Saturday, November 10, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls do well in exhibition game

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther basketball team controlled most of the action Thursday in its Arkansas Activities Association benefit game against Lake Hamilton. In a format in which the scoreboard was reset after each quarter, the Cabot ladies won three of the four quarters and compiled a point advantage totaling 52-32.

The Lady Wolves outscored Cabot 12-8 in the third quarter, but was playing its starters against Cabot’s second and third-team players.

The Lady Panthers owned a 44-20 advantage in the other three periods combined.

Cabot coach Carla Crowder saw areas that need improvement, but liked what she saw from her young team in its first live action of the season.

“We have a lot of young players without much experience,” Crowder said. “So this game helped us a lot to see where we’re at and where we need to be.”

Three players finished in double figures, including the two returning starters from last year’s state championship team. Post player Elliot Taylor led the team with 14 points. Point guard Jaylin Bridges scored 10 points on four of six shooting, including two three-pointers.

First-year starter Alyssa Hamilton dropped in 11 points for the Lady Panthers.

“I thought Jaylin played really well and I thought three of our bench players did really well,” Crowder said. “We’re just trying to get everyone better. Every phase of the game you’ve got to keep working on and improving. This team works hard to so I feel like we’ll get better. I was pleased with the effort.”

SPORTS STORY >> First-quarter blitz by Dogs buries Devils

Leader sportswriter

Morrilton’s 28 unanswered points in the opening quarter of Friday’s class 5A playoff opener put Jacksonville in too big of a hole to climb out of as the Red Devils fell 42-14 to the Devil Dogs at Morrilton High School.

After opening 5A Central Conference play with five straight wins, Jacksonville (6-5) lost its final two games in the regular season to drop to the No. 3 seed, and the Red Devils’ slide continued Friday.

Morrilton, led by junior quarterback Toney Hawkins, scored on its opening drive in just four plays. After a 24-yard run by Hawkins, the athletic quarterback scored two-plays later on a 6-yard run. The extra point gave the Devil Dogs a quick 7-0 lead.

“We gave them the ball in short field and they have a couple of guys that can make plays,” said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell about the first quarter. “Morrilton’s a good football team.”

The Devil Dogs forced the first turnover of the game on Jacksonville’s second drive. Junior defensive tackle Kieran Cole forced the ball out of quarterback Aaron Smith’s hands and Morrilton took over at the Red Devil 8-yard line.

Two plays later, senior running back Jamar Criswell punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give Morrilton a two-score advantage. The Devil Dogs went up three scores with 2:39 left in the first when Hawkins connected with Jamar Criswell for an 8-yard touchdown pass.

Another Jacksonville turnover on the following possession allowed Morrilton to take over again in Red Devil territory. In four plays, the Devil Dogs scored their fourth touchdown of the quarter on another touchdown pass by Hawkins. This one came on a 30-yard pass to Rashad Criswell. The extra point put the Red Devils in a 28-0 deficit.

Jacksonville was able to adjust in the second quarter as the Red Devil defense held Morrilton scoreless for the remainder of the half. The Red Devils found the end zone for the first time with 2:11 to play in the half when Smith hit senior playmaker Kevin Richardson for a 27-yard touchdown toss.

In the second half, Jacksonville’s defense was unable to replicate its play in the second quarter as Morrilton was the first to put points on the board. Jamar Criswell found the end zone again on a 2-yard run with 6:18 to play in the third. The extra point put the Devil Dogs up 35-7. Jacksonville cut Morrilton’s lead to three scores on another touchdown reception by Richardson late in the quarter. The extra point made it 35-14.

Hawkins threw the final touchdown of the evening, a 26-yarder to Rashad Criswell on a wide receiver screen pass with 7:41 to play. The score capped off a 10-play drive. The extra point set the final margin.

“The kids played hard in the second half,” Russell said of his team. “Morrilton’s a good football team and I hope they do well in the playoffs. They have a lot of speed. We didn’t play great technique, but you have to tackle well in space, and those kids just made some good decisions and made good cuts. You have to make plays in space and they made us miss.”

Even though it was a rough ending to the Red Devils’ season, Russell says he will look back and be proud of the team for its play on the field, and the leadership that was shown throughout the season, especially from the seniors.

“I’m excited about what we did this year,” Russell said. “Our senior class did a good job leading. There are a lot of good football players in that group, and they can be proud of their season.”

Morrilton ended the game with 375 yards of offense. Jacksonville finished with 162. Smith completed 14 of 25 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Richardson had nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Hawkins completed 15 of 21 passes for 189 yards and three scores, and ran for another. Morrilton (8-2), the No. 2 seed from the West, will travel to Wynne (10-0), the No. 1 seed from the East, next Friday to kick off the second round of the playoffs.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers control last two quarters

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys basketball team took the floor against live competition for the first time Thursday, taking on Lake Hamilton in the Arkansas Activities Association benefit game at Panther Arena. The format was to reset the scoreboard after each quarter, but Cabot got the best of the game as a whole.

“There were a lot more positives than negatives,” Cabot coach Jerry Bridges said of his team’s play. “We’d like to score 80 points a game but that’s not going to be our nature this year. To be successful we’re going to have to do a good job of executing and getting the ball inside for good shots. We left a lot of points out there, missed some easy baskets, but I was pleased with how they executed and found good shots. We’ll start making those.”

The Panthers lost the first two quarters by one point each, missing shots at the end of each quarter that would have resulted in the lead. Lake Hamilton pushed out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter before Bridges put in five new players. The second group scored five unanswered points and took a 9-7 lead before Lake Hamilton hit a three pointer in the final minute to take a 10-9 lead and hold it until the quarter ended.

The second quarter saw both teams struggle offensively. Cabot managed just one three pointer and three free throws against Lake Hamilton’s zone defense. The Panthers got some good looks, but went 0 for 7 from inside the three-point arc.

They were just one of 13 from two-point range in the first two quarters, while hitting three of seven three-point attempts.

The second half was a different game. Lake Hamilton switched to a man defense and Cabot doubled its offensive output. The Panthers outscored the Wolves 30-14 in the second half.

“They started playing us man but I tell you I think the biggest difference was we picked up our defensive intensity and created some easy baskets off our defense,” Bridges said.

The Panthers were six of seven from two-point range in the third quarter while forcing seven Lake Hamilton turnovers. Hunter York and Ryan Stafford each got steals that led to baskets. Bryan Shrum and Kyle Theilemier combined for 12 of Cabot’s 16 points in the quarter.

“If we can keep getting better on the defensive end we’ll be alright,” Bridges said. “We’ll compete and beat some people. We need to be better at the free-throw line though. We can’t give points up like that.”

The Panthers were 12 of 19 from the line. Post player Michael Smith got to the line most frequently, and hit one of two on each of his five trips.

“Michael played a great game,” Bridges said. “He’s got a way of getting to the goal. We’re going to need him to be a little better on free throws because I think he’s going to have an opportunity to get to the line quite a bit for us this year.”

The Panthers went five of 12 from three-point range, with four different players knocking down outside shots.

“We’re not as deep at guard as we were last year, but I think we shoot it better than last year,” Bridges said. “If we keep working the ball around like we did, we’ll get good shots. We just have to make them. We struggled shooting as a team last year, and we will at times this year, but I think this team is a little better shooting team than that one, I really do.”

Cabot’s first official game of the season is Nov. 20 at Conway.

SPORTS STORY >> Bison get another date with Warriors

Leader sportswriter

A fast start for Carlisle allowed the Bison to claim a 39-14 victory over Mount Ida in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs at Fred C. Hardke Field on Friday.

The Bison (9-1) controlled all aspects of the game in the first half and built a 33-0 lead at the break before junior Deron Ricks set Carlisle up with a short field to start the second half when he recovered a Lions fumble at their 36-yard line. Senior quarterback Chris Hart activated the sportsmanship/timing rule three plays later with a 16-yard touchdown run to give the Bison a 39-0 lead at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter, his third score in as many carries.

The only hiccup for Carlisle in the game was at center, as starting junior Christian Cotton was held out of the game with a nagging shoulder injury. Senior Jimmy Kolke, a starting tackle, stepped in Cotton’s place and had trouble snapping to Hart early on. That led to four fumbles during the Bison’s first three possessions, all of which were covered by Hart.

“We had some problems with the exchange with the center and quarterback,” Carlisle coach Scott Waymire said. “But we made some plays on third and long, did a good job throwing and catching. The running backs ran hard. They had a turnover there that went against them. We got out of there with a win, and got out healthy.”

The Bison advance to the second round of the 2A playoffs, where they will travel to Lepanto next week to face East Poinsett County, a 52-14 winner over Norphlet on Friday. The game will mark the third consecutive year the two teams have seen each other in postseason play.

The Lions (6-5) lost their first possession to a fumble that was recovered by Carlisle senior lineman Clayton Fields at the Mount Ida 42-yard line. That led to a nine-play drive for the Bison, capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Ricks with 2:23 remaining in the first quarter to make it 12-0. Ricks rushed 10 times for 62 yards and a touchdown, as well as leading the Bison in tackles from his linebacker position, along with his kicking duties for Carlisle.

“He did a tremendous job of putting us in field position (with his) kicking,” Waymire said. “He’s a heck of a ballplayer, and people respect him. People see him on film and what he does, and they know they’ve got to stop No. 22.

“A lot of times, that opens things up for us. It opened Justice up with a counter off what we do with him, and it opened up our passing game.”

Hart bailed out the Bison on key third-and-long situations with the passing game, including a 27-yard toss to junior Austin Reed on third and 21 at the Carlisle 18 to start the second quarter. Two plays later, Hart found Justice Bryant open for a 35-yard pass play that took the ball down to the Mount Ida 14-yard line. Junior Braden Reed was the recipient on the next pass, a 12-yarder in double coverage that gave the Bison a first and goal at the Lions’ 1-yard line before Hart went over the top for his first of three touchdown rushes.

“Chris Hart and our receivers have done a great job this year throwing the football,” Waymire said. “We feel very confident throwing the football. Chris, he’s a senior quarterback who has done a great job for us. Honestly, our receiving corps is the best since I’ve been here in seven years. Both the Reed boys did a great job running routes, and Justice Bryant has done a tremendous job catching the football for us this year.”

Mount Ida cleaned up the score late against Carlisle’s junior-varsity defense with a 28-yard touchdown run by senior running back Josh Hall with 5:14 left to play in the third quarter, and a 3-yard touchdown run by Kevin Weston with 5:13 remaining.

Hart was 7 for 10 passing for 118 yards, and carried 10 times for 47 yards and three touchdowns. Bryant had four carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Austin Reed had three receptions for 52 yards. The Bison had 337 yards total offense.

For the Lions, Hall led the way with 19 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown, as Mount Ida finished with 246 total yards.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot defense stops Bryant

Leader sports editor

Cabot stopped Cabot a few times in the first half, but Bryant never did. The Panthers were able to build a 21-7 lead after two quarters then hold off a Hornet rally late in the game to win 28-21 and advance to the second round of the class 7A state playoffs.

Cabot gave up a lot of yards through the air, but made one big play after another when it needed most to preserve the postseason road victory.

“I thought the defense played great,” Cabot coach Mike Malham said. “I didn’t know if we could slow them down. That quarterback’s a good one and they’ve got a lot of receivers. Boy, I tell you what, we had some interceptions, some big sacks and tackles for loss. The kids in our secondary are looking better. We’re getting better. Who knows?”

Bryant got an interception with 4:55 left in the game trailing 28-14. The Hornets took over at the Cabot 44-yard line. After several strange calls and no calls by the officials, two substitution infractions by Bryant and a highly-controversial pass-interference penalty on fourth and goal from the 9, The Hornets finally put it in the end zone with 2:12 left.

Bryant tried an onside kick, but Cabot’s Colby Ferguson covered it for the Panthers. A Hornet tied Ferguson up after he was down, and the officials took a long time to make a decision, but gave Cabot the ball.

The Panthers got one first down with 6-yard runs by Zach Launius and Kyle Edgar. All that was left after that was for quarterback Kason Kimbrell to take a knee.

“We had a lot of calls go against our way,” Malham said. “We had the one call in the first half. Well I’m not going to say anything, but man they got the calls when they needed them. That’s part of football, but these kids overcame. They’re really showing some resiliency and I’m proud of them.”

Bryant scored first in the second half on a one-play, 67-yard drive. Bryant quarterback Hayden Lessenberry swung the ball down the line of scrimmage to sophomore K.J. Hill, who dodged several tacklers and outran the Cabot defense for the score to make it 21-14 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.

The two teams then traded two drives and two punts each before Cabot got back on the board and took a two-touchdown lead.

The Panther defense held Bryant to a three-and-out at the Hornet 1-yard line. The punt went just 29 yards and Cabot started at the Bryant 30.

Halfback Chris Henry got 14 on first down. Edgar rumbled for 11 more on the next play, then got the last 5 for the touchdown with 8:30 left in the game.

Cabot had more trouble moving the ball in the second half than in the first, but the defense kept the high-flying Hornet offense under control in the second half besides the one big play.

“The second half, we made some mistakes,” Malham said of his offense. “We miss a read where we think we have yards. But they’re tough inside. They always give us trouble there. So we went outside a little more than we usually do. The play-action pass was working pretty good. We missed a couple of passes or we would have had more. But we hit a few and I was just pleased. The last few weeks they’ve been playing great.”

Turnovers thwarted a couple of Cabot drives in the first half and Bryant paid back the favor with two first-half interceptions. The difference came with Cabot stopping Bryant drives on three occasions while the Hornets couldn’t slow the Panthers down when they didn’t turn it over.

The first three drives of the game ended in turnovers. Bryant threw two interceptions and Cabot threw one. The Panthers went mistake-free on their second drive and the result was eight plays that went 75 yards for the score. Halfback Chris Henry went 39 yards on the first play after Jordan Burke intercepted a Hayden Lessenberry pass at the goal line and returned it 21 yards.

Henry’s run took the ball to the Hornet 40 and the Panthers ate chunks of yardage from there. Max Carroll went five yards on first down. Fullback Zach Launius ripped off 13 more on an option pitch. Quarterback Kason Kimbrell kept on the option on the next play for 12 more yards to set up first and goal from the 10-yard line. Carroll was stopped after just two yards on first and goal, but Bryant jumped offsides on the next play to move the ball to the 4. Carroll got the rest on the next play. Jesus Marquez added the extra point to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead with seven seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Bryant’s best drive followed. The Hornets were called for an illegal block on the kickoff return and started at their own 5-yard line. It didn’t matter. They needed just six plays to get that distance, even with one of the plays being a sack by Matt Griffin that resulted in a 3-yard loss. After the sack, Lessenberry hit Brushawn Hunter for a 41-yard pass play up the left seam. On the next play, Lessenberry nailed K.J. Hill on the same route for a 27-yard scoring strike that tied the game with 9:20 left in the half.

But once the Panthers held onto the ball, they couldn’t be stopped. Bryant tried an on-side kick and Cabot covered it at its own 42. It took just five plays from there, with Launius getting the last 28 with a handoff up the middle that he cut to the left side after breaking through the first layer of defenders. The PAT made it 14-7 with 7:39 left in the half.

Cabot gave up one big play on Bryant’s next drive, but finally buckled down and didn’t allow another yard. Aaron Henry knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage on third down, and Lessenberry’s fourth-down pass was short, giving the Panthers possession at their own 37.

The next Cabot drive took six plays. Henry ripped off 19 yards on second and 8. Carroll got 14 more on the next play, but was knocked out of the game by taking a hit after his helmet had been knocked off. The Panthers faced a third and three after two more plays, but Henry took an option pitch, cut inside his spy and outran the rest of the Bryant defense for a 21-yard touchdown. That gave Cabot a 21-7 lead with 3:40 remaining in the half.

The final drive of the half was full of drama, but resulted in no points. Cabot held the Hornets to a three-and-out, but fumbled the punt and gave Bryant another possession at the Panther 28. On second and 10, Lessenberry hit Hill for 20 yards to the 8-yard line. Bryant tried to get fancy on first and goal, but a halfback pass attempt resulted in Cabot’s Griffin taking down Hill for a 14-yard loss.

Both teams finished with exactly 387 yards of offense. Lessenberry threw for 383 yards. He completed 22 of 44 attempts with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Henry led the Panthers with 104 yards on nine carries, plus two receptions for 30 yards. Kimbrell ran 14 times for 76 yards and Launius had 12 carries for 64.

Griffin finished the game with three sacks for the Panthers’ defense.

Cabot (7-4) travels to North Little Rock next Friday.

TOP STORY >> Approval for annexation

Leader staff writer

All five areas that Sher-wood wanted to annex were voted into the city Tuesday.

The areas, mostly small subdivisions and an elementary school on the northern edge of the city won’t officially become part of Sherwood until probably the first of the year, according to Mayor Virginia Hillman.

“We have 15 days to get the updated land maps to the county and they have 30 days to sign off on it. So it will probably be right after the holidays,” the mayor explained.

The areas annexed included a section of North Gap Creek, the Woodridge subdivision, the Oakdale-Mine Road area, Carr Cove and two schools, Cato elementary and Northwood Middle School.

She said the annexation was part of the city’s natural growth and was necessary to “help clarify and clean up the northern boundaries.”

One of the five areas annexed into the city included Northwood Middle School and Cato Elementary. Both were nearly surrounded by Sherwood after the city annexed Gravel Ridge about three years ago.

“The school district agreed with us that the schools should fall under us. Before the annexation, the county would have to be called to respond if there were problems. That made no sense when most of the time our office and firefighters are closer,” she said.

Property can be annexed into a city in three different ways: Voluntarily by the land owners asking the city to let them in, involuntarily where the city decides to bring the land in or through the election process.

When an election is set, the residents of the city and the affected area get to vote on the annexation issue. The mayor had said earlier the decision was made to place it on the general election ballot to save money and to give as many people as possible a chance to vote.

Four out of the five areas garnered about 12,000 votes apiece—more than 8,000 for and just over 3,000 against. None of the annexed areas had 3,000 voters living in them, just 100 or so at the most, so the majority of the no votes came from city residents.

“Taking in these areas will not strain our police department or the fire department,” Hillman said.

The North Gap Creek area annexation garnered the least number of votes out of the five areas. Unofficial results show 4,494 votes for annexation and 1,451 against.

On annexing the Woodridge subdivision, it was 8,672 votes for and 3,146 against.

On the Oakdale-Mine Road issue, 8,440 votes were cast in favor of annexation and 3,390 against it.

For Carr Cove, 8,309 votes were for annexation and 3,362 against.

The idea of annexing the two schools garnered 8,646 votes for it and 3,166 against it

Most residents living in the affected areas voted against coming into Sherwood. “But if we didn’t vote them in, North Little Rock would have done so,” the mayor said.

TOP STORY >> Area schools earn kudos

Leader staff writer

Arnold Drive Elementary, along with Cabot’s Stagecoach Elementary, Cabot Middle School South, and a number of Searcy schools received kudos for their Benchmark test scores in a just released University of Arkansas report.

After four months of reviewing the April 2012 math and literacy Benchmark scores, the university’s Office of Educational Policy named Arnold Drive’s fifth graders the third best in the state and the school’s fourth graders the sixth best in the state.

Researchers not only looked at the percentage of students who scored proficient or advanced, but assigned numerical scores to the categories to give an even clearer picture of how well a school was doing.

The university assigned a score of 4 to advanced scores, a 3 to proficient scores, a 2 to the basic category and a 1 to below basic scores.

According to the state 96 percent of Arnold Drive fifth graders are proficient or advanced in both math and literacy and tied with the top group in the state, Mount Pleasant Elementary in Melbourne. Looking at the numerical scores, Arnold Drive netted a “GPA” score of 3.77, just four-tenths below Mount Pleasant.

The Arnold Drive fifth graders were number one in the state and the central region based on just their literacy scores. All students scored either proficient or advanced and had a GPA of 3.92. The best GPA any school could have was a 4.00.

Arnold Drive third graders were 98 percent proficient or advanced in both math and literacy with a GPA score of 3.75. Tops in the state was Richland Elementary in West Memphis with its students 100 percent proficient or advanced and a GPA score of 3.91.

Fourth graders at Stage-coach Elementary were named fifth best in the state and second best in central Arkansas based on their math scores. According to the state, 98 percent of the students were proficient or advanced on the math portion of the Benchmark exams. The students had a GPA score of 3.76.

Based on its math scores, Stagecoach was the third best elementary school in central Arkansas.

At the middle school level, Cabot Middle School South and Ahlf Junior High Searcy tied for 12th best in the state based on their combined math and literacy Benchmark scores.

Both schools had 89 percent of students score proficient or advanced on both portions of the exams and had GPAs of 3.43.

The Cabot school was the third-best in central Arkansas in literacy achievement with a 91 percent proficiency rate and a GPA of 3.48.

Ahlf’s seventh graders were honored as fifth best in the state in literacy achievement by the researchers with a93 percent of the students scoring proficient or better and having a GPA of 3.56.

Ahlf, along with Searcy’s Southwest Middle School were ranked in the top schools in the northeast region of the state in literacy. Southwest was second in the region with a 90 percent proficient or better rating and a GPA of 3.48. Ahlf was right behind it with a higher proficient rate (91 percent), but a lower GPA (3.47).

Sidney Deener Elementary in Searcy was recognized by researchers as one of the top 25 performing “high-poverty” elementary schools in the state in math achievement. It ranked 14th with a math proficiency rate of 88 percent and a GPA of 3.52.

To calculate the GPA measurement, researchers used Benchmark scores similar to the existing grade-point average system high schools and colleges use. Researchers calculated the GPA measure for every school in the state for math, literacy and combined math and literacy scores.

The GPA measure is comprehensive in that it takes into account all of the test score levels (proficient, advanced, basic and below basic) instead of lumping together advanced and proficient scores as the state does.

TOP STORY >> Dinner donations sought

Leader staff writer

The third annual Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast is being held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 22 at Cabot United Methodist Church, 2003 South Pine St.

Heather and Dane Moore and members of Grace Family Church are organizing the free dinner for anyone, regardless of income, who would not be able to have a Thanksgiving meal or would be spending the holiday alone without a place to go. Meals will be available for dine-in, carry out and delivery service for those who are unable to get out.

“We want everybody to be fed and not alone during the holidays,” Dane Moore said.

He said people have started calling about the event.

After talking and praying the Moores expect 600 people to attend the feast. Heather Moore said an anonymous donor gave plates, cups and plastic utensils for 600 people.

Dane Moore said more people are expected because of the economy and more people knowing about the Thanksgiving event.

Last year, 463 people were served and 312 were served in 2010, the first year the meal was held.

The Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast is held at “a different church each year to show it’s not a church, but a community event bringing the body of Christ together,” Dane Moore said.

“Every year we get a different crew of volunteers,” Heather Moore said.

“Because we change churches and the host church takes ownership of the event,” Dane Moore said.

Volunteers wanting to be a part of the Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast can cook for their family and a little extra for the community meal.

“Just prepare a dish and drop it off. They don’t have to stay. It would be greatly appreciated,” Heather Moore said.

“We have a website ( so people can sign up to volunteer,” Heather Moore said.

The website has a donation list, volunteer duties and donation tab to give through PayPal.

Nonperishable items need to be received by Thursday to be given to volunteers to prepare.

Organizers still need uncooked turkeys and hams. Donations are need by Monday, Nov. 19. Turkeys and hams can be donated to the Cabot Community Thanksgiving by calling Heather Moore to arrange a pickup.

Lonoke Exceptional School adult students are decorating the church’s dining room for the feast.

Organizers are looking for a pianist or other musicians to play instrumental music during the event.

The idea of the Cabot Community Thanksgiving Feast came to the Moores four years ago.

“Heather and I went to Lonoke to volunteer. Heather looked for a place to volunteer in Cabot. We ended up in Lonoke volunteering together as a family.

“When we left, we looked at each other and said, ‘we need this in Cabot.’ We prayed about it and the doors started opening,” Dane Moore said.

“Thanks to all the volunteers and the businesses that have donated,” Heather Moore said.

Helping support the event are Lonoke Exceptional School adult center, First Security Bank, Kroger, Kmart, Cabot United Methodist Church, Grace Fellowship Church, Dixie Café and the Cabot Rotary Club.

Monetary donations can also be made at Checks made out to Grace Family Church (CCTF) may also be mailed to Grace Family Church at 108 S. Fourth St., Cabot, Ark. 72023.

For more information, call Heather Moore at 501-259-3799.

EDITORIAL >> Community: what it means

We were shocked and slightly stunned when a woman who lost her dog called to say the Jacksonville Community Center would not allow her to post a nicely printed lost poster on their bulletin board to help her find her dog.

Her grief at losing a dog she was greatly attached to was temporarily supplanted by anger at community center personnel, three of whom were sitting down and doing nothing.

They all nodded in assent, not one getting up to look at the poster. Just a firm “no, we’re not allowed to do that.”

Who pays to keep the Jacksonville Community Center running? And to whom does the Jacksonville Community Center belong? Much of the funding comes from the city and its taxpayers. It would be nice then if someone from the community could post a lost and found or other important notice on the center’s closely guarded and very boring bulletin boards.

Perhaps a real “community” bulletin board could be installed to provide a mechanism for people who would like to post a notice.

We can understand the community center trying to avoid the posting of dreck or advertising-for-profit on its boards.

But a little monitoring could abate problem postings.

Perhaps someone could just get up from behind the desk once a day and peruse what members of the community may have posted? Anything objectionable could be removed. There could be guidelines, like no washers and dryers for sale.

We’re thinking that people who live and work in Jacksonville and whose taxes go to the center’s upkeep and its employees’ payrolls should be able to post a lost-and-found notice. Is that asking too much?

Other entities in the community allowed the lady to post her signs, including the Jacksonville Animal Shelter, Knight’s and even the Department of Human Services, which put the notice on its front door. The local newspaper runs lost-and-found ads free. The garbageman Eric also kept a good eye out.

Her dog was returned in 10 days, a little disoriented but in perfect health. Thanks to all who extended their helping hand.

By the way, it might be nice if the community center’s staff could stand to cordially greet visitors to the community center like they mean it. They are, in effect, employed by the community.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

TOP STORY >> New faces on city councils

Leader staff writer

Even though two incumbents retained their seats Tuesday, the Jacksonville City Council will still have three new faces, with one starting as early as the next council meeting.

There’ll be a new sheriff in Lonoke County and he’s coming from Ward, and a Cabot alderman who had actually dropped out of the race was re-elected.

In Beebe, two of three incumbents were re-elected. The only one sent packing was Leslie Cossey.

In Jacksonville, Rev. James E. Bolden III defeated Jim Moore to take the Ward 1, Pos. 2 seat left vacant in September by former Alderman Marshall Smith, who retired after 32 years on the council. After announcing his retirement, Smith and his wife moved to Vilonia causing him to vacate his seat.

Bolden garnered 3,726 votes, or 53 percent, to Moore’s 3,259 votes, or 47 percent.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said Bolden would be sworn in at the Nov. 15 city council meeting.

Bolden said, “I feel great to have an opportunity to serve my city at another level. I’m looking forward to forming a vision to help our youth and the economic situation here in the city, bringing more businesses, and working with my fellow aldermen to make sure we are the best city in the state.”

The remaining new aldermen, Barbara Mashburn, who ran unopposed for the Ward 3, Pos. 2 seat, and Mary Twitty, who squeaked out a win by 70 votes to take over the Ward 4, Pos. 2 seat, will be sworn into office in January.

With all precincts reporting, incumbent aldermen Terry Sansing and Bill Howard won decisively.

In a controversial race charged with accusations and racial overtones, Sansing swept all precincts and beat challenger Rizelle Aaron by more than 2,300 votes. Sansing received 4,694 votes, or 67 percent, to Aaron’s 2,294 votes, or 33 percent. Sansing has been on the council for more than two decades.

“In a word, (I’m) relieved. I was very happy to find out that the constituents by a greater than 2 to 1 margin understand and share my visions for the future growth of Jacksonville, that the citizens are looking forward to the extremely bright future that is before us,” Sansing said.

He added, “This is not just my victory. This is a victory for all the people that supported me, who voted for me and ultimately for everyone in Jacksonville. No man is an island. I could not have done it alone.”

Howard, who has about 15 years on the council, solidly defeated Roger Sundermeier Jr., 4,598 votes, or 67 percent to 2,298 votes, or 33 percent.

“I’m very elated and gratified that the people had enough confidence in me to put me back in office for another four years. My opponent Roger (Sundermeier) ran a very good race. Four years from now he might want to do that again. This will be my last term,” Howard said.

The closest race was for Linda Rinker’s Ward 3, Pos. 2 seat. Rinker opted not to run for re-election. Mary Twitty squeezed by Freddie Booker by 70 votes. Twitty garnered 3,701 votes, or 50.62 percent, to Booker’s 3,631 votes, or 49.38 percent.

Twitty said, “I’m ecstatic. It’s a victory for Jacksonville. I’m still in shock.”


John Staley, a Ward alderman and Austin Police Chief, doubled up on Chief Deputy Dean White to become the new Lonoke County sheriff. Staley, a Republican, garnered 15,145 votes, or 67 percent, to White’s 7,548 votes, or 33 percent.

The incumbent county treasurer and county clerk both lost.

Democrat Karol DePriest lost to Republican Patti Weathers in a vain effort to stay county treasurer. Weathers got 14,360 votes, or 63 percent, to DePriest’s 8,371 votes, or 37 percent.

Democrat Dawn Porterfield lost in her bid to keep her county clerk position. Republican challenger Larry Clarke received 12,649 votes, or 56 percent, to Porterfield’s 9,910 votes, or 44 percent.

Circuit Judge Phillip Whiteaker was elected associate judge to the Court of Appeals, handily defeating Jeannette Robinson. Whiteaker got 15,660 votes, or 74 percent, to Robinson’s 5,618 votes, or 26 percent.

For Lonoke City Council, John Robinson defeated Janie Deering for the Ward 1 seat, 72 votes to 35. Stacey Pennington Moore took the Ward 3 seat, defeating Pat Howell, 53 votes to 16.

In Carlisle, Chad Bennett defeated Joe Cunningham, 519 votes to 260, to gain the Ward 1, Pos. 2 council seat. W.H. Kittler squeaked by Marla Cunningham by seven votes. Kittler garnered 395 votes and Cunningham had 388.

In the battle for Austin’s Ward 1, Pos. 6 council seat, Matthew Sheets bested D.G. Hammons. Sheets grabbed 438 votes to Hammons’ 177.


In Cabot, Alderman Patrick Hutton, a federal employee, had asked that his name be taken off the ballot following complaints that his campaign materials supported the Republican Party, which appeared to be a violation of federal law.

But the request was made too late and his name stayed and he won the race for the Ward 2, Pos. 1 seat by almost 300 votes. Hutton garnered 3,633 votes, or 52 percent, compared to Dallan Buchanan’s 3,344 votes, or 48 percent.

Hutton could not be reached Tuesday night, but had said earlier that he wouldn’t serve.

Jerry Shepard, the Republican member of the three-member Lonoke County Election Commission, said last week that Buchanan didn’t become the winner of the election when Hutton announced that he was pulling out.

Hutton’s declaration that he wasn’t running created a vacancy in his position, but he must remain on the council until he is replaced, Shepard said. Since there was no controversy surrounding the race for the term Hutton is currently serving, the council could simply allow him to continue serving and not appoint a replacement.

It seems that the decision rests with Hutton.

Incumbent Angie Arm-strong Hoschouer gained another term, defeating Irene Ernst. Hoschouer received 3,528 votes, or 52 percent, to Ernst’s 3,301 votes, or 48 percent.


In Sherwood, three of the incumbent aldermen, Charlie Harmon, Kevin Lilly and Marina Brooks, were unopposed, leaving only the race for Dr. Steve Fender’s open Ward 2, Pos. 2 seat.

In that battle, Mike Sanders bested Bob Ferguson by about 300 votes. Sanders garnered 1,487 votes, or 57 percent, to Ferguson’s 1,133 votes, or 43 percent.

Sanders said, late Tuesday night, “I feel good. I feel relieved. I’m excited about the victory. It was a good race between Bob (Ferguson) and myself.”


Tracy Lightfoot and Harold Welch won their battle for their council seats, while Les Cossey lost.

Lightfoot defeated Michael Weeks, gaining 1,346 votes, or 66 percent, to Weeks’ 699 votes, or 34 percent. Welch defeated David Pruitt by slightly more than 100 votes. Welch had 1,090 votes, or 54 votes, to Pruitt’s 947 votes, or 46 percent.

Cossey, who was arrested in 2010 for stealing an opponent’s campaign signs, lost to Dale Boss. Boss garnered 1,106 votes, or 54 percent, to 955 votes, or 46 percent.

EDITORIAL >> Mitt Romney swept away

“I just wasn’t made for these times.”

— Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney graciously conceded late Tuesday night. He realized a week ago that he could not win as President Obama kept gaining ground after Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York and New Jersey.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was the keynote speaker at the Republican convention, pretty much abandoned Romney after the storm, which all but doomed his candidacy.

What a difference a couple of weeks can make in a closely fought presidential race: Hurricane Sandy, decent jobs reports and a little help from Bill Clinton put Obama over the top.

The presidential campaigns spent $2.6 billion on a very close election, but a handful of battleground states decided the outcome in Obama’s favor, especially a small number of Hispanic voters in Florida, Colorado, Nevada and elsewhere who made the difference in the election. Obama won almost every battleground state he needed to put him on top in the electoral column.

After years of bashing Hispanics, the Republican Party has written off the fastest-growing minority in the U.S. Thoughtful Republicans warned against alienating this bloc of voters who, except for Cuban-Americans, trend Democratic.

Romney was unable to buck a trend that smart bloggers had spotted months ago. That trend, said polling aggregators like Nate Silver and Sam Wang, showed a clear lead for Obama in the Electoral College and a much closer popular vote.

Silver’s 538 blog set the standard for dependable forecasting. He, along with Professor Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, predicted the election last summer. The numbers changed from time to time — most dramatically after the first presidential debate in Colorado — but as Silver and Wang analyzed state polls, they realized Romney had a steep hill to climb. Republicans cried foul, but Silver and Wang were right on the money.

The auto bailout, which Romney opposed, helped Obama win Ohio. But there were many other ominous trends for the Republican Party: Suburban voters outside the Deep South stuck with the President, while first-time voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly for Obama.

Romney could have waltzed to victory, but he was a poor campaigner and never set out a clear agenda. Even his personal wealth, estimated at $250 million, couldn’t propel him to victory.

Neither side had plans to help the true middle class. Obama’s policies aim at helping the working poor, and for Romney the middle class means the upper echelons and certainly not the 47 percent he dismissed as moochers during the campaign.

Could Romney have done better? He offered vague promises if he became president and seldom hit Obama very hard. Did Romney pull his punches because of Obama’s race and the Mormon Church’s ambivalent relationship with blacks?

There were many misleading ads and not enough ideas, apart from Romney’s insistence he would repeal the Affordable Health Care Act. He offered no alternative in its place. He didn’t even suggest replacing it with the health-care law that he pushed through in Massachusetts, perhaps because the two laws are almost identical.

A year ago, the presidential race was a foregone conclusion: President Obama could not get re-elected with a lousy economy and high unemployment numbers. Six months ago, when Romney was cruising toward becoming the Republican presidential nominee, Obama looked like a certain loser.

But as the economy and the jobs numbers improved, Romney looked less confident as he looked for new themes for his campaign. He never produced a serious tax agenda or explained how he’d reduce the deficit. Instead of polishing his game, he was awkward on the campaign trail, and there was worse to come: His foreign tour last summer was embarrassing as he made gaffes wherever he went. He did well in the first debate, but he could not get ahead after the next two debates.

His biggest problem was his failed attempt to disown his past as a moderate northeastern Republican and a venture capitalist who invested in companies with dubious moral principles (like the Arkansas-founded Stericycle, which disposes of fetuses around the country) while getting preferential treatment on his taxes.

Despite Romney’s success in the financial world, political success has eluded him except for one term as governor of Massachusetts and securing his party’s presidential nomination.

Obama beat a weak opponent, but he’s earned his victory. For the sake of our nation, the deadlock in Washington must now come to an end.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

SPORTS STORY >> Mt. Ida a hard draw for Bison in opener

Leader sportswriter

After last week’s 30-14 win over England in the regular-season finale, the Carlisle Bison won a share of the 2A-6 conference championship, their third conference title in a row.

Hazen (7-3, 6-1), the 2A-6 co-champs, is still the No. 1 seed out of the conference due to its 16-14 upset win over the Bison in week seven. As a result, No. 2 seed Carlisle (8-1, 6-1) will begin the first round of the class 2A state playoffs at home Friday against the No. 4 seed from the 2A-5 conference, Mount Ida (6-4, 4-3).

“It’s a tough first round draw,” said Carlisle coach Scott Waymire about the Lions, “but you know at this time of year they’re all supposed to be pretty tough. Mount Ida’s a team that probably didn’t reach all of its expectations in the regular season. I know coach White (Mount Ida) had a lot of guys back from last year’s team that went to the second round of the playoffs.

“They were trying to win a conference championship and had some injuries that prevented that. But a new season starts and everybody is 0-0, and everybody’s on the same level, trying to win a playoff game.”

The Lions run the option-oriented split back offense, which is run primarily through senior standout running back Josh Hall. Last season, Hall set the school’s single-season rushing record with 2,234 yards.

Hall has had to play multiple roles this season. He even spent some time at quarterback when starter Dustin Elder was out due to injuries. Elder is healthy now, which has allowed Hall to go back to the backfield full time.

“He’s a player,” Waymire said of Hall. “Any time you rush for over 2,200 yards, you’re a player. And visiting with coaches in their conference, they rave about him. He has the capabilities to take a game over. We definitely have to try to bottle him up, because he’s going to get touches. He averages about 25 carries on a Friday night. So he’s going to get his touches. We just have to try and contain him, and not let him break any big ones on us. If we don’t slow him down it’s going to be a long night for us.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions will likely line up in a 5-3 or 4-4 to try and slow down the Bison run game. However, Mount Ida could be in for a long night as the Lions’ defense has given up a total of 253 points this season.

Carlisle was the best in the 2A-6 this year in both points scored and points allowed. The Bison scored 361 points in the regular season, while the defense gave up just 60. Carlisle’s offense has been led primarily by junior running back Deron Ricks.

Ricks should eclipse 1,000 rushing yards for the season this week after rushing for 145 last week against England. Ricks sat out the first quarter for undisclosed reasons, and his first carry of the game was an 8-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. However, the touchdown was waved off on a controversial illegal procedure penalty.

Ricks was penalized for leaping over an England defender during the play, which Waymire says was a misinterpretation of the rule.

“It’s a rule that you hardly ever see enforced,” Waymire said of the penalty, “but the rule states that you can’t hurdle a defender as long as that defender has one or both feet only touching the ground. They created a pile and Deron dived over our kids, and he actually dove over our guard, and got it called back.

“I’ve never seen that called, and (the officials) misinterpreted the rule in my opinion. We got a field goal out of it, but we sure should’ve had a touchdown. That was a heck of a run by Deron. That’s a big thing to have that run taken back, because he gets through a pile and then carries two guys into the end zone.”

Other than the point differentials between the two respective teams, Carlisle and Mount Ida are similar in regards to style of play. Both teams like to run the ball and line up anywhere between six and eight players up front on defense to stop the run.

Waymire knows there are areas on the field where his team will have its advantages and disadvantages, but wants all the help available, including a strong turnout from the home crowd.

“When you get in the playoffs, everybody throws in a couple of things here or there,” Waymire said. “The good thing we have is we get to play them at home. I think that’s always an advantage for the home team to play in the playoffs. So we have that going for us, but whenever it’s kickoff, it’s just a matter of two teams and who wants to keep on playing.”

SPORTS STORY >> Bears face high-flying Panthers

Leader sportswriter

Luck is a good thing to have on your side when it comes to trying to secure a playoff seed, especially when it comes to a conference as unpredictable as the 5A Central.

Sylvan Hills got a little luck when McClellan upset Little Rock Christian Academy in week 10 of the regular season. But the Bears’ good fortune ran out when it came to first-round draws.

They must face a 10-0 Greenbrier team on the road this week. The Panthers have a high-powered spread offense that averages 41.4 points per game under fifth-year coach Randy Tribble.

“They look like they are very well coached,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “The quarterback is extremely intelligent, and the defense does a good job of keeping people in front of them.”

Sylvan Hills has improved dramatically since losing key league games earlier in the season that put the Bears behind in the postseason chase, and their luck hasn’t been bad either.

The Bears took care of business in week 10 with a 42-16 victory over North Pulaski, and got the help they needed elsewhere when Little Rock McClellan pulled off a major upset over Little Rock Christian to hand Sylvan Hills the No. 4 seed out of the Central conference.

The Bears (5-5) and Panthers (10-0) will get the Class 5A playoffs underway at Don Jones Stadium this Friday at 7 p.m.

The Panthers defense has been a bend-but-don’t-break unit all season, and has given up an average of 19 points per game.

“That’s one of the things we noticed,” Withrow said. “One of the things we’ve got to do is sustain drives and keep our offense on the field. I think we’ve played better each and every week.”

The Bears had little trouble against local rival North Pulaski last week with a dominating offensive performance that included over 100 yards rushing for senior running back Ashton Brown. Sophomore Marlen Clemmons backed up Brown’s performance with solid running of his own.

“I thought the kids up front played real well,” Withrow said. “Ashton and Marlen both ran the ball well, and we did a good job defensively. We didn’t give up any big plays.”

The Bears accomplished all that without the services of junior linebacker Kylan Wade, who was held out of the Falcons game with an injury. Wade is expected to be cleared and return to action this week.

Sylvan Hills let a few winnable games slip out of its grasp earlier in the season, most notably a 28-0 loss to Christian to begin 5A Central play in week 4. But since then, the progress has been evident to Withrow over the past month.

“There have been a few disappointments,” Withrow said. “When you look at Little Rock Christian, but other than that, we’ve been better on the whole. I’ve been pleased with the kids, and I think once we solidified what were trying to do on offense, things got a lot better.”

The winner between Sylvan Hills and Greenbrier will go on to the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs and face the winner between Batesville and Hot Springs Lakeside this Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Old foes meet in playoffs yet again

Leader sportswriter

Some teams just can’t seem to avoid each other.

Such is the case with Lonoke and its Class 4A first-round playoff opponent Warren this week. The Jackrabbits and Lumberjacks have faced off five times in the postseason since 2004. Lonoke won the most recent meeting between the two teams back in 2009 on its way to the 4A state championship game, but repeating that success will be quite the task this Friday against a Warren squad which swept the 4A-8 conference quite easily.

That Lumberjacks’ 7-0 league mark was quite a turnaround from its 0-3 start that included a one-point loss to Shiloh Christian and blowout losses to class 5A’s top two teams, Pulaski Academy and Camden Fairview.

Lonoke (6-4) will travel to Jim Hurley Stadium to face Warren (7-3) at 7 p.m. this Friday.

“I don’t know how playoff brackets work out that way,” Lonoke coach Doug Bost said. “We’ve played each other five times since’04, and it’s always a battle for sure.”

The Jackrabbits’ late season surge did not come in time to improve their playoff seeding, leaving them stuck with an undesirable No. 5 seed, but a 28-7 victory over then top-ranked Stuttgart has given Lonoke plenty of respect around the state entering the postseason.

The Jackrabbits backed that performance up with a 55-28 spanking of Clinton last week. The Yellowjackets cleaned up the score somewhat in the late going with a pair of quick passing touchdowns against what was essentially Lonoke’s junior-varsity defense.

The Jackrabbits secured a mercy rule early in the third quarter, and gave many of their starters a rest.

That led to the cheap scores by Clinton, but it also gave Bost a chance to evaluate younger players. One player in particular who stood out on the offensive side was sophomore running back Devin Moseley, who helped Lonoke keep the chains moving in the fourth quarter with strong inside running.

“He played on the offensive line the last three years (in junior high),” Bost said. “But he said he wanted a shot at playing running back. I’ll tell you, he gives us the best look on our scout team offense every week. I’m pretty excited about him.”

But the biggest gains on the night came from senior running back Eric Williams, who scored five touchdowns against the Yellowjackets with over 200 yards rushing. Lonoke’s running game as a whole has been unstoppable for opponents of late.

“We want to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Bost said. “When the running game is going, you’ve got the play-action passes, so you can work that when the run is good, but right now, we like the direction we’ve been going.”

Defensive play has also been a plus for Lonoke after holding Stuttgart and dynamic quarterback Dontrell Brown to a single score two weeks ago.

The Jackrabbits have made a habit of shutting down premier backs in the last half of the regular season, including Southside Batesville standout Jordan Childress.

“The defense has just been lights out,” Bost said. “Last week, we were trying to get as many second-teamers out there as we could. Most of them got about a quarter and a half out there.”

The success of Lonoke’s passing game this week will depend on the availability of leading receiver Blake Mack. Mack, who has 30 receptions for 712 yards and eight touchdowns so far this season, suffered a sprained ankle early in the Clinton game and did not play after the first series.

Mack was expected back in practice Monday, but Bost said he was going to be cautious with the athletic junior.

Defensively, the Jackrabbits return one key player while losing another.

Lineman Styver Hamric returns after an early-season injury that dislocated his knee cap, but defensive tackle Nelson Brown came out of the Clinton game with a torn meniscus, and will be out for the rest of the season.

SPORTS STORY >> Devil Dogs score points

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville enters its first-round playoff game at Morrilton on a two-game losing streak. After starting the conference schedule with five consecutive wins, the Red Devils lost in the final minute to Mills in week nine and fell 51-7 to Pulaski Academy in their final regular-season game. That dropped the Devils to third place and forces them west for a first-round game against the 7-2 Devil Dogs.

Jacksonville coach Rick Russell noticed some lingering disappointment from this team during Saturday meetings, but says the team bounced back well.

“We don’t want losing to not bother them,” Russell said. “We don’t want them to be ok with that feeling. But we want them to have a short memory and I think they do. Monday they came back to practice and had a great attitude. It was cold and wet, but they worked through those conditions and we had a pretty good practice. From this point we won’t look backwards. Our only focus is the game this week.”

Morrilton finished 6-1 in conference play with its only loss coming against 5A West champion Greenbrier. The Devil Dogs have a potent offense that has averaged 32 points per game this season. In its final four games since the loss to Greenbrier, Morrilton has averaged 45 points per game in wins over Vilonia, Huntsville, Harrison and Clarksville. The Devils Dogs have given up just 10.8 points in those four wins.

“I think we’ve been playing pretty well offensively the last few games,” Morrilton coach Cody McNabb said. “We’ve thrown it a little more in those games than we had been and we’ve been fortunate enough to score some points. But I don’t know that we’ve gone up against a defense quite as athletic as Jacksonville’s in any of those games.”

Jacksonville has held opponents to two scores or fewer in six of its 10 games. Only 7A Cabot, 6A Benton, juggernaut Pulaski Academy and McClellan, who surprised the Devils by fielding DI athlete Ackee Johnson for the first time this season, scored more than 14 points against Jacksonville this year.

McNabb noticed the defense during film study over the weekend.

“I was impressed with their defense,” McNabb said. “Their ability to move; they just don’t seem to stay blocked for very long. To me they look like they’re a lot bigger than we are. We’ve been able to score some points this year but we’re going to have our work cut out for us this week for sure.”

Morrilton’s biggest scoring threat is running back/receiver Jamar Chriswell (5-10, 165), but the Devil Dogs have several skill players with breakaway speed. They also have a Division I offensive tackle in Gilberto Garcia (6-1, 270) who has committed to the University of Central Arkansas.

Russell’s biggest concern is Morrilton’s team speed.

“What they do is they line up in formations where they could run four different plays out of that same formation and movement,” Russell said. “So we’ve got to play great technique and assignment football on defense. We’ve played a few other teams that do this same thing, but I think Morrilton has that breakaway speed at every skill position. So we’re going to have to be very good on defense. This could be one of those games that comes down to four or five plays and we want to win those plays.”

Jacksonville may not have the overall team speed that Morrilton has, but it does have more speed than most teams in Morrilton’s conference, according to McNabb.

“You start with making sure you know where number 15 (Kevin Richardson) is,” McNabb said. “He’s one of the faster guys we’ve seen this year. But I’m also impressed with their quarterback (Aaron Smith) and number 5 (Lamont Gause). You can’t just key on 15 because they’ve got some other guys that’ll beat you if you do. That quarterback can pull it down and make some plays with his feet. The running back doesn’t look very big, but he sure looks harder to get down than he should be. He’s got good quickness, and he can break tackles.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Morrilton High School.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils, Falcons impressive at first jamboree

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville and North Pulaski boys basketball teams opened the exhibition portion of the season on Saturday in the annual Jacksonville Jamboree. The all-day affair saw seven teams face off for one half against two other teams.

Jacksonville divided into two groups, varsity and junior varsity. Jacksonville and North Pulaski each played one half against JA Fair and another half against each other to close the festivities.

Jacksonville coach Vic Joyner got about what he expected out of the event.

“Jamborees are just your first test to see where you are,” Joyner said. “I thought we competed well. We saw some things to work on. With so many of our main players still in football, I thought the ones we had out there did a good job.”

North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson was also pleased. With the football Falcons not making the playoffs, Jackson had most of his roster available on Saturday, but they weren’t all up to speed.

“I was able to bring most of the football guys over, but they haven’t had but about one full practice,” Jackson said. “It helped to be able to bring the whole team and have a chance to see them as a unit, but you could tell we weren’t full in sync. But for the first time out of the gate, I thought the kids played hard and competed really well.”

Jacksonville’s junior varsity squad faced off against Pulaski Robinson to open play on Saturday afternoon. Those two squads played two halves with Jacksonville coming out on top 45-33. Sophomore Tedrick Wolfe and junior Kahlil Hart led the way in that game.

“Tedrick came out and did a really good job for a guy that hadn’t been out there,” Joyner said. “I thought Hart played with a lot of aggression and poise. He handled himself really well.”

North Pulaski and Fair struggled offensively, which Jackson said was somewhat expected. The Falcons ended up with a 27-21 advantage when the half ended. Jacksonville’s varsity finished with a 13-point advantage over Fair and beat North Pulaski 37-29.

“I thought Joe Aiken came on and had a good turnout,” Jackson said. “I thought my freshman Rashawn Langston played well. Andrew Wilson played well also and I thought Eric Mouton made some good plays at times. Overall I was pleased because everybody played hard. We’re going to have a little bit of depth so there are going to be nights where different people step up as long as everybody continues to play hard.”

Jacksonville kept it simple on defense with the varsity squad, playing only man defense in both halves. Senior, three-year starter Justin McCleary led the way. Detailed statistics weren’t kept, but McCleary was the leading scorer and go-to man on offense from his point-guard position.

Senior post player Keith Charleston and junior guard Sergio Berkley were also singled out for praise from Joyner.

“I thought those three guys all played solid, a little ahead maybe of where you expect to be at this point,” Joyner said. “We didn’t press, didn’t trap, no zone defense, but I thought the veterans did a pretty decent job with what we were trying to do.”

SPORTS STORY >> Hornets’ passing attack is Cabot’s concern

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers try to continue their turnaround this week when they head to Bryant for the first round of the class 7A playoffs. The Panthers were on the brink of collapse earlier this season when they dropped to 2-3 in league play with back-to-back losses to Little Rock Central and West Memphis, two games Cabot should have won.

Since then, the Panthers dominated heavily favored Jonesboro, and pulled away from Searcy for a three-touchdown win.

While Bryant’s formations are similar to Cabot’s last two opponents, the Hornets are not a run-first team like the Hurricanes and Lions. Bryant has averaged 43 points per game in conference play this season, and starters played little or no minutes in the second half of any of its five conference wins.

Leading the way for Bryant is quarterback Hayden Lessenberry. He cracked the 2,000 yards passing mark for the second-consecutive season last week with 400 yards passing.

The Hornets, are, however, entering the playoffs on a bitter note after losing their regular-season finale 42-35 to El Dorado. A win in that game would have made Bryant a number three seed and hosting Little Rock Central, a team its already beaten 28-7 this season.

Despite the loss, the offense was still very good. Bryant compiled nearly 500 yards of offense, with 400 of it coming through the air.

Bryant’s wide-open passing attack is the thing that most concerns Cabot coach Mike Malham, whose teams have struggled with that kind of offense in past playoff games.

“Their quarterback is as good as any we’ve seen and they have three wide receivers that can all hurt you,” Malham said. “The quarterback does a good job of know the offense and finding the open receiver, and he’s got plenty of good ones to throw to. They’ve been moving it on everybody they’ve played so one thing we’ll have to do is do our job on offense and play a little keep away. We need to limit their snaps with long drives. If we can’t do that, we’re going to be in some trouble.”

Cabot’s offense has been able to do that in recent weeks, and it finally seems to be at full strength now that the postseason has arrived. The Panthers have suffered several injuries to offensive players this year, mostly running backs. They expect to take the field in Saline County this Friday with its full slate of backs.

Starting fullback Zach Launius and starting halfback Max Carroll came back last week and knocked some of the rust off after sitting out several weeks with various injuries. Launius carried 16 times for 98 yards and Carroll had about 70 yards rushing in the game. Co-starting fullback Kyle Edgar has carried the bulk of the load in Launius’ absence, and halfback Chris Henry broke several long runs in Carroll’s absence.

“We’ve had pretty good depth at running back so it hasn’t hurt us a whole lot to be missing guys,” Malham said. “For a while there we started getting really thin, but it helps to be full strength this time of year. Launius gives us some speed at fullback we didn’t have without him. Of course Kyle is stronger and he’s hard to bring down. Having them both healthy gives some strengths we wouldn’t have without one or the other.”