Saturday, November 02, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Pulaski Academy pulls away from Sylvan Hills

Leader sportswriter

The game was close up to a point before Pulaski Academy turned into its typical self and scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat Sylvan Hills 49-25 going away at Bill Blackwood Field on Friday.

The Bruins (9-0, 6-0) wrapped up its fourth-consecutive 5A Central Conference championship with the victory, but got all they wanted from the Bears (6-3, 4-2) through three quarters.

Sylvan Hills made things interesting late in the third quarter when Garrett Barham intercepted a pass from PA quarterback Will Hefley and returned it 40 yards to the Bruin 26-yard line. Quarterback Tra Doss punched it in for a touchdown six plays later form 12 yards out with 16 seconds remaining in the period to cut the lead to 28-25 following Philip Wood’s successful extra-point kick.

But that’s where the fun ended for Sylvan Hills.

Hefley then led the Bruins on three quick scoring drives, with a 30-yard pass play to Tre Bruce, a 15-yard touchdown run by Tyler Colquitt and a 3-yard pass to Will Hastings, all within a span of 4:08.

“Moral victories are for guys who aren’t looking to win conference championships,” Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow said. “We were looking to win a conference championship and get a piece of it, and it didn’t happen, but I’m proud of our kids. We’ve come a long way, and we’re still young, but we’ve still got a bunch of growing to do.

“We need to win a big game now. Playing close, it gets you a little bit more hungry, but we need to win a big game now.”

The Bears had a chance to strike first to open the third quarter with a 49-yard drive that started at midfield and stalled at the PA 1-yard line when Doss was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on fourth down.

The Bruins then drove the length of the field before SH senior defensive back Chris Daily intercepted Hefley at the 1-yard line and returned it to the Bears’ 17.

Pulaski Academy got the ball back on the following play when junior running back Marlon Clemmons was stripped of the ball for a Bruin fumble recovery at the 22-yard line. Bruce scored three plays later on a 15-yard run to give the Bruins a 28-10 lead.

Clemmons made up for it on the Bears’ next play when he scooted 52 yards down the right side to score with 4:06 to go in the third to make it 28-17.

Sylvan Hills ran the ball effectively against a rugged, stingy Bruins defense that penetrated the line of scrimmage at will. The Bears had 268 rushing yards, but it was lack of production in the air that hurt the Bears the most. Doss completed only 2 of 15 pass attempts for 21 yards to give Sylvan Hills a total of 289 offensive yards.

“I think there was some confusion at times, and some things we could have done better either way,” Withrow said of his team’s lack of passing success. “That’s my fault. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching that up. Hopefully we’ll get better at that. We’ve been almost balanced at times, and I thought we had a good plan, we just didn’t finish it.”

The Bruins on the other hand went mostly through the air, with Hefley completing 27 of 43 pass attempts for 424 yards, three touchdowns and as many interceptions. The Bruins gained 185 yards on the ground for 609 total yards. Bruce led all receivers for Pulaski Academy with 7 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears will wrap up 5A Central Conference play next week at nearby rival North Pulaski.

SPORTS STORY >> Late trickery lifts Lonoke to huge win

Leader sportswriter

Stuttgart gave Lonoke a scare at the end of Friday’s 4A-2 Conference showdown at James B. Abraham Stadium, but the Jackrabbits made enough plays late to win 20-18, and lock up the No. 2 playoff seed out of the conference.

The Jackrabbits (7-2, 5-1) were leading the Ricebirds (4-5, 3-3) 14-3 late in the fourth quarter, but Stuttgart quarterback Malik Brasfield finally found some success in the passing game as he connected with senior wideout Jackson Kennedy for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 4:39 to play.

Tyler Luster punched in the two-point try the following play to cut Lonoke’s lead to three at 14-11. The momentum was quickly shifting to Stuttgart’s side as sophomore tailback Josh Coleman was brought down for a 2-yard loss on the Jackrabbits’ first play of the ensuing drive. But the home crowd was given reason to cheer again the very next play.

Senior quarterback Kody Smith took the shotgun snap, and handed off to Coleman on what appeared to be a sweep left, but as Coleman ran left, wide receiver Blake Mack ran the opposite direction behind Coleman, and Coleman tossed the ball to Mack for a reverse.

Mack had just one man to beat after that, and the senior Arkansas State commit got by his defender and dashed 64 yards for what ended up being the game-clinching score with 3:40 to play.

“In the second half, their defense shut us down,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “They shut us down until Blake was able to hit the reverse. That was huge, but I felt like our defense for three and a half quarters did the job.”

The Ricebirds put together another solid drive on their final offensive possession. A nine-play drive that took just 1:40 off the clock ended with another touchdown pass from Brasfield to Kennedy – this one from 30 yards out. The successful PAT set the final score with 2:01 to play.

Stuttgart came too close to getting the onside kick that followed, but the Jackrabbits managed to cover it, and Coleman broke up the middle for a 21-yard gain on the first play of the game’s final drive.

Coleman picked up seven yards on the next play with another run, but was held to no gain on second down. Lonoke needed a first down to end the game, and on third and 3, Smith ran for five yards on a read-option keeper to seal the game for the Jackrabbits.

“Stuttgart opened it up and started passing it, and drove it on those last series,” Bost said. “That hurt us, but we were able to come back on offense and get the two first downs to run the clock out. Our kids did a great job.

“We knew it would be a hard-fought battle. That’s just how Stuttgart plays. They’re physical and they hit you in the mouth, and that’s what they did tonight.”

It was a valiant comeback effort by Stuttgart, who trailed 14-3 at halftime. The Ricebirds scored on the game’s first possession after a nine-play drive that ended with a 17-yard field goal by Kennedy to put the visitors up 3-0.

Lonoke went three and out on its first possession, and had to begin their second drive from their own 1-yard line thanks to a stellar Stuttgart punt. But on the first snap of the drive, Smith broke for a 49-yard run before being brought down at the 50.

The Jackrabbits steadily moved the ball from there, and were able to score on a 13-yard run by Coleman with 11:16 to play in the second quarter.

Lonoke’s final score of the first half was set up by a 71-yard run by Coleman on the first play of the drive, and three plays later, he scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard run with 4:05 to play in the second quarter. The Jackrabbits finished with 405 yards of offense, bettering the Ricebirds’ total of 349. Coleman finished with 16 carries for 135 yards and two scores, while Smith had 20 carries for 128 yards. Mack totaled 96 yards of offense as he finished with two receptions for 30 yards, and four carries for 66 yards and one touchdown.

Regardless of who wins next week’s regular-season finale at Clinton, the Jackrabbits will host a playoff game as the No. 2 seed when the playoffs start Nov. 15. Next week’s game at Clinton is set to kickoff at 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot’s future built by seniors

Leader sports editor

Volleyball in central Arkansas may be beginning to catch up to the extreme eastern and western portions of the state, where club teams and junior Olympic volleyball are prominent.

The Cabot volleyball team’s season came to an end Wednesday with a quarterfinal loss to Fort Smith Southside in the class 7A state tournament at Panther Arena. The top-ranked Confederettes won in three games by scores of 25-17, 25-16 and 25-13. But that loss followed a milestone victory for the Lady Panthers, as they got their first playoff win since 2004 by beating Bryant 3-1 in the first round. Southside went on to win its semifinal match over Fort Smith Northside by a larger margin than Cabot, and will play Bentonville at 11 a.m. today in the state championship game at Russellville.

Cabot finished the season 15-12, a record that includes three wins over two teams that are playing in their respective state championship games. The Lady Panthers beat Batesville, vying today for the class 5A state title, in their third and last regular-season matches, and split in conference play with Jonesboro, who faces Benton for the 6A championship.

That fact is not lost on Cabot coach DeAnna Campbell, who takes it as yet one more sign that her program is moving in the right direction after three years at the helm.

“We have gotten better and better,” Campbell said. “When we beat Jonesboro, we were really on a roll, and then we had some injury setbacks. But we got everyone healthy and kept improving. I think if we played tomorrow, we’d play better than we did in the last one.”

Even with the steady improvement, Cabot will be an unknown quantity next year. There were six seniors on the floor for the Lady Panthers when the last match ended, six seniors who have been the cornerstone of the building program since Campbell took over. Five are three-year lettermen, while the sixth isn’t only because she missed her junior season.

The final point of the last match was sadly poetic, as Lakin Best and Bailee Uhiren, who were two starting outside hitters as sophomores, bumped into each other after the initial pass, and let the ball drop without a return on match point. The Lady Panthers had been out of rhythm for most of game three, and Campbell knew why.

“When you’ve got six seniors on the floor, and they start to realize that it’s the end, and not just the game, but THE end of all they’ve worked to build, then they get emotional,” Campbell said. “A couple of them were already crying during the last timeout. I intentionally didn’t talk about it at all leading up to or during the tournament. Those six seniors built what we have going right now, and I knew they knew that, and I thought it would only make it worse to talk about it. For better or worse, that’s what I did. I think they played very well though.”

The Lady Panthers only have three juniors on this year’s team, which means only three seniors next year. The junior varsity team, made up entirely of sophomores, went 12-5 this year, and Campbell says the freshmen that are coming up next year are very talented.

But whatever Cabot accomplishes under Campbell in the years to come; it will all be founded on the edifice built by the seniors of 2014.

SPORTS STORY >> Mills puts end to Red Devils’ playoff hopes

Leader sports editor

Too many negative plays and too many times putting the ball on the ground cost Jacksonville a win and a chance at the postseason Friday night, as the Mills Comets got away from Jan Crow Stadium with a 21-14 victory to take over fourth place in the 5A Central.

Jacksonville could still finish in a tie for fourth place if they are able to pull off an upset of first-place Pulaski Academy next week, but that can only put them in a tie for fourth place, and since the Red Devils have lost to all three teams ahead of them in the standings, they can’t win a tiebreaker.

The Red Devils couldn’t get the passing game clicking in the first half, and kept fumbling in the running game. They only lost two of the four fumbles in the first half, but the others went for big yardage losses.

Mills, 7-2, 4-2, led 14-0 at halftime, and held the ball for 10:57 in the third quarter, but Jacksonville’s defense came through with the key play that got the home team back into the game.

The Comets were on the 13th play of their second drive of the second half, facing third and 11 at the Jacksonville 28-yard line. Quarterback Omar Avance rolled right and threw downfield, where linebacker Durrell White intercepted the ball at the 13. White broke a tackle at the point of the catch, another at the 25, got some good downfield blocking, and ran over Avance at the Comet 45 before going the rest of the way untouched for an 87-yard interception return for a touchdown. The extra point made it 14-7 with 1:40 left in the third quarter.

Jacksonville, 4-5, 3-3, then stopped Mills on downs and got the ball back on its own 39 with 11:32 left in the game. That’s when the passing game finally began to work as planned.

Quarterback Reggie Barnes missed his first pass attempt of the drive, but that was the only incompletion of the possession.

He hit Kajahn Daniels for 6 yards on third and 5. Later, Barnes needed 21 yards for a first down and got it with a pass to the Mills sideline to Robert Harris. Another pass to Daniels set up first and goal at the 8. After no gain by tailback Lamont Gause, Barnes left the field and Gause lined up at quarterback. The snap went through his hands for a 16-yard loss on Gause’s fourth fumble of the game.

Barnes came back on the field and hit Daniels for 10 yards on third down. Then on fourth and goal from the 14, Barnes’ pass intended for Harris was tipped. It sailed over and behind Harris, but right into the arms of receiver Terrell Moore for the score. The extra point tied with 8:05 left in the game.

It didn’t stay tied for long. Jacksonville elected to kick deep, and paid for it. Mills’ receiver Jaylen Clark fielded the kick at the 5-yard line and ran it back to the Jacksonville 11. On the next snap, Calen Peters took the option pitch 11 yards for the touchdown, making it 21-14 with 7:46 left in the game.

On Jacksonville’s next possession, Barnes took a huge hit while scrambling from Mills linebacker Tyler Geter, and didn’t return. He also fumbled on the play and Mills’ D’Marrio Allen covered it at the Red Devil 42.

Jacksonville stopped the drive on downs when Brandon Toombs stopped Peters for no gain on fourth and 1, but the Red Devils’ offense couldn’t get anything going the rest of the game.

Robert Knowlin played quarterback the first series without Barnes as Jacksonville tried to switch to the read option from the spread, but Mills was too fast and the Red Devils lost 8 yards before punting with three minutes to go and all three time outs remaining.

They were able to force a three-and-out possession and got the ball at their own 7-yard line with 2:33 left.

This time, junior Caleb Price took over at quarterback as Jacksonville was forced to try to throw the ball. He completed three of his first four passes on the drive, including one for 25 yards to Harris, but was sacked twice. After an illegal-procedure penalty on third and 17, his fifth pass was picked off by Jacob Cranford with 32 seconds remaining, ending Jacksonville’s chances.

The Red Devils lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions, both by Cranford.

Mills finished with 348 total yards to 231 for Jacksonville.

Barnes completed 13 of 23 passes for 138 yards, including 8 off 11 for 97 in the second half. Price went 3 for 5 for 27 yards. Gause carried 15 times for 61 yards, including a 53-yard run in the first quarter.

Jacksonville travels to Pulaski Academy for its season finale. The Bruins are 9-0 and 6-0, and beat Sylvan Hills 49-25 on Friday. Mills play at home against Helena-West Helena Central next week in a game with major playoff implications.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot options way to big win

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers had to overcome a bevy of penalties in the first half and a Jonesboro defense that was determined to clog the inside, and they did so. The Panthers went on the road Friday and beat the upset-minded Hurricane 42-14 despite a slow start.

Jonesboro hung in longer than most teams have against Cabot, especially the other 6A teams in the conference. Cabot led just 14-7 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, but halfback Dylan Thompson got loose for his second touchdown of the game, a 19-yard run with 1:32 left to send the Panthers into the break ahead by two scores.

Cabot’s first four touchdowns were all on option pitches to the halfback, as Jonesboro tried to make sure that fullback Zach Launius, who entered the game with nearly 1,200 yards rushing already this season, did not have another big night.

They almost did it, but at the price of giving up several big plays after Cabot switched to the option.

Junior fullback Preston Jones scored first for Cabot on the game’s opening drive. With the inside clogged, Cabot was still able to move the ball a few yards at a time to the Jonesboro side of the field. Jones took the counter handoff and went 41 yards for the score.

Jonesboro answered with a touchdown on its next possession, with the help of several defensive penalties against Cabot that kept the drive moving. The Panthers were called for almost everything a defense can be called for. They were flagged for pass interference, defensive holding and personal fouls. The result was a tie game halfway through the first quarter, but the Hurricane didn’t score again until after Cabot had put up 35 unanswered points.

Senior halfback Chris Henry took an option pitch early in the third quarter and ran it in for the score to make it 28-7. Jonesboro had to adjust to try to stop the option, and that’s when Launius began to find room. The senior fullback scored from 7 yards out on Cabot’s next drive, and then broke loose up the middle for a 40-yard scoring scamper early in the fourth period.

Despite Jonesboro’s defensive game plan, the Cabot running game still piled up 316 yards rushing on 36 carries. Launius led the way with 20 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson carried just four times, but for 86 yards and two scores. Jones had four carries for 47 yards and Henry carried six times for 24 yards. Kimbrell had 15 yards rushing and was 0 for 3 passing the ball.

Jonesboro finished with 243 total yards, 115 of it on 12 of 23 passing, as well as 49 rushing attempts for 128 yards.

Despite the big yardage total, Cabot had just six first downs while Jonesboro picked up 13, but four were the result of Cabot penalties.

The Panthers, 9-0, 6-0, finish the regular season next week at Searcy. The Lions are 4-5 and will be fresh off a 35-34 upset of West Memphis on Friday.

Friday, November 01, 2013

TOP STORY >> Smart911 can save lives

Leader staff writer

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams will be at the Lonoke County Courthouse at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to promote Smart911, a new service that provides vital information to emergency responders and helps save lives.

These days, many people have disconnected their landlines and use cell phones instead. So their addresses don’t pop up on 911 screens when they call for help.

The new system, paid for with a $1 million federal grant, provides the addresses of cell-phone users and alerts emergency workers to the callers’ health issues. Last year, Arkansas became the first state in the nation to make Smart911 available to all residents.

Williams calls Smart911 an excellent service that will alert paramedics to health conditions that would let them know, for example, that a patient is likely in a diabetic coma or has dementia and can’t explain what’s happening.

The only problem is, very few are signing up for it, he said. Williams compared the response to Smart911 to the response of the CodeRED weather warning system that was implemented in Cabot while he was mayor. That system gives warnings about flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes, but it is also under-utilized.

CodeRED is available only to those who provide the system with their phone numbers. Smart911 is available only to those who go online and build a profile with phone numbers, addresses and health conditions.

Williams say the Tuesday event is a re-rollout of the service. He said in a phone interview this week that he expects to be joined by County Judge Doug Erwin, Prosecutor Chuck Graham and Sheriff John Staley.

The sole purpose of the event is to bring attention to the service and get people to go online and fill out a profile, but Williams said putting all that private information online could be what is holding the new system back.

The information will only be used to provide emergency care, he said, but many may believe it could be accessed for other purposes.

To bring attention to the new system, Williams said he is talking to schools about sending information home in students’ backpacks. He also intends to ask the law enforcement class at Cabot High School to design a card about the system that police officers could give out when they make traffic stops.

When this reporter pointed out that flashing blue lights might not be conducive to communication about a new product, Williams said the officers’ approach would be the key to success. If they are friendly and are possibly willing to trade a ticket for a minor infraction for signing up with Smart911, he thinks people will sign up.

To register, visit

TOP STORY >> PCSSD believes it’s ready for cut

Leader staff writer

“The biggest issue we face is loss of desegregation funding,” Jerry Guess, superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District, told the only parent who attended a meeting Tuesday.

That funding is nearly $20 million, which could impact the district’s progress toward financial stability if it’s cut.

But Guess said, “We should be able to run the district like every other district in the state...The district is in a much better financial state.”

PCSSD was taken over by the state in 2011 for being in fiscal distress.

Since the takeover, the district’s legal fund balance has grown by about $3 million this year. It has increased from a little more than $4 million to $17.6 million since the takeover, according to the district’s annual report to the public.

That was one objective of the fiscal distress improvement plan and provides a reserve equal to slightly more than one month’s average expenditures, the report continues.

Tuesday’s meeting satisfied a legal requirement for PCSSD to make the report, which was about its financial status, accreditation standards, plans for facilities and security, elementary education, secondary education, federal programs, financial overview, school board, test scores and the desegregation plan.

The parent, Kelly Swope, was concerned about whether funding for gifted and talented programs at College Station Elementary School, Fuller Middle School and Mills High School would continue when the 1989 desegregation case is resolved.

PCSSD wants to be released from federal court oversight while the state is seeking to end its obligation under a settlement agreement to pay about $70 million in annual desegregation aid to PCSSD, the Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts. Little Rock and North Little Rock want the funding to be phased out.

A trial in the case will be held on Dec. 9. It is scheduled to last two weeks.

According to the office of Sam Jones, PCSSD’s lawyer, pretrial briefs are due Nov. 8, responses to motions are due Nov. 13, a joint report on disputed depositions and responses to trial briefs are due Nov. 20; and the pretrial conference is Nov. 22.

The Little Rock School District’s recent request to delay the trial was denied.

And Jones said the trial would start on time before Judge D. Price Marshall.

A separate but related set of hearings before Marshall, wherein PCSSD will argue that it is unitary in eight of nine areas, were scheduled to begin in late August, he continued.

At the hearings, the judge will decide whether PCSSD has significantly complied with its desegregation plan — Plan 2000 — and achieved unitary status.

Unitary status means that a district is desegregated.

Jones said the unitary status hearings for PCSSD were postponed at the request of John Walker, the Joshua Intervenors’ attorney. The intervenors represent black students.

But Marshall denied a request by the intervenors to delay the December trial.

Jones said all of the unitary status hearing dates have passed. He expects the judge to set new hearing dates in the spring or summer.

At the meeting, Guess told Swope that he couldn’t say what would happen to the gifted and talented programs when the case is finally closed.

Swope said, if the gifted and talented programs were phased out because of funding shortfalls after the district is released from federal oversight, the future for Mills University Studies would not be a bright one.

She noted that test scores at Mills would drop significantly if the students in the advanced placement program, through which they can earn college credit by doing well on national tests, had to attend the schools where they live.

“It’s going to come back at you and slap you in the face,” Swope told Guess.

She was also concerned about teacher layoffs and suggested that the district look at reducing its central office staff instead. “I’m not a fan of overhead,” Swope said after the meeting.

Also, according to PCSSD’s annual report to the public:

 The district may remain in fiscal distress and be operated by state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell, who is acting as its school board, for a total of five years. PCSSD is in its third year of fiscal distress.

 This school year, the district employed 1,310 teachers, 1,202 support staff and 120 administrators. Enrollment was just under 18,000.

 All PCSSD schools are accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education.

 Over the past two years, the district has reduced unnecessary infrastructure and spent $14 million of nonrecurring funds on facility restoration and modernization.

Parts of the old Sylvan Hills Middle School were demolished, and PCSSD entered into a long-term lease for the Jacksonville Elementary School campus on North Spring Street.

The city is leasing the property, and plans are to eventually turn the old cafeteria and at least one other building there into a community arts center.

 The district renovated restrooms, repaired roofs, upgraded heating and air systems, finished paving projects, painted interiors and exteriors and made other improvements to facilities. Most of the projects were completed at Jacksonville schools.

 PCSSD installed digital cameras and GPS radios on all of its 239 buses. Officials also improved security alarms, cameras, locks, access control and security processes at the schools. A new director of security and a second coordinator of security were hired.

 Common Core state standards have been implemented at all elementary schools in the district. Common Core is a way of teaching that goes deeper into reading, math and science.

All elementary and secondary schools have developed an Arkansas Consolidated School Improvement Plan that lists strategies each school will use to raise student achievement.

Teachers and math instructors can train in state-supported professional development.

The schools also have literacy and/or math facilitators who help teachers in their classrooms.

 Every middle school has professional training in math and literacy to prepare kids for high school.

 Every high school participates in the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science to prepare students for college and careers.

 The district is piloting alternative-learning classrooms at secondary schools.

 In PCSSD, 19 elementary schools receive federal Title 1 funds for programs that help bridge the achievement gap.

The amount is based on how many students receive free or reduced lunches at each campus.

 The district is replacing 20 to 25 buses per year.

Leader senior staff writer John Hoffheimer contributed to this report.

TOP STORY >> Vilsack ties food stamps to Farm Bill

Leader senior staff writer

If House Republicans succeed in detaching the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as food stamps, from the Farm Bill, there may not be a Farm Bill in the future, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told area farmers, ranchers, agriculture leaders and officials in Little Rock on Wednesday.

Vilsack urged immediate passage of the five-year, $500 billion farm bill, which would include programs, farm support and money for SNAP.

The Senate version of the farm bill includes SNAP, but the House version doesn’t include a penny.

Meanwhile, cuts in food stamps Friday took effect for 48 million Americans, and Arkansas lost $52 million dollars worth of food-stamp funding through September 2014. That will affect all of the 17 percent of Arkansans who receive SNAP benefits. That’s because an increase authorized in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expired on Friday.

The decrease will average about $10 a month per person, according to Amy Webb, spokesman for the state Department of Human Services.

The SNAP program has been called the largest hunger- relief program in the country.

It’s inclusion in the farm bill is strictly a numbers game, the secretary said. Very few congressmen have an agricultural constituency, while many more have an urban constituency, where there are large numbers of people who can’t afford to feed themselves and their families.


Vilsack said many Americans believe that food stamps go to people too lazy to work. In reality, “92 percent are senior citizens, disabled people, children or working poor but not earning enough to feed themselves and their families.

“The other 8 percent are required to secure work or training,” he said, although that provision has been relaxed during the economic downturn that saw hundreds of thousands of people thrown out of work.

“It would be a mistake to separate the SNAP program (from the Farm Bill),” Vilsack said. “It will be hard to pass the farm bill in the future.”

“Fifty percent of my discretionary operating budget is for fighting forest fires, the WIC program, food safety and natural disasters,” the secretary said.


“We’ve given enough and it’s time for someone else to give,” he said.

Keo fish farmer Mike Freeze, an Arkansas Farm Bureau state board member, explained it like this Friday: Arkansas: an agricultural state has four congressmen to help look after its interests, while New York City alone — with little direct interest in agriculture — has about a dozen who would not be particularly inclined to support the kind of bill the farmers here need without the SNAP being included.

Vilsack said, until they have a bill, “the producers are in limbo and can’t commit.”


The 41 members of the House/Senate conference committee have about 90 differences to resolve in what Vilsack called a food, agriculture and jobs bill.

Ark. Sen. John Boozman and First Dist. Congressman Rick Crawford are both on the joint conference committee.

Crawford voted for the committee-passed version of the bill in 2012 and 2013, which was coupled with both nutrition and farm program authorizations, according to his press secretary Jack Pandol.

“He has made clear that it was his preferred approach to do them together. However, the most important priority in his eyes is getting to a final bill that will support the needs of both producers and consumers,” Pandol said.


Vilsack said, “It is essential that this gets done and gets down now.”

Freeze and row crop farmer Dow Brantley, both of whom attended the meeting and questioned the secretary, say they think he understands the problems, but the ball is in the Congressional Conference Committee’s court.

“I think he’s on our side of the fence,” Brantley said Friday, “but his biggest job is implementation.”

Brantley said it could be a year or more before all the rules and regulations are written and farmers know what kind of help to expect and for what crop. That affects their decision on what to plant.

The United States Department of Agriculture gets the bill, then must interpret the law and train its staff before giving it to the farmers.

“It’ll take six months if it takes a day,” Brantley said. “We really need to know the score before we start.”

He said, if direct payments to farmers are cut, it might not get back into future farm bills. That’s money out of the farmers’ pockets. If the current farm bill is extended instead of a new bill, that direct money won’t be in it, he said.


Freeze said, “If we don’t have (agriculture and SNAP) coupled, we’ll never get a farm bill. Farmers don’t want it decoupled.”

Not only has the dairy industry lost 50 percent of its farms, “We’ve lost 80 percent of catfish (acreage in Arkansas) because the USDA’s inaction on catfish inspection.”

In the 2008 farm bill, inspection of catfish was transferred from the Food and Drug Administration to the Food Safety Inspection service. The effect would be to keep foreign fish, correctly or incorrectly categorized as catfish, out of the market because of the dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals often used in foreign catfish production.

That results in over supply, driving down the price for the local farmers. But Freeze said there was no definition of catfish, and the rule was never implemented.


About two years ago, there were 35,000 acres of catfish ponds in the state. This year, there are about 7,000 acres and many pond levees have been torn down. Corn and other crops were planted instead.

Vilsack told Freeze that, if he gets a new farm bill, he’ll make sure the inspection law is implemented.

Vilsack said that, in the midst of budget cutting, many in Congress looked to the Farm Bill and the SNAP program as pots of money that could be cut to aid other areas, such as defense or education.

But without a new, funded farm bill, consumers could expect to pay $8 or $9 a gallon for milk. The current, supported price is $3.42 a gallon, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TOP STORY >> Cabot focuses on parks

Leader staff writer

The Cabot parks system is expanding with new fields at the softball park and a new combination baseball and water park, as well as an addition to the community center that will at last provide the space for a fitness area and banquet hall that has been talked about since the community center was completed seven years ago.

That means a potential for more revenue as well as more expenses, areas that parks director John Crow and parks commission chairwoman Maggie Cope say could use more input from the commission.

“I think the budget needs to be studied a little deeper,” Crow said Friday about the new committee of parks commission members that met for the first time last week. “With the expansion and the new facilities, we’re going to need more oversight. And, since we have people with experience in that area, why not take advantage of it?”

The committee is made up of Ken Kincade, an accountant; John C. Thompson, a banker, and Nick Whitaker, who works in sales for Twin City Trailer in North Little Rock.

Money for expansion of the parks comes from a one-cent sales tax approved by voters in April. The tax supports a $42 million bond issue for sewer improvements, a new freeway interchange, a new library and drainage work in the Highlands subdivision.

The bond issue includes $5.7 million to expand and renovate the community center and $13.5 million for parks improvements and the combination baseball and water park.

The commission also formed a committee to look into correcting issues with collecting membership fees for the community center, which Crow said has always been a problem, according to financial records.

Thompson and Dawn Beckley, who serve on that committee, have recommended discontinuing the installment payment plan for those memberships, except for electronic debits, which are essentially guaranteed payments.

A family plan is $360 a year, and it entitles members to everything the community center has to offer. It’s more economical for families, but the center is losing money because people don’t pay their membership fees, Crow said.

The new policy will be implemented after repairs at the community center are completed in mid-December. Parts of the center have been closed since July so the roof could be replaced.

There was technically nothing wrong with the tin roof, but it had to be removed because the screws that held it in place rusted from excess moisture caused by a faulty pool dehumidification system. The repair bill is expected to reach almost $800,000.

TOP STORY >> Experts offer Halloween safety tips

Leader staff writer

Parents taking kids trick-or-treating tomorrow night should know that ghosts and goblins are not the dangers they should keep an eye out for, local first responders warn.

Jacksonville Fire Marshal Mike Williams said in an e-mail, “Over the years, we have had several incidences where trick-or-treaters were struck by cars. The lesson to take from that would be stay in well-lit places and wear reflective material on your costumes.”

Flashlights, glow sticks, reflective tape and flashing decorations will make the wearer much more noticeable in the dark, he continued.

Sgt. Keith Graham of the Cabot Police Department said, “There will be a lot of traffic. (Flashlights, reflective material, etc.) make it easier for people driving the cars to see the kids.”

April Kiser of the Jacksonville Police Department said in an e-mail that children should walk instead of run, not use alleyways or unlit streets, walk on sidewalks and driveways and cross the street at the corner or in a crosswalk.

Williams said parents should help young children choose or make safe costumes that are fireproof or treated with fire retardant.

Masks should have eyeholes large enough to allow good peripheral vision, he noted.

If a child is carrying a prop, such as a scythe, butcher knife or pitchfork, the tip should be smooth and flexible enough to not cause injury if fallen on, Williams continued. He said to make sure that costumes wouldn’t cause the kids to trip either.

Kiser suggested wearing a watch in addition to carrying a flashlight and cell phone.

Williams said, “Trick-or-treating isn’t what it used to be. In most cities, it’s not safe to let kids walk the streets by themselves. Your best bet is to make sure that an adult is going with them. If you can’t take them yourself, see if another parent or two can.”

Kiser said, “Children should always go trick-or-treating with an adult.”

Williams added that parents should know the route their kids are taking if they are going trick-or-treating without an adult.

He said, “Let them know that they are to check in with you every hour, by phone or by stopping back at home. Make sure that they know not to deviate from the planned route so that you always know where they will be.”

Kiser agreed and said no one should trick-or-treat alone. “Have at least two buddies go with you,” she advised.

Williams added that parents should search online for sex offenders in their area. The website address is search/index.php.

“Make sure that your kids stay away from these houses,” the fire marshal said.

Williams continued, “Teach your kids about not getting into strangers’ cars or talking to strangers, no matter what the person says to them. Explain to them as simply as you can that some adults are bad and want to hurt children, that they should never go into a house that they don’t know, get into a car or go anywhere with a stranger. Also, tell them what to do should this happen, to scream as loud as they can to draw attention and to run away as fast as they can to someplace safe.”

Kiser said, “Accept treats only in the doorway. Never go inside a house…Visit only houses where the lights are on.”

She added, “Be sure and say thank you for your treats.”

Williams also suggested setting a curfew for when the kids need to be back home.

The fire marshal said children should eat a filling meal before trick-or-treating to reduce their temptation to eat candy before parents have a chance to check it for tampering that could mean someone trying to poison the kids.

He also noted that holiday favorites could cause fires if people aren’t careful.

Williams said people who are using candles in jack-o-lanterns should keep them at least 3 feet from anything combustible, but LED lights that closely resemble candles are a much safer alternative.

Kiser cautioned that kids shouldn’t play near jack-o-lanterns.

Williams continued, “Kids will be kids. Explain to kids of all ages the difference between tricks and vandalism. Throwing eggs at a house may seem funny, but they need to know the other side of the coin as well, that clean up and damages can ruin Halloween for everyone. If they are caught vandalizing, make them clean up the mess they’ve made.”

Kiser and Graham said Cabot and Jacksonville police will be conducting extra patrols on Halloween. Graham added that Cabot officers would be focusing on neighborhoods.

He added, “You’ll have a few pranks, older kids doing stupid stuff, but nothing real bad. (We don’t have) kids stealing candy from the little kids or anything like that.”

TOP STORY >> Farm yield boosted by decent weather

Leader senior staff writer

A growing season that largely avoided the scorching 100 degree plus days of a year ago, along with intermittent rains has helped Lonoke County farmers toward very good yields, although prices are less than stellar this year, according to Lonoke Chief Extension Agent Jeff Welch.

“We’re in the middle of the soybean harvest and it looks like a very good crop,” he said. At least four Lonoke County producers got close to or surpassed the 100 bushel per acre mark this year.

The corn harvest is finished, and it was a very good harvest, he said.

The late rice is being harvested, but it’s just about half way done so it’s too early to say if it was a good or bad crop, Welch said. It was a difficult crop, however.

At least half of the 2,700 acres of cotton being harvested looks very good in terms of yield, Welch said, but did they contain costs? With only three days over 100 degrees this season, they didn’t have to irrigate too much.

Farmer Rick Bransford got between 3 and 3.3 bales per acre, which is just excellent, but the price has been down, especially compared to corn and soybeans.

Corn is selling for $4.42 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, down from the $6 range.

Wheat is about $7 per bushel and soybeans at $13.01, are holding up well. Lonoke farmers grew about 42,000 acres of corn this year, but with the price down, Welch said there may be a remix of the planting scheme next year, with some of those acres going back into rice, soybean and cotton production.

Cotton is pretty steady at 85 cents per pound, but needs to get above 90 cents to be really competitive.

Cotton producers in the county grew about half the 6,000 acres of cotton they grew last year, and well below the 25,000 acres the grew before the recession.

TOP STORY >> Ex-sheriff kept eye on Titans

Leader editor

Not long after former Lonoke County Sheriff J.O. Isaac arrived at Little Rock Air Force Base in the late 1950s, he joined the 308th Missile Wing, which was just getting organized.

“I was the 18th or 19th person to join,” recalled Isaac, who had a 30-year career in the military, mostly in the Air Force. He first joined the Navy in 1947, when he was 17, and joined the Air Force a decade later.

The wing took control of 18 Titan II missiles in Arkansas for the next 25 years. The Titans had nine-megaton warheads and were America’s most powerful nuclear missiles.

Isaac was born in 1930 in Naylor, Mo., but grew up on a farm in Piggott, near the Pfeiffer home where Ernest Hemingway one summer wrote parts of “A Farewell to Arms” on top of a barn.

Issac has been a propeller specialist, a flight engineer, an amphibious aircraft supervisor and an instructor. He became a missile-maintenance supervisor at three silos.

Isaac, who was inducted into the Cabot Hal of Fame in 2010, was the first Air Force JROTC instructor at Cabot High School. He taught JROTC for nine and a half years.

When a devastating tornado headed toward Cabot in 1976, he probably saved the lives of many students when he told his JROTC cadets to get the kids off the school buses and into the elementary schools for safety.

He was Lonoke County sheriff for 14 years, from 1983 to 1996, and was elected to seven two-year terms.

For a master sergeant, he had some pretty serious duties once the Titans began arriving in the mid-1960s. He had the combination to a fire-proof safe that contained the launch codes that authorized the launching of Titan II missiles from 18 silos within 60 miles of the base.

The codes were in a folder he had to initial every time he opened the safe. His responsibilities also included doing maintenance on three missile silos north of Cabot, where he’s lived since 1957.

Every day, he’d take the narrow roads to the air base and to the silos at Hwy. 16 near Searcy, Hwy. 31 at Antioch and Hwy. 5 near Heber Springs.

He helped restore a silo in the Joy Community west of Searcy after a fire in August 1965 killed 53 people, most of them civilians who were doing construction work in the silo.

The missile didn’t have a warhead while construction was going on, but by an amazing coincidence, that missile was eventually moved to a silo near Damascus, which blew up 15 years later with its warhead thrown several hundred feet in the air without exploding.

The Damascus and Searcy incidents make up a large part of Eric Schlosser’s recent book, “Command and Control,” which we reviewed here.

Isaac called us after the review appeared in The Leader and told us he had a lot more local information than what was in Schlosser’s book.

Isaac wasn’t at the Searcy silo the day the workers were killed, but he helped clean up the silo the next day after the bodies were removed.

He remembers every floor of the Searcy silo where carpenters, painters, millwrights, electricians and pipe fitters were refitting the site for a Titan II missile when a worker accidentally cut a high-pressure hydraulic line with a torch.

Isaac said the worker “was cutting a 12-inch, heavy steel I-beam off this wall. Right above there was a four-inch, 3,500-pound hydraulic line that opened a 148-ton door. That thing was four-feet thick.

“His boss distracted him by tapping him on the shoulder. As he turned, he turned his cutting instrument and cut a whole in that hydraulic line. It hit this wall, and right below, the fluid hit this commercial transformer. It blew, and it was like putting paper in a jar and setting it on fire. It sucked out all the oxygen, and it was what killed them. They were asphyxiated,” Isaac said.

The silo closure door was closed, trapping most of the workers. Rescue workers saw “black soot was hanging on the walls,” Isaac said. “The workers had asphyxiated.”

Isaac has almost total recall: He rattles off the numbers of the three missile silos — 3-2, 3-3, and 3-5 — and just about every commanding officer he worked under, from the Navy to the Strategic Air Command.

Isaac remembers it all: He can describe the eight levels inside a missile silo and the length and width of cableways or access tunnels (10 feet wide, 100 feet long) and the nine blast doors to restrict entry.

He can diagram the silos on a napkin and tell you about the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 that had his wing on high alert.

“The Cuban missile crisis was the closest time in history that this world would have been destroyed,” Isaac said. “They told us to see your family and get things squared away.”

Nuclear war seemed inevitable until the Soviets backed down and removed their missiles from Cuba.

Isaac had been assigned to Strategic Air Command in 1956, two  years before he came to the air base. SAC, under Gen. Curtis LeMay, was in charge of the nation’s 200 intercontinental missiles, which would eventually grow to several thousand.

Most of the 18 missiles that were installed in the next decade around north-central Arkansas were in Rep. Wilbur Mills’ congressional district because he was the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, which meant he controlled the federal budget, and he wanted them close to home. The Titans also carried the Gemini astronauts into space.

When the Air Force sent Isaac down to Texas for training in the late 1950s, he was the only enlisted man in the bunch. There was supposedly a senior airman in the group, but he was no ordinary airman, Isaac found out later back at the base.

“I always thought he was a sharp guy,” the former sheriff recalled. “His name was Anderson. I thought he was a bit old to be a senior airman.  We had the inspector general come in, and we passed the inspection. It was 11 o’clock at night. Anderson came up to me and shook my hand and said, ‘I’m leaving. I’m a major in the Army.’”

Even that may not have been the whole truth: “He was a CIA agent,” Isaac said.

EDITORIAL >> Close call for community

At a time when violence in schools is becoming more common across the country, we are reminded of how close our community came to tragedy when a man hijacked a Jacksonville school bus on Oct. 17 and drove 11 children and the bus driver to Cabot while threatening them with a knife.

Thanks to the composure of Shelia Hart, a bus driver for 22 years, no one was injured. She’d received training on how to respond to just such an incident only about a week before it happened.

Hart calmly pleaded with 22-year-old Nicholas John Miller, the alleged hijacker, not to hurt anyone. “I kept telling him to be careful. I asked him, couldn’t me and the babies get off. Let’s just take them to school. I told him, you could have this bus just let us off,” she told The Leader last week after being honored for her heroics.

She credits her motherly instincts for helping to end the standoff peacefully. “I had to stay strong for them. That’s what we’re supposed to do, protect them,” she said.

Toward the end of the kidnapping, which lasted about half an hour, the hijacker was even using Hart’s cell phone to call his parents to tell them that he expected to go to prison and mentioned using meth that day.

Not assuming that the hijacking was an isolated incident, Hart says she’ll remain vigilant. “I’ll be scanning around, making sure there’s nobody there,” she said.

Not all school officials who try to protect their students are as lucky.

In Nevada last week, a 12-year-old boy armed with a semi-automatic 9-mm pistol shot and killed math teacher Michael Landsberry, who was a Marine Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Then the shooter committed suicide.

Landsberry died after stepping in front of the shooter to prevent more students from being shot. Two others were injured in the gunfire.

Last week in Massachusetts, another math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, was allegedly murdered with a box cutter by a 14-year-old student.

Shelia Hart spared us from that kind of violence, and she was showered with hugs from grateful parents and many presents, including a $1,000 check from an anonymous donor.

 We thank Ms. Hart and the Pulaski County Special School District for preparing their staff for the worst and also thank those who took the time to honor her for heroism.

We salute her and the thousands of teachers, bus drivers and support staff who protect our children while they are away from home.

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville faces another crucial game

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils pulled their record to even and their conference mark above .500 for the first time this season with last week’s 42-21 victory over Little Rock Christian Academy. Jacksonville (4-4, 3-2) still finds itself tied for fourth in the 5A Central and in a battle for a playoff spot. The Red Devils host the team they’re tied with at 7 p.m. this Friday night when Mills University Studies pays a visit to Jan Crow Stadium.

The Comets (6-2, 3-2) and Red Devils have beaten the same three teams and both have a close loss to Sylvan Hills on their ledgers. Jacksonville lost at West Helena to open conference play while Mills lost last week to Pulaski Academy.

While Mills’ overall record is better, Jacksonville played a much tougher nonconference schedule. A quick comparison of conference games against common opponents indicates an even matchup this Friday.

Jacksonville beat North Pulaski by one more point than did Mills, and both teams beat LRCA by the exact same score. McClellan gave Mills a bit of trouble in the first half of their 28-14 final, while Jacksonville controlled its 31-6 game with the Lions from beginning to end.

Nothing has changed about Jacksonville’s approach to this week’s game. The opponent doesn’t matter as much to coach Rick Russell as his team playing as well as it can.

“Ever since the Sylvan Hills game, it’s been a series of one-game seasons,” Russell said. “We’ve really stressed that the time is now. We’re still in that same situation. The kids have responded well. Hopefully we can do it again.”

Russell’s squad played its best game of the year last week, rolling up all 42 of its points in the first half. The Warriors scored midway through the third quarter and that set the final margin. The defense did its job the rest of the way while the offense went into clock-killing mode.

“We had a game plan to keep it on the ground and run that clock,” Russell said. “They were putting more in the box and that made it tougher, but we stuck with our strategy. The defense played tremendous in the second half.”

Tailback Lamont Gause had his best game of the year, rushing for 236 yards and three touchdowns. He was the beneficiary of excellent blocking on the lines and outside.

“He broke some tackles and made some people miss, but he had big holes open for him by the line, and the receivers did a great job on the outsides,” Russell said. “The receivers’ blocking has improved so much. We’re very proud of them all.”

Mills will give Jacksonville a look like nothing its seen since before conference play began. Russell said the Comets are more similar to Maumelle in scheme than other teams its played. JHS’s last five opponents have run the spread.

“They’re going to try to open holes for that fullback,” Russell said. “They’re going to run that option and we’re going to have to play assignment football. We have to stay disciplined. I’d say Mills is just as athletic as Helena and quite a bit bigger. So we have to do our jobs and do them well.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot teams take second in Central

Leader sportswriter

The 2013 cross-country season has been a year filled with new personal bests for Cabot’s Micah Huckabee, and the 7A-Central Conference meet was no exception as the Lady Panther junior runner bested the field of 69 competitors with a time of 18:55.03 at Rolling Hills Country Club on Monday.

The smooth turf of the golf course and long straightaways, combined with the brisk, cool temperature, aided Huckabee in her quest to clock under 19 minutes. Her quick start and flawless second mile put an immediate gap between she and second-place finisher Alex Ritchey of Mount St. Mary’s, who clocked in at 19:27.07.

The Belles took the overall team championship with 22 points, while their Catholic Rockets counterpart was tops in the boys division with a dominating 17 points. Mount St. Mary’s claimed six of the Top-10 finishing positions, including second through fourth. Samantha Nickell gave Cabot another Top-10 result with a ninth-place time of 20:54.22.

The Lady Panthers were second overall with 66 points, followed by Conway, Fort Smith Southside, North Little Rock and Little Rock Central.

The Panther boys team did not have a top-10 finisher, but had enough runners finish in the top half of the field to also take a runner-up team finish with 74 points. Conway took third, followed by Fort Smith Northside, North Little Rock, Fort Smith Southside and Little Rock Central.

Huckabee completed the first mile in 5:44 to create separation from Ritchey, and turned it up in the second leg, clocking in at 11:58 after two miles. That was all Huckabee needed to hit the final leg and finish the course under 19 minutes. Huckabee’s previous personal best was 19:26.

“My goal for this season was to break 19,” Huckabee said. “I really felt like this would be the race to do that. I knew I couldn’t give up this race, so knowing (Ritchey) was right behind me really helped me to keep going.”

Nickell finished less than a second behind eighth-place  Lauren Campbell of Conway, and while it wasn’t Nickell’s best time all year, it was still over 20 seconds to the good for solidifying a Top-10, earning her an All-Conference medal.

“A lot of the kids today ran their best time all year,” Cabot coach Leon White said. “So even though we didn’t win the meet, we still had a good meet. We were runner-up in both divisions, but we’re rebuilding. We know next year, we’ve got a lot of good young runners coming up, most of the girls we have this year we’ll keep, and so it’s going to be a real strong team next year.”

Other notable finishes for Cabot included Rachel Murtishaw in 18th with a 21:54.82 time and teammate Ashley Gore a spot behind her in 19th with a time of 22:07.67.

There were no surprises on the boys’ side as Catholic’s Brendan Taylor scorched the circuit in 15:23.23.

That was more than a minute faster than second-place finisher and teammate Kieran Taylor, who finished in 16:28.25. Rocket runners claimed the first four finishing spots, followed by Conway’s Toler Freyaldenhoven in fifth.

Cabot’s Parker Dey held a top-five spot early in the race before falling back in the final half. Teammate Nick Davis overtook him during that time for an 11th-place finish of 17:52.61. Dey ended up 13th with a time of 18:02.59.

Kris White took 15th place for Cabot with an 18:04.64 time while Caleb Schulte finished 17th with a time of 18:17.13. Adam Stivers rounded out the Panthers’ top-20 performances with an 18th-place time of 18:19.51.

“You have to understand, the Catholic team is ranked third in the state,” White said. “They have about 10 or 12 guys that are as good or better than our best people.

“Parker Dey is our best one, and he went out a little fast and kind of hurt himself there. He didn’t run his best race today, but we’ve talked about it, and I think he will be ready at the state meet.

“You can get caught up with those faster runners and go out too fast and not run your race.”

Catholic had a scary moment at the finish when seventh-place runner Jake Allison collapsed immediately upon crossing the finish line due to fatigue. Allison was unconscious for several minutes, but was awake by the time paramedics arrived to take him for observation, and was able to give the crowd a thumbs up upon being loaded into the ambulance.

Huckabee will lead a contingent of nine Lady Panther runners at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs for the 7A state track meet on Nov. 9.

With another year of running high-school cross country still to go for Huckabee and most of her teammates, and a talented group of incoming sophomores expected to join in 2014, her strong junior campaign may be a sign of even better things to come in the future.

“We hope,” White said. “We’re going to make sure her training stays on target, and make sure she doesn’t get lazy or anything, which I don’t think she would. She wants to get some scholarships. The big thing is that she’ll be a great leader for those young girls.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears win opener

Leader sportswriter

Sylvan Hills rebounded from a slow start to beat Magnolia 3-1 in Tuesday’s first round of the class 5A state volleyball tournament at Alma. The win is the first volleyball playoff victory for the Lady Bears in school history.

“Some parents came up to me late this season and said they could tell we’d really made some strides,” said Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway. “I said we haven’t really because we still haven’t beaten the big two in our conference. But they pointed out that we did take a game from each of them. And we’ve beaten everyone else. So now I think I agree. We are making strides and we’re moving this program in the right direction.”

The Lady Panthers, the No. 2 seed out of the South, won the first game 25-19, but the Lady Bears, the No. 3 seed from the Central, won the next three by scores of 25-19, 25-16 and 25-17.

“The majority of the girls went to the state tournament last year,” Treadway said. “This is a big game, and you really don’t know how to approach it. You don’t want to put so much pressure on them that they’re nervous.

“Just the fact that they walk into Alma, which has a fantastic gym, they were nervous. After the first game, we got on a nice little roll and kind of took control.”

Even though the Lady Bears lost the first game, junior Karley Walton picked up a momentum-changing block against Magnolia’s top hitter, which Treadway said set the tone for the rest of the match.

“She stuffed it right back in her face,” Treadway said. “And I really feel like even though we lost the first game, that set the tone because after that, she (Magnolia’s top hitter) probably didn’t get but three or four decent hits.”

On the very next play, Walton picked up a kill that furthered the momentum to Sylvan Hills’ side of the court.

After Walton’s kill, juniors Abi Cantrell and Jamia Willis helped the Lady Bears take over the match by making solid passes to hitters Brooke Rainey, Jordie Flippo and Walton the rest of the way.

“Our setters were able to get the ball to our hitters,” Treadway said. “It was just a good team effort. Everybody pulled together after that.”

The win advances the Lady Bears to the quarterfinal round where they’ll play Paragould, the top seed from the East, in a 4 p.m. match today at Alma High School. The Lady Rams beat the tournament host 3-1 Tuesday by scores of 25-16, 25-23, 23-25 and 25-17.

Today’s match will be another tough test for the Lady Bears, but Treadway is pleased with the way his team is playing right now.

In Sylvan Hills’ last four matches, the Lady Bears have won 12 of their 15 games played, which Treadway believes is enough to show that his team is peaking at the right time.

“I’m real pleased,” Treadway said. “This team, we kind of started out up and down. We were playing well at times; then sometimes we didn’t play so well. But about two weeks ago we played North Pulaski, and we beat them in three (games). We beat Jacksonville in three (games).

“We beat St. Joseph out of Conway, which is the No. 1 seed in their bracket (class 3A), we beat them 3-2, and then we won today. I really feel like we’re playing well. You want to peak at the state tournament. You want your last game to be your best game, win or lose, and I think that we’re playing really well now.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot overpowers BHS

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team got its first playoff win since 2004 on Tuesday when it beat Bryant 3-1 in the first round of the class 7A state playoffs at Panther Arena in Cabot. It’s the first playoff win under third-year coach DeAnna Campbell, who has started many of this year’s seniors since they were sophomores.

“We’ve been waiting for this day,” Campbell said of her squad. “We were robbed of this opportunity last year. Fate robbed us. So we’ve been waiting for this.”

A severe car accident injured four players just before the state tournament last year, including leading hitter Lakin Best.

Best entered Tuesday’s match with a mission. Fellow senior Taylor Bitely led the Lady Panthers in kills, but Best was hammering the ball in the early going, forcing Bryant to adjust.

“Lakin was just ridiculous, how hard she was hitting the ball,” Campbell said. “We’ve been working with her all year trying to teach her to hold and snap. This week she got it and she was amazed at how much more she has.”

When Bryant, 12-18, adjusted to Best, Bitely took up the slack and put down a few of her own big kills. All the hitters got good sets. Bailee Uhiren led the team in assists, but sophomore Katelyn Joyner filled the role well also.

“We knew she might have to be second setter with the way Bryant plays, and she used to be a setter,” Campbell said of Joyner. “We worked almost exclusively on offense this week and I think you could tell. We put in about five new plays and we were running them. I’m very proud of this performance.”

Bryant got the first rally when it scored five-straight points to take a 7-2 lead, but it was short-lived momentum and was never really regained.

Cabot, 15-11, started its comeback when Best took serve and scored three straight, including two aces. She also got five huge kills, including one off the head of Bryant libero Whitney Brown.

Game one was marred by several net violations by both teams, but Cabot overcame theirs with better passing and more powerful kills than the young Lady Hornets.

The Lady Hornets did regain the momentum early in game two and never relinquished it. Junior Abbie Staton took serve and confounded the Lady Panthers for five points that broke the game open from a 2-2 tie to a 7-2 Bryant lead. Cabot was never able to pull within three from that point.

After getting to within three, Bryant junior Mercedes Dillard reeled off three points in a row. Cabot’s Kaitlyn Pitman sparked another Panther rally with a big kill and two aces on serve, but Bryant was up to every Cabot challenge.

After again pulling to within three points, sophomore Savannah Shelton hit three straight, including the game-winner to end the set at 25-20.

Cabot reclaimed the momentum at the outset of game three.

Uhiren reeled off six-straight points on serve, including two aces. The first two points were kills by Best off assists by Pitman. After the first ace, Pitman to Best got another point and Uhiren got her second ace to the back right corner.

Bryant finally broke serve, but Best continued to dominate at the net and Cabot continued to place its serves near perfectly.

Pitman and Haylee Callison added aces to their ledger as the Lady Panthers built a quick 10-4 lead. Bryant broke, but Best got another kill off the face of a Bryant back-row player, followed by one by Bitely that made it 12-5 and forced Lady Hornet coach Beth Solomon to call a timeout.

The break didn’t help as Cabot continued to pull away. The Lady Panthers’ biggest lead came on a Bitely ace that made it 21-10, but Bryant wasn’t ready to give in. After breaking serve to make it 21-11, Dillard served five-straight points to make it 21-16, forcing Campbell to call timeout. Sophomore Abbie Anderson got her sixth kill after the break to make it 21-17 before Cabot finally broke Dillard’s serve. Cabot pushed it to 24-18 when Best, who’d had six kills early in the match, finished the game off with a left-to-right, cross-court kill after a nice set by Joyner.

Cabot got started first in game two as Bryant struggled hitting down on the ball. With Best serving, Bryant sent three kill attempts long and a fourth into the net, giving Cabot an 8-4 lead and forcing another Hornet timeout. Cabot scored twice more after the timeout before Bryant finally took serve trailing 10-5.

Cabot’s lead grew to as much as 16-8 before Brittany Sahlmann took serve and reeled off two aces and four-straight points. Cabot called its second timeout of the game and Sahlmann hit her serve into the net after the break.

Cabot then scored two quick points on Pittman’s serve and Bryant asked for a minute to regroup.

The timeout didn’t seem to help matters as a miss-hit by Bitely on a pass attempt cleared the net and bounced untouched on Bryant’s side. On Pitman’s next serve, another unforced error gave Cabot a 20-12 lead. After a couple of back-and-forth plays, Bitely ended it with two big kills on Best’s serve to give Cabot the 25-15 victory.

Bitely finished with 19 kills while Best had 14. Uhiren was credited with 11 assists while Joyner had seven. Best had 16 points on serve while Uhiren had 12, including four aces.

Cabot faces West No. 1 seed Fort Smith Southside at 4 p.m. today at Panther Arena.

Monday, October 28, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears get sweep at JHS

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team had the No. 3 seed in the class 5A state tournament already locked up when it played at Jacksonville on Tuesday in the 5A-Central Conference finale. The Lady Red Devils didn’t qualify for the playoffs, but they gave the Lady Bears all it could handle for the first game and a half. But in the end, the more powerful, taller and more athletic visitors slowly pulled away, winning in three games by scores of 25-23, 25-16 and 25-9.

Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway applauded Jack-sonville’s effort in the early going, but thought his team’s comeback win in game one was the difference in its ability to pull away in game two and dominate game three.

“Jacksonville came out and gave us a good shot in game one,” said Treadway. “Their back row players especially seem to have improved quite a bit. I think we could have been a little bit more focused. We had some miss-hits that helped them a little, but they were doing a much better job of digging out our hitters. Once we came back and won it, I think that maybe broke their spirits a little bit.”

Sylvan Hills (15-13, 10-4) took serve to start the match and junior setter Alisa Staton served up five-straight points, including two aces, before Jacksonville broke.

Lady Devil junior Bailea Mitchell two-upped Staton, serving seven in a row for an 8-5 Jacksonville lead.

The two teams played back-and-forth until Sylvan Hills’ junior libero Abi Cantrell served up six points with three aces to push a 17-16 lead to 23-16. Jacksonville (5-12, 4-10) still had a rally left.

Junior Taylor Hayden served up six-straight points with Mitchell, Ashli Evans and Terionna Stewart each getting kills during the rally. Sylvan Hills finally broke serve, but Jacksonville answered right back.

Serving down 24-23, Stewart was called for a net violation while going for a block for an anti-climactic ending to the exciting opening game.

Game two was close most of the way as well. Sylvan Hills junior Brooke Rainey took serve with her team leading 17-15 and served six in a row with two aces. Jacksonville broke serve after a timeout, but didn’t score again.

Game three was all Sylvan Hills. Rainey started the rout with seven-straight points to open play. Cantrell and sophomore Shelby Simpkins also had long service games as the Lady Devils committed several unforced errors.

Sylvan Hills got another good performance by each of its top two hitters in Rainey and Jordie Flippo, but Treadway singled out Cantrell and Staton for their performances.

“Everybody notices when those hitters go up and get something big,” Treadway said. “I really feel like Alisa and Abi played great tonight. Abi’s passing has gotten better and better. She’s really made a big difference. And our setters, Alisa especially but Shelby played well too, were making good sets even when there wasn’t much of a pass. I was really pleased tonight.”

Rainey led all players in points on serve and kills, with 13 and nine respectively. Cantrell had 12 points, five digs and two assists. Rainey and Cantrell each had four aces.

Staton finished with seven points and 10 assists while Simpkins had seven of each.

Mitchell led Jacksonville with nine points and four kills. Junior libero Jessica Brown had 10 digs while Palmer had five. Stewart gave Sylvan Hills major trouble when she got her serve over the net. She finished with four points – all four were aces.

Sylvan Hills closed the regular season with a win over Conway St. Joseph’s on Thursday, and will face Magnolia, the No. 2 seed from the 5A South, in the first round of the state tournament at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Alma.

SPORTS STORY >> Huge half does it for Red Devils

Leader sportswriter

Thanks to a monster first half by the Jacksonville offense, the Red Devils’ playoff hopes are still alive as they hammered Little Rock Christian 42-21 in Little Rock on Friday in what was a crucial 5A Central Conference matchup.

Jacksonville scored all 42 of its points in the first two quarters of play, and totaled an eye-popping 452 yards of offense in that time, led by running back Lamont Gause’s 236 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries.

At halftime, the Red Devils led by a commanding 42-14 margin.

“They were ready to play,” said Jacksonville coach Rick Russell. “It’s a one-game season. Every game’s a playoff game for us. Now we’re 3-2 in conference. Mills is the game. That hopefully gets us in the playoffs, but it’s a one-game season from here on out for us.

“We explained that to the kids and they came mentally prepared, took care of business in the first half, and executed enough in the second half to get that clock down to zero.”

Part of the reason Jacksonville was held scoreless in the second half was due to the Warriors’ vast improvement at stopping Gause’s big-play ability, limiting him to just 12 yards on seven carries in quarters three and four. Still, the damage had been done, and Russell was very pleased with the junior back’s effort.

“He did a great job,” Russell said. “I don’t know how many yards he had, but he made the right decisions on his holes. He ran extremely hard and accelerated. He’s got a burst that’s hard to explain. He’s a big part of our football team. When he’s on, he’s pretty good.”

Gause finished the night with 22 carries for 248 yards and the three touchdowns. His first carry was the first play of the Red Devils’ first drive, and he took the handoff from quarterback Reggie Barnes and dashed 82 yards for the game’s first score. The extra point by kicker John Herriman made it 7-0 Jacksonville.

The Red Devil defense forced a three and out on the Warriors’ following possession, and with 5:36 to play in the first quarter, senior running back Damon Thomas capped a seven-play drive with a 33-yard touchdown run, and Herriman’s extra point made it 14-0 Red Devils.

Jacksonville (4-4, 3-2) scored on its next possession, on another seven-play drive that ended with Gause scoring on a 1-yard run. The successful PAT put Little Rock Christian (3-5, 1-4) in a 21-0 hole at the end of the first quarter.

The Warriors were finally able to put together a solid offensive drive at the start of the second quarter as it moved the ball deep into Jacksonville territory.

But a fumble by Little Rock Christian running back Hunter MacFarlane after a reception was picked up by the Red Devils’ Titus O’Neal, and O’Neal ran all the way down to the Warrior 18-yard line before being dragged down.

Two plays later, Thomas broke for a 12-yard touchdown run, and the PAT put Jacksonville up 28-0 with 9:44 to play in the second quarter.

Little Rock Christian was held to another three and out on the ensuing drive, and Thomas capped another scoring drive for Jacksonville with a 38-yard run. After Herriman’s PAT, Jacksonville led 35-0 with 5:17 to play in the half.

The Jacksonville defense finally gave up a score to the home team on the following drive. After completing an 11-yard pass to receiver Joe Hampton on the fourth play of the drive, Warriors quarterback Houston Angel went back to Hampton on the very next play, and Hampton broke free down the sideline for a 51-yard score with 3:47 left in the half.

After the successful PAT, Little Rock Christian went for an onside kick attempt as it trailed 35-7, but it failed, and four-plays later, Gause scored the final touchdown for the Red Devils on a 30-yard run with 3:17 to go in the second quarter.

Little Rock Christian’s offense found a way to answer before the half as Angel connected with Hampton again on another touchdown pass, this one from 13-yards out with 55 seconds remaining before the break. After the PAT, Jacksonville went into halftime leading 42-14.

The game’s one and only score in the second half came on Little Rock Christian’s first possession of the third quarter. The Warriors put together a 19-play, 93-yard drive that ended with Angel finding Hampton again in the end zone, this time on a 5-yard slant route with 3:28 to go in the quarter. The PAT set the final score.

Jacksonville could only manage 57 yards of offense in the second half, but that still put it over 500 yards for the game – finishing with 509, bettering the Warriors’ total of 372.

Gause was the star for Jacksonville’s offense, but Thomas had a solid showing as well as he finished with 10 carries for 86 yards and three touchdowns. Barnes did a good job of taking care of the ball as he finished the night with a 50 percent completion percentage, and a total of 133 yards passing with no turnovers.

Angel was 33 for 45 passing for 357 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Hampton had eight catches for 113 yards and three scores.

Jacksonville will continue to fight for a spot in the class 5A playoffs next week against Mills University Studies at Jan Crow Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Senior night a success for Cabot ladies

Leader sportswriter

Tuesday night was senior night for the Lady Panther volleyball team, and Cabot finished its regular-season schedule on a high note by beating a tough class 5A Batesville team at home by scores of 26-24, 25-13, 20-25 and 25-23.

Cabot (14-11, 7-7) was able to pull off the double-digit win in game two, but the other three games were dogfights to the very end, as the Lady Pioneers gave the host Lady Panthers all they could handle. Both teams have locked up playoff berths, and will compete in next week’s state tournament in each of their own respective classifications.

“We scheduled them as our last game before conference and our last game after because it’s a very strong game to use to get ready for our level of competition (in state), because Batesville would be competitive in our conference, too,” said Lady Panthers coach DeAnna Campbell.

“They’re a good team. They match up really well with us, and we can get each other ready for the level of competition we want to play at.”

The Lady Panthers beat the Lady Pioneers on the road by the same 3-1 margin at the beginning of the season, but Campbell said Batesville has gotten a lot better since then. The Lady Pioneers led by as much as 9-3 at the start of game one Tuesday.

Cabot battled back and took its first lead of the match at 11-10 on a well-placed ball tip by senior Taylor Bitely that skimmed over two Lady Pioneer defenders at the middle of the net and fell for the go-ahead point. Batesville, however, retook the lead and pushed it to 21-17 until senior Bailee Uhiren picked up a kill at the corner of the net to cut the deficit to three.

Batesville led 24-23 with serving rights late, but Lady Pioneer freshman Hannah Qualls, who picked up the go-ahead kill on the previous volley, served the next ball into the net to tie the score at 24-24.

That put senior Kate Pitman at the serving line for Cabot, and Pitman’s first serve was an ace. She then served the game’s final point to set the final score of game one. Much like the first game, Batesville got off to another good start in game two as it jumped out to an early 4-1 lead.

But, like the first game, Cabot battled back and retook the lead with senior Lakin Best at the serving line. Best’s go-ahead point from serve came on an ace that put the home team up 6-5, and the Lady Panthers steadily built on their lead from there.

Best put Cabot up 19-10 on the most ferocious kill of the match. After striking the ball from the corner, the ball bounced vigorously off of a Batesville defender, and bounced several rows up into the visitors’ side bleachers.

Later on, Uhiren put the Lady Panthers ahead by double digits on another ferocious kill that knocked Qualls down in the backcourt. Uhiren later picked up the game-winning kill from the corner, with the assist by Best.

Batesville jumped out to another early lead in game three, but this time wouldn’t allow another Cabot comeback.

The Lady Pioneers led by as much as 21-11 until the Lady Panthers went on a 7-1 run to cut the deficit to four.

The Lady Pioneers, however, scored the next two points to set up the game point, leading 24-18. Pitman scored the next two points for Cabot from the serving line before Batesville junior Sarah Hayes, who led her team with 11 kills, spiked the game-winning point to force a fourth game.

The fourth and final game was the most fiercely competitive of the four. Cabot avoided another slow start and led 5-3 early, but Batesville battled back and led by as much as 14-8 until Uhiren stopped the Lady Pioneers’ run with a kill.

Uhiren went to the serving line after her kill and served nine-straight points, three of which were aces, to give the Lady Panthers an 18-14 lead. Batesville though, responded with five-straight points to take a 19-18 lead.

The Lady Pioneers didn’t relinquish the lead until Best picked up another kill from the corner to put Cabot on top 22-21. Batesville tied the score at 23 apiece, and had serving rights, but a side out by Hayes gave the rights back to Cabot, and junior Katelyn Joyner served the final point of the match to give the Lady Panthers the hard-fought win.

“This group has always, since the first day I saw them, been fighters,” Campbell said. “This group just doesn’t quit. They don’t know how. Never giving up is a habit (for them), pushing and fighting is a habit, and these kids have a natural fighter instinct in them. These kids have always been winners because they don’t quit.”

Since Cabot is hosting the class 7A state tournament, which begins this coming Tuesday, the win against Batesville wasn’t the final time the six Lady Panther seniors will play on their own floor, but all six took time after the regular-season finale to embrace fellow teammates, coaches, parents and each other, and enjoy the moment of the senior night post-game ceremony.

“Some of these girls I’ve been with since seventh grade, and some I’ve been with since 10th grade,” Best said. “And every single one of them I love, and it’s just awesome to share this moment with them because I love to win with them. I love being able to help my team get better, and I want to go as far as I can with them.”

“This year I feel like we’ve grown more and become more like sisters than teammates,” Uhiren said. “I feel like I’ve made sisters for life. This year, I feel like we really connected and won for each other and not just for the record. In 10th grade I was very shy and timid, and felt like the baby on the court. But this year we’re the leaders, and I feel like we can accomplish anything.”

Best led all players with 16 kills against Batesville. She also had 13 assists and seven digs. Bitely finished with 11 kills. Uhiren had six kills, and a match-high 17 assists.

Pitman finished with a match-high five aces, and shared the same sentiment as her fellow senior teammates after the match.

“I love each and every one of my girls,” Pitman said. “They all bring something different to the table. All of our personalities click, and we always have fun on the court.”

Like Best, senior libero Becca Moffett finished with seven digs. Moffett rejoined the team this season after taking her junior year off, and was glad to be back with the team she referred to as family, not just teammates.

“I’ve spent so many years with these girls and I’ve learned them so well,” Moffett said, “and it’s more like a family instead of a team.”

Raven Gilbert was the only Lady Panther senior that didn’t play Tuesday. She was held out because of a concussion, and is questionable for the state tournament.

Cabot, the No. 5 Central seed, will play its first-round game of the class 7A state tournament this coming Tuesday against Bryant at 4 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers blow by Devils in big rout

Leader sports editor

West Memphis was the unquestionable underdog, but Cabot was not a certain lock to win. Whatever chance the Blue Devils thought they had when they arrived at Panther Stadium Friday night dissipated quickly.

The end result was a 49-7 blowout as the Panthers dominated every facet of the game. The Blue Devils hit a few big pass plays for their one touchdown in the second half, but couldn’t sustain any drives as the Panther defense shut down the Blue Devil running game.

“We pretty much controlled both lines of scrimmage and did what we had to do,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “We had a busted coverage or two on defense and we did that last week too. We’ve got to fix that. But I was worried about them holding onto to that football. That No. 32 is tough and they got some good looking athletes. But we didn’t give them much in the running game and I was pleased to see that.”

West Memphis (2-6, 2-3) got the ball first and went three and out. Cabot then scored, and continued to do so. The Panthers scored touchdowns on five of their six first-half drives while the defense stifled the Blue Devils at every turn.

West Memphis appeared to have a good handle on Cabot’s main weapon, fullback Zach Launius. He had just 9 total yards on his first four carries, so Cabot switched gears and the Blue Devils were caught off guard.

On second and 19 after a penalty and a dropped pass, the inside counter handoff to halfback Chris Henry left the 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior all alone on the right hash mark and he out-raced the defense to the end zone for a 52-yard score with 8:33 left in the first quarter.

The two teams went three and out on their next possessions before West Memphis finally got a first down. Just one though, as that drive stopped when nose guard Tristan Bulice tackled tailback Kam Pittman for a 5-yard loss on third and 10 from the Devil 19.

Cabot (8-0, 5-0) took over on the West Memphis 32 and needed just three plays to score again. All three were the fullback up the middle, with Launius taking it 26 yards on the third play for a 14-0 lead with 1:46 left in the opening quarter.

Another three-and-out series was forced when Bulice made another tackle-for-loss on third and long.

Cabot started at the WMHS 40 and scored in five plays, with Launius scampering 27 yards up the middle for the touchdown. Trevor Reed’s third extra point made it 21-0 with 8:59 left in the first half.

The Blue Devils finally put together a nice drive, gaining three first downs and driving to the Cabot 32. There, facing fourth and 2, they went for it all, but Jordan Burke knocked the pass down inside the 10 to give the Cabot offense possession.

Cabot survived its second fumble on the second play. Two plays later, Launius again took the handoff up the middle and ran untouched between the hash marks for 57 yards and his third touchdown of the game.

West Memphis hit a big pass on the next drive and got to the Cabot 9-yard line, but went backwards from there. On second and 5, the Blue Devils jumped off sides. After an incomplete pass, a holding penalty pushed it back to the 24.

Fullback Jarvis Cooper picked up 18 yards on third and 20. But on fourth and 2, Burke came up big again, this time in run defense. The sweep pitch went to Cooper, but Burke hit him for a 2-yard loss to give the Panthers the ball with 1:06 remaining.

Launius almost broke another one on first down, but was caught after a 24-yard gain.

After two incomplete passes, including Jake Ferguson’s third drop, halfback Preston Jones took the option pitch 52 yards to the West Memphis 15. Launius did the rest, going 8 and 7 yards for his fourth touchdown with 16 seconds left in the half and a 35-0 lead.

Cabot went with a backup unit in the offensive backfield to start the second half and rotated backup linemen in and out with starters. The starting defensive secondary played the whole game with backup defensive linemen.

The Panthers got the ball first and scored on a seven-play, 65-yard drive. Fullback Jack Whisker ran five times for 59 of those yards, including a 35-yard run and a 5-yarder for the touchdown with 7:29 left in the third quarter. Reed’s extra point made it 42-0.

West Memphis finally got on the board with back-to-back long passes. Quarterback Parker Grigsby hit receiver Demarcus Rivers for a 46-yard gain to the 34-yard line. On the very next play, Grigsby found Harrison Cole on a deep crossing pattern for the score. The PAT made it 42-7 with 5:18 left in the third.

Cabot punted for only the second time on its next drive, and then forced a punt by West Memphis. A complete backup unit, including the third string backfield, took over at the Blue Devil 25 after Ferguson made a 30-yard punt return.

Senior Dylan French, junior Jason Shrunk and sophomores Jess Reed and Kolton Eads each had carries, with Eads getting the final 3 yards and the score with 4:25 left in the game.

Cabot finished with 401 total yards with 400 of it on the ground. Launius led the way with 13 carries for 168 yards and four touchdowns – all in the first half.

Whisker had nine carries for 78 yards and a score. Jones carried three times for 60 yards and Henry had three carries for 51 and a touchdown.

West Memphis totaled 228 yards. Grigsby completed seven of 14 pass attempts for 160 yards. Cooper carried 18 times for 68 yards and caught two passes for 32.

The Panthers start a two-game road stint to close the season at Jonesboro next week.

The Hurricane routed Searcy, Cabot’s final regular-season opponent in two weeks, 40-0 on Friday. West Memphis plays at Searcy.