian: I would like the voters to consider that this is my lifelong home and that I am dedicated to seeing it be the best it can be. That will be my full-time job. I also want them to know that my door will always be open to them to express their opinions and if they have a problem I will do all I can to help solve it.

TOP STORY >> PCSSD unions to proceed with lawsuit

Leader staff writer

The two Pulaski County Special School District employee unions will appeal Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mary McGowan’s Wednesday ruling releasing state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell and the Arkansas Department of Education as defendants in a lawsuit to restore many elements of their contracts.

McGowan’s ruling would leave the school district, its acting Superintendent Jerry Guess and members of the personnel policy committees as defendants, according to Clayton Blackstock, their attorney.

The question now is whether the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and the Pulaski Association of Support Staff should appeal this aspect of the case before proceeding with the trial or to proceed with the suit and appeal later, he said.

McGowan found that Kimbrell and the state are protected by sovereign immunity from the suit.

“We think the ruling was correct as to ADE and the state,” said PCSSD attorney Sam Jones. “What happens beyond that gets kind of murky.”

Jones said the ball was in Blackstock’s court, but that it was likely that attorneys for the two sides would confer before the decision was made.

“They can approach the circuit court for an order allowing an immediate appeal,” he said.

The state Education Department found the district to be in fiscal distress March 30, 2011.

The fiscal distress statutes provide the ADE authority to identify a district as being in fiscal distress and authorizes a number of actions, including the firing of the superintendent, dismissal of the school board and to “evaluate and make [binding] recommendations to the district superintendent regarding staffing of the school district and fiscal practices of the school district.”

McGowan ruled that Kimbrell acted in his capacity of commissioner of the Department of Education and thus suits against him and the department are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

According to the judge, “the ADE and Commissioner Kimbrell argue that all of the decisions are authorized by statute and are being made by an executive branch agency of the state. Therefore, the Plaintiff’s Claims are barred by sovereign immunity.”

The unions argued that parts of the professional negotiated agreement — such as teacher evaluation systems — don’t cost money to implement.

“The remedy for school districts who find themselves in fiscal distress is extreme,” McGowan wrote. “It is basically a takeover by the state. Here the teachers and support staff will bear a heavy burden in getting the school district back into fiscal health. It is unfortunate and unfair that the teachers and support staff did not have the responsibility for making the decisions that led to the fiscal distress, but will suffer because of those decisions.

“However, in this case, there is no evidence of any illegal, unconstitutional, ultra vires (beyond the power), in bad faith or arbitrary action on behalf of the states,” she concluded.

The district’s main fiscal problem, which must be corrected by next June, is its declining legal fund balance. Guess has cut $11 million from the annual budget and projects a carry over of about $14.5 million at the end of this school year.

He and John Walker, attorney for the Joshua Interveners in the 20-year-old school desegregation case, just negotiated Walker’s fees down to $875,000 from $3 million, according to Guess.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TOP STORY >> Q&A with House District 44 hopefuls

Leader staff writer

Judy Riley of El Paso, a Democrat, and Joe Farrer of Ward, a Republican, are running for state representative in Dist. 44.

Farrer is the director of therapy services at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Riley is a former White County Extension agent and is an adjunct instructor in family consumer sciences at the University of Central Arkansas.

Tell us about your background and qualifications for representing District 44.

I have started a business with nothing but hard work. I have for the last 15 years and currently manage over 13 employees in a division of a hospital with a $4 million budget.

I am a private-sector job creator. I have worked for the people of Lonoke County as justice of the peace working to lower costs to keep taxes down and bring accountability to politicians with blank checks. I have balanced budgets.

Having treated patients for over 25 years, I understand the need of the patient as a human being, not just a number. I have volunteered in our schools for 22 years.

Riley: I was raised on a small poultry farm in northwest Arkansas where I learned the value of hard work.

My parents instilled a sense of others before self and encouraged us to either pay back those who helped us or pay it forward to those who came after us.

My adult work has been serving as a county Extension agent, primarily White County. I worked with farmers, families and youth in small towns and communities, helping them improve their skills and quality of life.

Why do you want the position?

Farrer: I want to bring smaller, smarter government to the state. Being someone who started his own business and has worked as a hospital clinic administrator for the last 15 years, I believe I can help bring real world solutions to the problems that plague our state government.

From my experience on the quorum court, I know that we can trim budgets and save taxpayers money. I know there are practical things we can do to reduce costs and to raise taxes.

My 25 years experience treating patients gives me a unique perspective to help this state deal with our healthcare, as I understand treatment providers and patients should be the decision makers, not government bureaucrats.

Riley: When working with the Cooperative Extension Service, I had the opportunity to bring the resources of the University of Arkansas to local families.

I see this job as an opportunity to bring the resources of the entire state to District 44. I am a product of the public education system in this state. I believe the best way to encourage economic growth is to continue to improve educational opportunities.

A skilled work force is the key to economic growth. I want to continue the progress we have made. Clearly, I have no personal agenda in this race; I want what is best for everyone.

District 44 is a new district that takes in several small cities and large rural areas that at least on the surface seem to have little in common. How will you represent everyone fairly?

Farrer: Yes, District 44 has a variety of people from rural farmers to Little Rock business people who live in Faulkner, Lonoke and White Counties.

Everyone needs good healthcare, a good education, and a good job. These are the problems that face all Arkansans. I believe these problems affect everyone equally. I plan to hold state government accountable for the money they get, begin to limit the expenses of government on peoples’ lives and protect our healthcare system.

I expect to serve on committees dealing with issues that affect District 44 and our state.

Riley: The people in this district have more in common than they have differences.

Everyone wants the best education for their children, an economy where good jobs are available, roads that are high quality, and communities and towns that are safe to live in. I would treat everyone fairly, regardless of area of the district.

As in this campaign, I would continue to make my home and cell numbers available to everyone.

I would visit towns and communities on a regular basis to keep in touch with their needs and concerns.

What do you hope to accomplish while in office?

Farrer: I intend to be voting with what I expect to be the Republican majority, enacting legislation to bring about many changes in Arkansas.

For over 138 years, we have been governed in both chambers of our legislature by a single party. I plan to be a part of this change by enacting spending reform to trim the budget, streamlining Arkansas’ tax system, implementing new controls to prevent Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse; supporting patient and free-market drivers, not large government programs; protecting Arkansas’ future by offering policies of opportunity for our citizens and businesses rather than allowing policies of destruction, implementing legal and regulatory reform and promoting educational excellence because our states’ economic viability will largely be determined by our continued investment and commitment to a higher level of achievement within our educational system.

Riley: This race is about Arkansas, about what is important for Arkansas.

I am willing to work for and with anyone. I will work to build consensus and not be divisive. I would hope to strengthen local schools, help create jobs, ensure we continue to improve roads, work to get affordable Internet, support local fire and police departments and provide the best health care possible, while maintaining a balanced budget.

Above all, I will listen to the people of this district and try my best to do their wishes.

TOP STORY >> Generational shift in Ward 5, Pos. 2 race

Roger Sundermeier Jr. is challenging longtime Alderman Bill Howard in the race for Jacksonville City Council in Ward 5, Position 2.

Sundermeier, 37, is the marketing director of First Arkansas Bank and Trust. He has lived in Jacksonville all of his life except while away for college.

In 1998, he graduated with a bachelor’s of fine arts from Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss.

He and his wife, Randi, have two daughters, Emily, 12, and Alyson, 7. His parents are Roger and Jerry Sundermeier, and his grandmother is Joy Price.

The 71-year-old Howard was born in Lonoke but has lived in Jacksonville for 68 years. He graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1959 and attended Little Rock University before going to work at the Jacksonville Post Office, where he retired after 35 years.

He and his wife, Paulette, have been married 47 years. They have two children — son Craig and daughter Monica — and one grandson, Canon.

Why do you want to be an alderman?

Howard: I have always been interested in serving my community. I have been very active on the city council and have served in areas such as planning commission and board of adjustments.

I feel my experience will be very helpful with the new council people being elected. Being retired, I have plenty of time to devote to my duties.

Sundermeier: I love this community. I have loved it all of my life. I want to be a part of our future. I do not want to be someone who simply looks at issues or problems concerning our city and looks the other way and says, “That doesn’t apply to me or my family.” Everything in this community affects everyone, whether directly or indirectly. We have taken some positive steps, but I know that we can do more, and I know that I can bring ideas and solutions to the city council that will allow us to grow, not just from an economic viewpoint, but from an emotional and spiritual viewpoint as well.

We need to reinvigorate our community. We need to restore pride throughout our community, from border to border. I think that once we reinvigorate our community, and couple that with economic growth and our own school district, the sky is absolutely the limit for Jacksonville!

What educational and professional experiences qualify you to be an alderman?

Howard: I have had a lot of people that I could look to for advice. I have completed certification through the Arkansas Municipal League that enabled me to be familiar with all areas of city government. My many years of dealing with the public have been very beneficial to me.

Sundermeier: All of my life, I have been a dreamer. I dream big. I believe in the philosophy that, “you never know unless you try or ask. The worst someone can say is ‘no,’ but at least I can rest easy knowing that I tried.”

I work in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations by trade, and that has, no doubt, prepared me for the job that I hope to be elected to. I have successfully negotiated partnerships with Sonic, PETCO, Build-A-Bear Workshop and the Disney Corp.

I know how to work with people. It’s all about relationships. And, to me, that’s what serving as a member of the City Council will be about: relationships. It’s about listening to people and taking their concerns to heart and making them my concerns.

It’s not about Roger Sundermeier Jr., it’s about the people who elect me to represent them.

What are the most pressing issues facing Jacksonville and how will you work to solve such problems?

Howard: Having our own school district will enable us to attract the younger families we need. I believe we are on the verge of much needed economic growth.

The partnership the city went into with Little Rock Air Force Base,that located the college outside the base gate, is making this a much more accessible area of learning. We need educated workers that will cause companies to look more favorable on locating in Jacksonville.

Sundermeier: No. 1 is that we are a virtually land-locked community. There are few areas for us to expand our borders for both residential and commercial development.

That was a benefit that some of our neighboring communities had in their expansions. So we have to be strategic in our approach. We need more quality homes. People relocating to our area want newer, attractive, quality homes in clean, safe neighborhoods.

We need our own school district. There is not a lot that we as a city can do until we are released from the PCSSD, but we need to continue the positive momentum that has been generated. I have personally been working with various people and groups to help facilitate this new district.

Finally, we need more amenities for our quality of life. We have a fantastic Parks and Recreation Department, and that includes things like Splash Zone. But that is a seasonal attraction. We need more “year-round” amenities for residents. I am a huge proponent for our own movie theater.

I have heard that it can’t happen. Why? Cabot has one, Sherwood and the McCain Mall area have several, but why must we leave our town for entertainment?

I’d love to have a bowling alley, or a Playtime Pizza type place with go-carts and miniature golf. We need to expand the offerings for the seniors in our community to build on the offerings currently available through our Senior Activities and Wellness Center.

We need to attract more stores and restaurants for families to choose from. I remember growing up, that I never had to leave Jacksonville for anything. We had multiple clothing stores, shoe stores, a movie theater, restaurants, and a miniature golf course.

We had all of that along with local parks to enjoy. That’s the Jacksonville I remember, and that’s the Jacksonville that I want to work to give our residents and their future generations.

What do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are casting their ballots?

Howard: We must always strive to do everything possible to show that Little Rock Air Force Base is of utmost importance to our community.

I am president of Keep Jacksonville Beautiful, officer in Reed’s Bridge, and active in First Baptist Church. We are losing at least 50 years experience from the council. We need the help of all to make the next 4 years very memorable for Jacksonville!

Sundermeier: Again, this isn’t about me. It’s about representing the people of Jacksonville to the absolute best of my abilities. I serve in multiple groups: President of the Jacksonville Lions Club, member of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, member of the Air Force Association, on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce and Keep Jacksonville Beautiful among other things.

I have had the privilege of serving on the board of directors of Lighthouse Charter Schools. I have also served the community by offering my creative services to the Jacksonville Military Museum for their Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Parade and “Rock & Role,” the branding campaign for the Little Rock Air Force Base and the Community Council. And none of this is ever done to say, “Look at me.” It’s all done to serve, to help and give myself to this community. I want to be a part of the future of Jacksonville, and that future starts by electing me to the City Council on November 6th (or before, if you participate in early voting)!

TOP STORY >> Crews ready to help

Leader senior staff writer

With about eight million people in the dark along the eastern seaboard, across Pennsylvania and into Ohio, and literally in the wake of Super Storm Sandy, Arkansans stand ready to respond when called.

Entergy has sent about 850 scouts, linemen and support workers, according to spokesman Michael Burns, many of them from Arkansas.

The 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base has an undisclosed number of crews and C-130s on standby in case they are needed in support of the relief effort, according to public information officer Arlo Taylor. Moving relief supplies and people are among the primary uses of the C-130s.

“We’ve had no requests for National Guard help,” said Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management sent four staff members to Albany, N.Y., to help with response coordination at the New York command center, DeCample said.

CenturyLink phone crews and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives repairmen are also on the way.

Entergy started sending crews from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas late last week. With a round of reinforcements that left Tuesday, 231 Arkansas employees and contractors and equipment are now dedicated to restoring power, according to Entergy spokesman Michael Burns.

“We’re committed to be there for our fellow electricity providers in the Northeast, just as other companies came to help us when Hurricane Isaac slammed the Gulf Coast in August,” said Greg Grillo, who coordinates Entergy’s storm response.

“We have a well-practiced, well-used system of mutual support, and it’s absolutely essential to restore power following widespread damage (Sandy caused),” he added.

“They include scouts, who assess damage when safe to do so after the storm, and tool workers who will help rebuild the electrical system,” Grillo said.

First Electric Cooperative in Jacksonville has released three of its contractors to go work in the affected area, according to spokeswoman Tori Moss and stands ready to provide help if asked to electric cooperatives there.

While it is certain that AT&T prepared to deal with large-scale disruptions in phone, cell phone and Internet Service, no spokesman could be found to comment or to say what contribution Arkansas and central Arkansas AT&T employees might make.

The storm has had some effect on air travel here.

Nationally, thousands of flights have been cancelled in the past couple of days, but in Little Rock, only seven flights from Bill and Hillary National Airport were cancelled Mon-day, with another five by midday Tuesday, according to Shane Carter, airport spokesman.

Those flights were to or from Baltimore and Washington.

Carter said the airport originates about 120 flights on an average day, none to New York or New Jersey.

He said there had been a higher than usual number of delayed flights, a ripple effect of the storm.

SPORTS STORY >> Carlisle battling England for second

Leader sportswriter

The Carlisle Bison hope to finish the regular season on a high note Friday when the England Lions visit Fred C. Hardke Field in Carlisle.

With the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the opening round of the class 2A state playoffs on the line, the two respective teams still have a lot to play for. In order for the Bison to get the win against an athletic England team, Carlisle coach Scott Waymire knows his team needs to approach this week as if it were a playoff game.

“It’s a big rivalry game, and there’s a lot at stake in this,” said Waymire about Friday’s regular season finale against England. “Whoever wins gets a chance to host a playoff game. So for our seniors, it’s a chance to play at home one last time.”

Other than a close 22-18 non-conference win in week three at class 3A Osceola and a heartbreaking 16-14 loss at home in week seven against archrival Hazen, the Bison have dominated the competition.

Carlisle’s offense has scored a 2A-6-high 333 points this season, and its defense has allowed a conference-low 44 points through nine games. Even though Carlisle has been without all-state junior running back Bo Weddle, who was lost for the season with a torn ACL in week two against Mountain Pine, the Bison running game has been punishing on their opponents.

Deron Ricks stepped in as the lead back after Weddle’s injury and has carried the load admirably. Ricks is approaching 1,000 yards on the ground this season, but isn’t the only Bison in the backfield that has been a deep contributor.

Carlisle’s double wing offense has given players like Justice Bryant, Clinton Hampton, Jordan Sheets and others opportunities to make plays in the backfield to help take some of the focus off of Ricks. Another thing that has helped the Bison running game has been an effective passing game.

Senior quarterback Chris Hart has consistently made plays through the air in 2012. Last week at Des Arc, Hart completed 7 of 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. That kind of balance and consistency is what Waymire believes will be effective against England, who will often line up with a 6-2 front on defense.

“They’re very aggressive and very fast,” Waymire said of the Lions’ defense. “I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage last week against Hazen. We’re going to have to play a good ball game. We’ve been a little more multiple the past couple of weeks offensively, trying to see what they (our opponents) want to try to slow down.

“Whatever they try to put their emphasis on all week, hopefully we can recognize that and try and exploit some weaknesses if they have any, and take what they give us.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bison have a lot to plan for. According to Waymire, the Lions’ offense is very multiple, and will line up in as many 24 different formations.

“They do a lot of different things,” Waymire said, “and they try to isolate their playmakers and get them the ball in space. They have a very talented quarterback in Tyrik Harris, who could be the best athlete in the conference. He can do so many things to hurt you with his feet and arm. So we’re going to have to try and corral him, and do our best to contain him.

“We can’t give up big plays. They have enough athletes that it doesn’t matter if it’s fourth-and-3 or fourth-and-13. They have the ability to convert and get first downs. So we can’t give up the big play, and on the offensive side, we just have to execute, secure the football, and take advantage of whatever they give us.”

If Carlisle (7-1, 5-1) beats England (7-2, 5-1) on Friday, the Bison will host Mount Ida in the opening round of the playoffs next Friday. If England wins, the Bison travel to Mineral Springs as the No. 3 seed.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers playing for 7A playoffs

Leader sports editor

After last week’s domination of highly-ranked Jonesboro, it would be easy to assume the Panthers would beat Searcy at home this Thursday in the regular-season finale, but there’s a lot more to this game than the last week of play.

This Lions (5-4, 4-2) are once again the winning program it was years ago. Last year’s rebound season with Division I quarterback Daniel Stegal was no fluke. Without Stegal, who is now a backup quarterback at Arkansas State University, the Lions are even better. They own wins against two teams that have beaten Cabot, including wins over 7A teams West Memphis and Little Rock Central.

“They just beat two teams that beat us,” Malham said. “They beat Central who we didn’t beat, and they just beat West Memphis who we didn’t beat. Anybody can be beaten by anybody in this conference, except maybe North Little Rock. I think it’s a toss up. It’s who doesn’t make mistakes, who doesn’t help the other team out, that’s going to win this game. We’ve helped out some of our opponents and Jonesboro helped us out a little bit last week. So whoever keeps the mistakes down should win the game.”

Searcy runs a very similar offense to that of Jonesboro. The Panthers shut down the Golden Hurricane’s two major threats, running back Martin Stafford and quarterback D.J. Anderson. This week they’ll face another run-pass threat in Searcy quarterback Antwan Arnold. The Lions offensive engineer may not be quite as fast as Anderson, but he’s still fast, and passes much better than Anderson.

“There’s no doubt their best athlete is that quarterback,” Malham said. “He can make a lot big plays in different ways. They can throw it a lot better than Jonesboro and they’ve got some good receivers. Hopefully we can keep the quarterback bottled up like we did Jonesboro’s but we’ve got to cover well too because he can get rid of the ball better than the last one.”

Cabot’s defense was solid at every position last week. The defensive line found its way into Jonesboro’s backfield most of the game. The secondary covered well and was also effective on blitzes. The defensive backfield is a little thin, but if it stays healthy, should be a positive big factor in the remainder of the season.

“The defense played great, there’s no doubt about that,” Malham said. “We covered people tight and didn’t get any flags thrown on us. We’ve only been playing four back there. (Chris) Luna dressed out last week but he still can’t run full speed. I don’t know if he’s going to play or not. We have a couple of juniors, Colby Ferguson and Jordan Burke, that have covered really well and made some good plays. Our little sophomore, Jake Ferguson, has been playing extremely well. He’s everywhere making plays.”

The playoff picture is muddled with the 7A power ratings playing a bigger factor in playoff seedings than win-loss records.

Cabot still has a slight chance of getting a No. 4 seed, which would be big because it would mean a home playoff game. But the most likely scenario, if Cabot wins, is a five seed. West Memphis would have to lose to Mountain Home for Cabot to get a four seed. There’s also still a slight possibility of Cabot not making the playoffs.

If Cabot wins, it will likely get the five seed. In order to fall to sixth, Central would have to beat North Little Rock or Fort Smith Northside would have to beat Fort Smith Southside, neither of which is likely. If Cabot loses to Searcy and Northside wins, the Panthers are out of the playoffs even with a Central loss because the Tigers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Cabot.

“We just need to win and see what happens,” Malham said. “We know we’re in the playoffs if we win. We’d like to have that home game but it’s probably not very likely. But I think if we can keep playing the way we did last week we’ll have a chance to beat some people, home or on the road.”

The top two seeds in the conference are already locked up. No matter what happens this week, North Little Rock is the one seed and Southside is the two seed. Conway will be the three seed with a win over Catholic, who is just 2-7 this season.

SPORTS STORY >> NLR after perfection

Leader sports editor

North Little Rock, fresh off an easy road win over the conference’s last-place team, Mountain Home, is set for its season finale on Thursday against a surging Little Rock Central. The Tigers will also be the first 7A team North Little Rock has played Since Sept. 28, thanks to the Arkansas Activities Association’s decision to combine the two classifications for the regular season, then split them during the playoffs with a convoluted power ratings system. The Wildcats opened league play with back-to-back games against 7A Cabot and West Memphis, then played four 6A teams in a row.

That’s one concern North Little Rock head coach Brad Bolding has about this Thursday’s matchup at North Little Rock Stadium.

“It’s been a while since we’ve played a really good team,” Bolding said. “The big thing I’ll be harping about all week is being prepared for the level of play we’re about to see that we haven’t seen in a few weeks.”

The Tigers’ overall record (4-5) isn’t that impressive, but three of those wins have come in the last three weeks.

“I think the last three weeks are what people were expecting from Central all season,” Bolding said. “It’s taken them a little longer than I’m sure they would have liked to get things going, but they’ve got them going now. They’re going to come in here with a lot of confidence after three-straight wins, and Central’s a good team. They’ve got good speed, good size. So we need to focus on the right things and come out ready to play.”

Coming out ready to play was something Bolding felt his team failed to do last week. The long bus ride to Mountain Home played a factor in that, but Bolding would still like to see more intensity at opening kickoff than he saw in that 52-3 victory.

“Offensively I was a little concerned with us coming out flat,” Bolding said. We got an illegal block penalty that backed us up, and we just didn’t start like we like to start. Defensively I think there was a little bit of a lack of energy early on. Once we woke up we were able to do a lot better. The third quarter we really played like I thought we should’ve been playing from the start.”

The Charging Wildcats led 23-3 at halftime, but scored 22 points in the third quarter. Backups played all the fourth quarter and got the ball into the end zone once while the defense continued to keep Mountain Home from moving the ball.

This week’s game being at home, Bolding isn’t as worried about a slow start, but it’s still something he’ll warn against during the week.

“We have a tendency to play pretty good at home,” Bolding said. “With this being senior night and all that going on, hopefully we won’t have to worry about a lack of energy.”

Special teams play was also a big improvement from the week before, especially kickoff coverage, which gave up a few big returns against Marion.

“I was disappointed they got the field goal because it was solely because of our mistake,” Bolding said. “We had a punt return that hit one of our players that set them up with really good field position. They didn’t go anywhere but they were right there to kick the field goal. On the other side of that, we did a much better job on kickoffs and we had a kickoff returned for a touchdown with no flags. We’ve had a couple of those called back this year and that’s very frustrating.”

North Little Rock vs. Little Rock Central has also become a rivalry game. While all the Little Rock area public schools were once in the state’s largest classification, even as recently as 10 years ago, only three remain, including Central, NLR and Hall. Only the Wildcats and Tigers have remained relevant at that level in football, so the rivalry grew naturally.

“I think that’s a credit to both schools,” Bolding said. “The coaching staffs, the kids, the people who involved financially providing support are all a factor in that. And if it weren’t for the administrations willingly supporting us and going all in to help athletics, we’d be dead in the water too. So credit goes to all of that. I really think, though, that our coaches do a great job. I think we have one of the best staffs around. The coaches here are great teachers of the game and they should get a lot of credit.”

SPORTS STORY >> League title on the line for JHS

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville suffered a major disappointment last week in its 7-6 loss at Mills on Friday, but it didn’t diminish what’s left to play for this week when it hosts highly-ranked Pulaski Academy (7-2, 6-0).

The Red Devils (6-3, 5-1) were hoping this Thursday’s matchup at Jan Crow Stadium would be between the league’s only two undefeated teams for the outright 5A Central championship. Instead, they enter the game with one loss, but still have the chance to earn a share of the league title.

“The kids are still playing for a conference championship,” Jacksonville coach Rick Russell said. “They’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time and they’ll be ready to play. Every week we’ve had a goal and that’s to win the game. We didn’t get that done last week, but our body of work over the course of the season still has us in a place where we can win a championship, so our goals are the same.”

Pulaski Academy enters the game on a six-game winning streak and is ranked no lower than No. 2 by any of the state’s polls. One poll has the Bruins at the top of the class 5A rankings while all the others have them second behind Camden Fairview.

Those rankings aren’t unwarranted. Russell knows his team will be facing class 5A’s best passing attack this week.

“Defensively we’re going to need to be in the right spots in terms of alignment,” Russell said. “We’re going to need good coverage and we’re going to need pressure on the quarterback. In some games you might get away with one or the other, but in this one we’re going to need both.”

Several Red Devil defensive linemen are nursing injuries after the Mills game, but all should be ready to play by Thursday.

“That was a very physical football game,” Russell said. “We have a several defensive linemen with sore ankles and sore knees. They had to rebound from a lot of low blocks and chop blocks they were using. They played an outstanding game, but they’re a little sore from it.”

Pulaski Academy’s offensive efficiency has been the key to its success this season. Teams have been able to score against the Bruins’ defense, but no one has been able to stop the offense. The Red Devils know that will be a major task.

“They’re going to run routes better than any team we’ve faced,” Russell said. “They’re going to be more precise in the passing game than any team we’ve faced. They’re going to show more alignments and more formations than any team we’ve faced. That all adds up to we’re going to have to play our best football game. We’ve still been searching for our best game and I don’t think we’ve seen it yet. We’re going to have to have it in this game.”

Like most teams do against the Bruins, Jacksonville plans to play ball-control offense.

“We need first downs,” Russell said. “The best way to keep them from scoring is to keep that offense off the field.”

There won’t be any punt return practice for Jacksonville this week and very little punt-team practice. The extra time available will be spent on kickoff returns.

“They don’t punt at all so that takes away some of our scoring potential because we feel like we have one of the best return men in the state in Kevin Richardson,” Russell said. “They also don’t try to block or return punts. They’re going to stand there for the snap and run to the sideline. They’re entirely focused on getting that offense onto the field. But they on-side kick it every time so we’re going to work on that and not letting them have any extra possessions.”

The Red Devils and Bruins kickoff at 7 p.m. Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies win Central Conference

Leader sports editor

Cabot sophomore Micah Huckabee led the way as the Lady Panthers’ cross country team won the 7A Central conference meet Monday at Rolling Hills Country Club in Cabot. Huckabee easily took first place in the five-kilometer race with a time of 19:31.08, well ahead of Mount St. Mary’s Cally Cochran, who finished second with a time of 20:05.71. Cabot’s Marlene Sheehan, who took first place at Cabot’s last home meet, finished third overall with a time of 20:11.32.

Rounding out the top 10 in the girls race, which included 52 competitors, was Cabot’s Meagan Duncan and Samantha Nickell. Finishing almost side-by-side, Duncan’s ninth-place time was 21:17.01 and Nickell finished less than a second later at 21:17.91.

All four scored points for the Lady Panthers, with higher place finishers earning fewer points. The Cabot ladies won the meet with 33 points while Mount St. Mary’s scored 37.

Those two easily outpaced the rest of the field. North Little Rock took third place with 67 points with one top-10 finisher. Irenia Ball finished eighth with a time of 21:02.02. Lady Wildcat Lillian McEntire finished just outside the top 10 with a time of 21:24.95, good enough for 11th place.

Conway finished fourth with 80 points and Little Rock Central took fifth place with 131. The Tigers’ best finisher came in 19th place.

Catholic High dominated the boys race, taking 10 of the top 12 spots with only two Cabot Panthers breaking up a Rocket sweep. Cabot senior Scott Foltz pushed Catholic’s top two runners hard until the finish line. His time of 16:33.70 was barely a second behind winner Noah Findlay, and less than a second behind second place Colin O’Mara, who finished in 16:32.87.

Cabot sophomore Lee Sullivan finished fifth with a time of 16:43.57. Still, team scores were dominated by the Rockets. Catholic totaled just 20 points to beat second-place Cabot by 42. Again North Little Rock finished third and Conway fourth.

Fort Smith Southside took fifth and Fort Smith Northside was sixth, while Central finished last in the boys race as well.

North Little Rock’s top runner was Nicholaus Vasquez, whose time of 17:30.27 was good for 14th.

Cabot’s Madison McGregor and Ian McDonald finished 19th and 20th overall.

The state meet will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10 on the infield at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.