Tuesday, September 17, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Stand by our hospital

It’s quite likely that many of us who live here have never been a patient at North Metro Medical Center, and unless things begin to change, and change rather quickly, many more will never be cared for in what was once a star in Jacksonville’s firmament.

We cannot fault the present owners, Allegiance Health Management, for the sins of the past. The finger should also be pointed at Jacksonville, owner of the hospital before Allegiance, a Shreveport, La., outfit with 42 facilities took over in 2009.

North Metro, being in a low-income community, was and remains at risk for nonpayment on a large scale. We cannot lay all the blame at Allegiance’s feet. North Metro had already lost status in the eyes of the community and with it much respect by the time Allegiance arrived with promises to save the day.

Health-insurance industry and government-reimbursement programs specify how much will be paid for diagnostic services and procedures. Those payments now arrive later, not sooner, and hospital emergency rooms have become veritable sitting ducks for those with- out insurance.

The new insurance regulations about to come into play should be good news for a facility like North Metro, which could at last collect for much of the care it now delivers and is never properly reimbursed for. We don’t know how much North Metro has out in collections, but we imagine it is more than substantial.

Jacksonville’s city fathers saw this coming a long time ago when, after closing the 2004 fiscal year with a healthy balance of $652,000, they were suddenly faced with a $98,000 loss the following year. In 2005-06, losses came to $804,000 and plummeted to an astounding $3 million loss for 2007-08. The 2007-08 fiscal year closed with a negative income of $2.38 million, a slight improvement, but not much of a selling point. Who was watching the store?

Mayor Gary Fletcher recently remarked that the military sees health care as critical when bases come under BRAC review for closure. Officials continually point out that Little Rock Air Force Base needs a nearby hospital since the base hospital was closed. Nearby St. Vincent Medical Center North and Baptist Medical Center-Springhill stand ready to fill the gap, but in an emergency, proximity to medical care and emergency services is all important.

The hospital must be preserved as the important part of this community’s persona that it is. Loss of the hospital would be a sign of serious decline on top of struggling schools and businesses closing.

Allegiance says it is committed to the community and to North Metro and sees the potential for a successful facility, pointing out the many improvements it has already made here. Many of those improvements, such as the new outpatient surgery unit, the hospital’s relationship with UAMS and innovative wound care, were pointed out in earlier stories in The Leader.

North Metro is the first line of defense for emergencies arriving from points north and east since there is no hospital in Lonoke County and none south of Searcy in White County.

There is also some talk, possibly only a pipe dream, of a collaborative effort between Cabot and Jacksonville to locate the hospital nearer to the Lonoke County line. A brand-spanking new hospital! What a nice idea.

Ambulance transports from serious vehicle accidents, serious cardiovascular events or gunshot or other wounds often end up at North Metro first for emergency stabilization before transport to the trauma center at UAMS or another facility.

Allegiance has beefed up many of its services from emergency to rehabilitation to psychiatric and wound care, and much more is planned.

Allegiance perhaps saw itself as coming to the rescue. Is it still possible? Community support is essential but Allegiance must keep up appearances — shortages of essential items, broken equipment and unpaid bills bode ill for Jacksonville and the larger community.

Allegiance emphasizes its committment to Jacksonville, but it must step up to the plate and perhaps dip further into its pockets to deliver care in the kind of physical environment that patients deserve. First impressions are important and word spreads when patients, staff and visitors notice problems.

The hospital’s interim chief executive officer Cindy Stafford began her career as a registered respiratory therapist and later moved into administration. Perhaps there’s no one who knows the inner workings of a hospital better than those who have delivered care themselves. They know the inside story, and we think Ms. Stafford does, too. Throw her your support.

And that goes for you, too, Allegiance.

TOP STORY >> Sergeant ready for worst

Leader staff writer

Just days before the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Master Sgt. William Catton of Lonoke led a mass-casualty exercise at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.

“When we plan exercises, stuff that could happen, the anniversary stuff may happen on, that’s all part of the planning process,” Catton said.

On Sept. 11, 2001, the sergeant was in the service but on leave in Illinois.

“My first thought was we’re going to war,” he said.

Catton added that 80 or 90 servicemen on the base in Afghanistan attended a ceremony last week to remember the heroes who rose up on that dark day.

Brig. Gen. Patrick C. Malackowski, commander of 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, presided over the event.

Catton, as the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron installation emergency manager, coordinated the Sept. 7 exercise in Afghanistan less than a week before the anniversary. The installation and Craig Joint Theater Hospital coordinated the exercise.

Catton explained that it was designed to simulate any emergency — from a terrorist attack to a devastating multiple-vehicle collision — that would leave several victims in its wake.

Airmen, firefighters, local hospital personnel, an ambulance team, security forces and others were given 30 faux victims to take care of.

Catton said, “They had to triage the victims, decide whether they went to the local hospital or clinic. The worst wounded go first, the least wounded go last.”

The exercise prepared the base for a real-world event, honing and sharpening the individual skills of each entity, he continued.

The purpose of the four-hour simulation was to evaluate patient care, evaluate the processing of patients and evaluate the validation of support and command control entities.

“It tested all those agencies to make sure we could do the mission if something were to happen,” Catton said.

The participants spent two months prepping for the exercise, Catton added. The sergeant’s job was to make sure they were where they were supposed to be.

“(The exercise) went very well. We did all the objectives we had,” he said. “You always learn lessons when you do any kind of exercise. We always learn how to better our communication processes.”

Catton noted that communication could be more streamlined in the future.

According to a news release, “Regular (mass-casualty) exercises at Bagram train service members and keep them prepared to handle unexpected incidents and other potential disasters, and furthermore enables them to take those skills to their home units.”

The sergeant is an 18-year military veteran and served 10 of those years in the Air Force.

He has been deployed for two months from the 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, but could return home in January.

About deployment, Catton said, “It’s very busy. This place never shuts down. It makes the time go by real fast. Never a dull moment.”

He continued, “The most challenging (part) is being away from family.”

Catton has been married for 14 years. The couple has two children, a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old.

He said, “I’d love to say that I miss them, I love them and I’ll see them soon.”

Catton added that they are doing “pretty good” at handling the deployment.

“Unfortunately my wife is an old hat at this,” he explained.

The sergeant first enlisted when he was 17.

“It’s pretty much all I’ve ever known. I’m a career service man. I’m in until they kick me out,” Catton said. “I love what I do. It boils down to I love serving my country and helping people.”

TOP STORY >> Fleecing by FEMA a scandal

Leader editor

Tommy Bond, the veteran Jacksonville engineer, solves people’s zoning problems, disputes with government officials and even disagreements between neighbors.

His sharp, analytical mind and easy-going manner help smooth over what at first appear to be insurmountable problems, especially when he’s dealing with bureaucrats and their ridiculous demands on hardworking individuals.

Someone called him a few months ago after FEMA, using incorrect maps, decided the flood plain has moved closer to Graham Road along the railroad tracks, forcing property owners to buy flood insurance for thousands of dollars a year.

That didn’t make much sense to Bond, who has been an engineer for almost 50 years. He was certain FEMA was wrong about the floodplain, having figured out a long time ago FEMA folks can’t produce accurate maps, costing property owners $100 million a year.

Every month, a half dozen or more homeowners ask him to survey their property and prove FEMA wrong. Bond has saved a lot of money for scores of people who would otherwise have bought flood insurance if FEMA had its way.

One business owner was charged $2,300 for flood insurance he didn’t need. After six months, Bond set FEMA straight and the premiums were canceled.

“Our job is to present facts to FEMA,” Bond explained. “We’re more often successful than not.”

When people and institutions are pressured into buying millions of dollars worth of unnecessary flood insurance, it reduces the risk to FEMA by making property owners pay for flooding outside their areas. Even if a home is just outside a flood zone, FEMA will say it’s inside so it can generate more insurance premiums.

“They’ll say you need flood insurance or you have to prove it otherwise,” Bond said.

It can take months to convince federal officials they’re wrong. Most folks just pay the higher insurance premium even if they’re nowhere near the floodplain. But you can beat FEMA if you have the facts on your side.

Michael Teague, an aide to Sen. Mark Pryor, calls FEMA’s maps “arbitrary and capricious.”

FEMA, which went broke after Hurricane Katrina, had proposed a law that would have put three-fourths of the country in the floodplain, Teague said. “The senator led the charge to change the law,” he noted.

Even so, FEMA has been eager to sell insurance to millions of people who don’t need it, requiring coverage for areas in a 500-year or even 1,000-year floodplain, Teague said.

“There were areas that have never been flooded. Pryor killed the plan,” he explained.

But problems still persist as FEMA insists on putting homes in flood zones even if they’re not even close. Teague says homeowners should call Pryor’s office if they can’t get FEMA out of their lives.

It would be a good idea also to call Tommy Bond.

Back in July, the muckraking website ProPublica published an exposé headlined, “Using outdated data, FEMA is wrongly placing homeowners in flood zones.”

FEMA, which has had its budget cut, tried transferring its old maps into digital formats, which often don’t line up correctly, moving homes from safe areas into floodplains. After new maps were issued recently, one couple north of Austin, Texas, learned their home was moved to a flood zone, although they live on a hill and “there’s no way it’s going to flood,” the county’s director of environmental services told ProPublica.

The couple received help from half a dozen engineers, shelled out $1,000 of their own money and spent “ungodly number of hours” to prove FEMA’s maps were wrong. FEMA relented a year later, but how many people will challenge a federal bureaucracy and its menacing ways?

FEMA won’t reimburse you for surveying costs. One person told ProPublica, “It falls to the homeowner to hire a professional engineer and pay (hundreds, even thousands of dollars) “to disprove what I would call their shoddy work,” she said. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

According to ProPublica, “Congress, with the support of the White House, has actually cut map funding by more than half since 2010, from $221 million down to $100 million this year.”

People will more often buy the insurance even if there’s a long drought just to get FEMA and the banks off their backs. Banks are also easily intimidated when the feds insist borrowers must buy flood insurance.

Mistakes are inevitable, but unless homeowners are willing to challenge FEMA, which takes months to review complaints, they’ll get stuck with huge premiums for decades.

If someone from FEMA shows up at your door and says you need flood insurance, hold onto your wallet and call your senators and local surveyor.They could save you a bundle.

TOP STORY >> LRAFB always ready

Leader senior staff writer

Security measures at Little Rock Air Force Base’s main gate seemed unchanged a day after civilian contractor and former Navy reservist Aaron Alexis, 34, shot 12 people dead and wounded another three before being shot dead on Monday by local law-enforcement officers at the Washington Navy Yard.

No changes seemed evident as civilians entered the base here Tuesday. That appeared to be the case at bases and installations around the country, but the Defense Department is expected to announce Wednesday a review of security measures at all U.S. millitary bases around the world.

“We really can’t discuss any security postures,” said Arlo Taylor, a Little Rock Air Force Base public affairs spokesman. He said only that the base’s security force specialists were manning the gate, which is standard.

Tuesday morning, just a week after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed about 3,000 people at New York’s Twin Towers Trade Center, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid a wreath at the Navy Memorial’s “Lone Sailor” statue in memory of the 12 victims.


The Defense Department, which sets baseline security levels for all military installations in the U.S., ordered no known security changes other than those in the Washington area in the hours following the shootings while officials sorted out the details and implications of the attack.

Both law-enforcement and defense officials say they believe this was the work of a lone gunman.

It would be extraordinarily difficult to prevent any attack from occurring, particularly by a “lone wolf,” according to Joseph Trevithick of GlobalSecurity.org.

“Unfortunately, terrorism and similar acts of violence are bound only by the creativity of those responsible,” Trevithick wrote in an article published Tuesday on CNN.com. “The burden is always on those tasked with protecting us to prepare for such events.”


Trevithick said that even if employees would submit to airport-style security checks, were willing to have their vehicles searched or dismantled, there were no guarantees.

Chris Grollnek, founder of the Texas-based Counter-measure Consulting Group, said some installations have made more progress on security than others. Trying to prevent incidents before they take place can be tricky because it’s usually impossible to identify suspects in advance.

“They’re black, they’re white, they’re men, they’re women —no one knows what the profile is,” he said.

Grollnek consults and provides training in active-shooter scenarios and risk assessment.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke County Fair opens today

Leader managing editor

Enthusiasm runs high in Lonoke County, where the 73rd annual county fair gets underway in earnest today as the carnival opens at the fairgrounds in Lonoke.

Fair Queen Erica Brewer and Junior Queen Emily Brewer, two sisters, were selected Saturday along with their bevy of royalty.

The carnival gets into full swing at noon today and continues until 11 p.m. each night through Saturday. Armbands offer unlimited rides, except for bumper cars.

“On behalf of our board of directors and our volunteers, I welcome you to your 73rd Lonoke County Fair. With a lot of hard work, cooperative and continuing effort, this fair will be the best in a long history of great fairs,” said James Smith, Lonoke County Fair and Livestock Association Board president, in a message in the fair’s tabloid. “Come enjoy the tradition, competition, good eats and the fun at your 2013 Lonoke County Fair.”

He pointed out that the county’s young people spend months preparing for the event and learning that hard work makes the best better.

The big crowd-drawing events — bull riding, rodeo, the queen’s grand entry and bullnanza are Friday and Saturday nights.

Bullnanza from Rockin’ P Rodeo and the National Federation of Professional Bull Riders of America adds $2,000 to the pot each night.

The Rodeo Queen Horsemanship Competition will be held at 6 p.m. tonight in the arena, and the Queen will make her grand entry at 7:30 p.m. Friday and again at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The fair parade will be held at 5 p.m. Thursday, followed by redneck games at 7:30 p.m.

Other popular and favorite events are the beef cattle show at 8 a.m. Friday and a livestock awards presentation at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The horse and mule pull, a perennial favorite, takes place at 11 a.m Saturday, in between the children’s small animal pet show and the cross cut saw contest. The youth talent show will follow.

The full schedule and detailed map of the fairgrounds can be found in the Lonoke County Fair tabloid in the Sept. 11 issue of The Leader and The Leader Extra. You can also check out the fair’s website at www.lonokecountyfair.com.

On Thursday, admission is free for seniors over 62.

Gate admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children 6 or over and free for those who are younger.

Fairgrounds are located at 1006 W. Third in Lonoke at Hwy. 89.

Other notable events are happening in the Educational Building today under the supervision of the Lonoke County Extension Homemakers Club. Event judging today in that building opens with cut flowers and herbs. Other categories include floriculture, horticulture and field crop judging.

Dairy-goat judging begins at 8 a.m., followed by the breeding-goat show, junior market lambs and breeding. Lambs, heifers and steers for market will be weighed this afternoon followed by junior and pee wee livestock including beef, cattle, dairy cattle, horses, mules, sheep, swine and goats. Bringing up the rear are market swine and commercial gilts.

A few rules include no dogs except during the pet show from 10 a.m. to noon. Dogs are not allowed in the livestock barn at any time. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed and will not be tolerated. There is no smoking allowed in barns or buildings.

SPORTS STORY >> Competition level rising for Carlisle

Leader sportswriter

The Bison play their final nonconference game of the regular season this week at home against class 3A Osceola (1-1), and even though the game itself has no playoff or conference implications, Carlisle coach Brandon Barbaree believes it’s a great opportunity for his team to face stellar competition before 2A-6 Conference play begins next week.

Carlisle (2-0), the No. 2 team in class 2A, dominated most of the way in its week one win over McCrory, but in week two’s win at Mountain Pine, the host Red Devils, who have only 17 players on their roster, did almost nothing to challenge the Bison.

This week however, Barbaree knows his team will get that challenge from a traditionally-tough and athletic Seminoles team.

“We just want to see growth,” said Barbaree as to what he’d like to see from his team Friday. “Yea, we want to stay healthy, but we need competitive football games and this is definitely one of them. To play at Mountain Pine and get a ‘W’ is fine, but we need somebody that’s going to push us, and I think this might be that game that we get four quarters, and our kids need that kind of competitive game.”

Carlisle’s trio of senior standout running backs that include Bo Weddle, DeRon Ricks and Justice Bryant, combined for just six carries in the team’s 46-7 win over Mountain Pine, but each scored a touchdown and the three combined for 196 rushing yards on those six carries.

Barbaree says that Osceola has switched from its traditional Wishbone offense to more of a Pistol/Spread formation, but added that the Seminoles are capable of executing run plays from their old offense. Barbaree also said his defense can expect a more balanced attack.

According to Barbaree, the Seminoles’ offense is balanced 60/40 as far as run/pass ratio, and even though the Bison won’t have to deal with former Osceola running back and current Arkansas Razorback freshman Korliss Marshall this season, he said there are still plenty of playmakers that his defense will have to try and contain.

One of those playmakers is junior running back Tevin James, whose older brothers Harold and Chris each received Division I football scholarships after graduating from Osceola in the early 2000s.

“Tevin fits that same mold,” Barbaree said. “The guy can fly. He’s scored on a kickoff and interception return. He’s got a long receiving touchdown and he’s broke for long rushing touchdowns.”

The other playmaker Barbaree described as a threat is Ashton Mills.

“He had 200 yards against Blytheville,” Barbaree said of Mills, “which Blytheville can run too. So their level of competition has been high and they have the athletes that have the chance to score quickly from anywhere.”

Defensively, the Seminoles line up primarily in a 50 formation, which in many ways resembles a 3-4. Carlisle got to rest a lot of its starters against Mountain Pine last week, so the Bison starters should be healthy and ready to go come Friday.

Carlisle could be considered the favorite for this game, even though Barbaree himself admitted Osceola is the bigger, more athletic team. However, Barbaree and his team welcome the challenge.

“It’s going to test us in a bunch of ways,” Barbaree said. “This is a team that’s more athletic than us. McCrory wasn’t more athletic than us but they were athletic. Mountain Pine wasn’t, but this team is more athletic, and it’s really going to test us in a bunch of spots.”

Kickoff at Fred C. Hardke Field is set for 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Red Devils working on right technique

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville football team enters week three of the 2013 season without a win and searching for consistency as it prepares for a high-scoring Maumelle squad that enters this Friday’s game at Jan Crow Stadium 2-0.

After being shutout by Cabot in week one, the Red Devils looked like a completely different team in its first two drives last Friday against Benton. After scoring two touchdowns in a matter of minutes, Jacksonville then failed to get a first down in its next four drives. Suddenly, midway through the second quarter, the Devils looked brilliant again, marching 80 yards in eight plays for another score and a 21-7 lead. But from that point, things went poorly again for the offense, while the defense was suddenly on its heels the rest of the game as well.

Benton didn’t do anything fancy. Its best play was the read option handoff to the fullback up the middle.

Jacksonville coach Rick Russell believes technique and effort were the two main problems.

“We have to correct the technique problems we’re having at every position,” Russell said. “That will make us a better football team. We haven’t had a complete game at any position. We need to get better aiming points on our blocks. We need to take the correct approach angle when tackling. The secondary needs to work on how to approach the football in coverage. Every little intricate thing we’re needing to make improvements on.”

Russell also believes the effort will improve when his team can learn to put bad plays behind it.

“We also have to work on our mental toughness,” Russell said. “Sometimes things are going to go well for the other team. We have to understand how to move to the next play and say, ‘right now this next play is the only play of the game and I have to do the best I can on this play. We have to regroup mentally and create that swing that gets things back to going well for us.”

The Hornets may be the fastest team Jacksonville has faced so far. Coach Mike Buchan runs the spread, but keeps it on the ground more often than in the air. Maumelle lines multiple players up at quarterback and has a bevy of dangerous running backs and receivers.

Kendall Donnerson, who is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, is the top receiver, but is a bigger threat at defensive end.

“Maumelle is a dangerous football team,” Russell said. “They run that spread option and every option they have is a threat to make a big play. On defense they have an end that’s as fast as any in the state. They’ve got a lot of weapons.”

Russell wasn’t all negative about his team either. He bragged on special teams, as well as the play of Brandon Toombs.

“Special teams converted every extra point and put a couple of kickoffs into the end zone, so that’s a bright spot for us,” Russell said. “And Brandon Toombs is playing on both sides of the football for us and giving us everything he’s got. We’re very proud of Brandon.

“We’re going to be OK. We haven’t played a complete football game yet. We’re going to make a few changes, tweak a few things here and there, get the right people in the right positions on the football field. Once we do that and get our technique corrected, we’re going to be a good football team.”

SPORTS STORY >> Bears, ’Hounds highlight speed

Leader sportswriter

It is a third-week nonconference game, but the fact that Sylvan Hills and Newport each enter Friday night’s showdown at Greyhound Stadium with the momentum of two wins gives the game a playoff feel. Both teams feature great speed and plenty of playmakers on offense, which also sets up the possibility of a thrilling shootout.

The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff time, and the conclusion will hand one of these talented teams its first loss of the season.

The Bears (2-0) survived a late-game comeback from Hot Springs Lakeside last week in a 45-41 victory after downing Vilonia 31-16 in the season opener. The Greyhounds (2-0) have been even more convincing with a 28-7 win over Nettleton in week one and a 42-7 spanking of Bald Knob last week.

The game will undoubtedly serve as a great conference primer for both teams, as Sylvan Hills prepares to head into its 5A Central Conference schedule next week, while the Grey-hounds prime for the equally competitive 4A–2 Conference.

The Greyhounds have numerous weapons, but none more threatening than sophomore running back Carl Turner. Turner was a varsity starter last season as a freshman, and got the state’s attention with over 1,700 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.

“They’ve got a good running back that ran for over 1,500 yards last year,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “And they have a really tall receiver who is really good. Defensively, they blitz a lot from different spots, with a lot of man coverage. This will be a good trip for us. It’s a long ride to face a good team, and we think there will be a good crowd there, so it will be a good experience.”

Newport is also effective in the passing game with junior quarterback Gunnar Bullard, who threw for over 1,300 yards with 21 touchdowns and three interceptions as a sophomore. Bullard is also somewhat of a dual threat with over 400 rushing yards last season. Senior receivers Greg Smith and 6-foot-4 Ashante Shell provide Bullard with capable targets on the field.

The Bears have also shown great balance to start the 2013 season, and the passing game continues to improve on a daily basis. Junior quarterback Trajan Doss is a true dual threat, and sophomore Elijah Sowards (6-0, 211) is emerging as the team’s leading receiver with seven receptions, including one for a touchdown, last week against Lakeside. Junior DeAngelo Bell has also proved to be a reliable option for Doss in the passing game. Sylvan Hills finished with 454 yards of offense in the victory over HSL.

“Tra’s done a good job, and the guys up front have done a good job giving him protection,” Withrow said. “Sowards, Bell, all those guys stay late and put in extra work at practice.”

Junior Marlon Clemmons has developed into an ironman for the Bears. Clemmons had five pass break ups on the defensive side last week, and was equally impressive on the offensive side with over 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards.

The Rams scored twice late last week in the fourth quarter against Sylvan Hills, making a game that at one point looked out of reach into a nail-biter at the end.

“It was a long game,” Withrow said. “They did a good job of working the clock and using the run game. The defense made a lot of plays, there were just so many plays in that game. They’re a good Spread team.

“There are things we could do different, and will. We can work those things out.”

SPORTS STORY >> ’Rabbits look to build on last game

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke picked up its first win of the year in surprisingly dominant fashion last week at James B. Abraham Stadium after running all over longtime rival Beebe. This week the Jackrabbits will be looking to make it two in a row as they host another home game Friday against class 5A Little Rock McClellan in the final nonconference game of the regular season.

The Jackrabbits (1-1) racked up a ton of yards on the ground in their 41-14 win over the Badgers, and since McClellan (0-2) lacks both size and experience on the offensive and defensive lines, perhaps an even better performance can be expected this week.

“Yea, just looking at them on film, our offensive and defensive lines should have an advantage,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “They play some guys both ways and they’re not real big, but their skill guys are I think the heart and soul of their team.”

McClellan’s offensive line is the most noteworthy weakness on that side of the ball that Lonoke’s defense expects to exploit. The Lions have no returning starters up front, and none of their current starters can bench press 200 pounds. As far as the skill positions go, like Bost said, they’re the ones that can make things happen.

McClellan has a couple of players that will either line up at quarterback, receiver or running back in the team’s misdirection-based Single Wing formation; an offense Bost says is rarely seen these days. Senior Sydney Tillman and junior Aaron Smith are the two main Lions players that will line up at different spots on the field.

Most of the Lions’ starting skill players run at least a 4.6/40, the fastest of which is elusive junior Ezekiel Baldwin (5-foot-5, 160), who runs a 4.4/40. Bost added that his defensive players will have to stay disciplined against this type of offense. On the flip side, Bost added that his offense can expect to see blitzing from the Lions’ 3-4 defense every time the ball is snapped.

“You’ve really got to read your keys this week and not chase somebody that doesn’t have the ball,” Bost said. “So we’ve got to be disciplined this week, and on defense, they run a 3-4, and they are blitzing somebody every single play. They are coming at you.”

Blitzing someone every play may be the best strategy for McClellan to stop Lonoke’s run game. Last week against Beebe, the Jackrabbits totaled 523 yards of offense, and senior quarterback Kody Smith and sophomore running back Josh Coleman combined for 361 rushing yards and six touchdowns alone.

Coleman’s emergence out of the backfield could give Lonoke a big offensive boost for the remainder of the season, and Bost was especially pleased with his performance last week.

“He had 16 carries for 161 yards and four touchdowns,” Bost said of Coleman. “He had a real good game. He was hitting the hole hard and he did a great job for us Friday night. I feel like we did a real good job of running the ball.”

The Jackrabbits should be in good shape for Friday’s game as Bost says his team suffered zero setbacks as far as injuries in last week’s game, and considering McClellan hasn’t won a nonconference game since 2009, Lonoke could be in good position to end nonconference play this season with a 2-1 record. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Conway bringing respect

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers host the Conway Wampus Cats in a big rivalry showdown Friday night at Panther Stadium. The two teams enter the game with unblemished records after two weeks of play, though Conway has an advantage in strength of schedule.

Already a rivalry that both teams circle on the calendar, this year’s game could be a matchup of the best units each has fielded in the last few years. Conway coach Clint Ashcraft was hesitant to say this was his best team in a while, but was quick to make that assessment of Cabot.

“Without a doubt this is the best Cabot team we’ve seen since at least 2009,” said Ashcraft. The 2009 Panthers gave up a long touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the game that cost them a trip to the state championship. The head Wampus Cat believes this year’s Cabot team could be better than that one.

“The first thing that jumps out at you is their size,” Ashcraft said. “They’re bigger than they have been. What you notice later on is the speed they have on both sides of the ball. Their secondary is the fastest I’ve ever seen at Cabot. On offense, they’re breaking big runs and separating. This is easily the best one since ’09.”

Cabot coach Mike Malham wasn’t as hesitant to heap praise on Conway.

“They’re good,” said Malham. “Their offensive line is big and their skill players are fast. They’ve put away two pretty good opponents and nobody has slowed them down yet. We’ll find out this week if we’re any good or not, and if we can compete with the top level teams. If we can compete with Conway we can compete with anybody.”

The Wampus Cats beat Bryant 24-7 in week one, and handled Jonesboro 33-14 last week in Craighead County, though the head Cat wasn’t entirely pleased with week two’s performance.

“I didn’t think we played well at all in the second half at Jonesboro,” Ashcraft said. “Overall though, I’m pretty pleased with how we’re playing. We’ve got our toughest test so far in front of us though, so we have to keep getting better.”

In Conway, Cabot faces its third spread offense of the season, while Conway has to change gears in preparation for the Panthers’ dead-T formation.

“I think that’s one of the reasons he sticks with that offense,” Ashcraft said. “It’s an advantage nowadays. You get one week to prepare for it and you can’t really prepare for it the way they do it. You pretty much just have to play a series or two against it to really understand what you’re dealing with. They might score early, but I don’t think you can panic. You just got to relax because this is a game where you’re going to have to keep fighting and keep grinding away at it.”

Conway features a slew of talented and capable playmakers. They run, throw and catch behind an offensive line that averages 270 pounds and has performed very well so far this year.

“I’ve been really proud so far of our offensive line,” Ashcraft said. “They’ve given us plenty of time. The tight ends are playing well. I’m also pleased with how our secondary has defended against the two spread teams we’ve played so far. But this is a different approach this week.”