Saturday, October 03, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Pats blow past Panthers

Leader sports editor

The Cabot volleyball team suffered a pair of conference losses this week. The Lady Panthers started poorly in both matches, but came back to make Tuesday’s loss at North Little Rock competitive and exciting. Scores in that match were 25-13, 25-19, 23-25 and 28-26.

Thursday’s home match against Marion offered little excitement, and left Cabot coach Kham Chanthaphasouk frustrated with his team’s performance.

The Lady Patriots won by scores of 25-9, 25-18 and 25-11.

“Losing is not the issue,” said Chanthaphasouk after Thursday’s match. “When you play hard and you compete, sometimes you still come up short. We didn’t compete tonight. We just gave it away. We didn’t play together; we didn’t play as a team. We played as individuals, playing for ourselves.

“Marion is an outstanding team, so I can’t say we should have just gone out there and beat them. But when you have the talent that we have out on the floor, there’s no reason to lose like that. It was not even very competitive.”

The Lady Panthers lost 3-0 at Marion on Sept. 8, but all three sets were competitive. Scores then were 25-18, 29-27 and 25-22. But the Lady Patriots have been one of the hottest teams in the state over the last month.

Thursday’s match got out of hand early with Marion scoring 14 of the game one’s first 18 points. The lead quickly stretched to 20-5 before Cabot finally began playing point-for-point with the Lady Patriots (20-3-1, 8-2).

Game two continued the back-and-forth trend for a while. Cabot led 7-5 when another series of unforced errors helped the visiting team score five-straight points and take the lead. From there, Marion stretched the lead a little at a time leading to the seven-point win.

The final game started just like the first, with Marion jumping out to a big advantage quickly. The Lady Patriots’ depth at hitter frequently confused Cabot. It didn’t seem to matter who got the set on the visitors’ side of the net. All the Patriots were capable of big swings. Meanwhile, the unforced errors on Cabot’s side continued to mount.

Two consecutive points in game three told the story for the Lady Panthers. A pass after a rare free ball was left unset to fall to the floor. After that, a set was allowed to drop to the floor without a hit.

Marion’s Annalee Parker led the Lady Patriots with 11 kills while Dian Phillips contributed eight. Three other Marion players got at least four kills.

Marion is streaking. Since back-to-back losses to North Little Rock and Mountain Home, Marion has gone 16-1-1, and 16-0 against teams from Arkansas. The tie was to Briarcrest Christian during pool play of the ASU Playday tournament last weekend. The loss was to the same team in the championship match of that tournament.

During that run, Marion swept both conference teams it lost to earlier this season.

Cabot (6-7, 5-5) hosts Mountain Home on Tuesday.

SPORTS STORY >> Greyhounds upset Lonoke

Special to The Leader

It was homecoming on Friday night at James B. Abraham Stadium as the Lonoke Jack-rabbits hosted the Newport Greyhounds.

The Jackrabbits fought hard, but could not overcome turnovers and 246 rushing yards by Newport’s running back Carl Turner, as the Greyhounds prevailed for the 36-18 victory.

Lonoke fell to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in conference play, while Newport picked up its first win on the year.

“We turned the ball over three times on offense, and we probably dropped two that would have been a touchdown,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot tonight. Defensively, they had success just blitzing, sometimes five or six right at us, and had success on it. We had a couple more get hurt tonight. We’ve already had a stack of injuries hit us, but we’ve got to get people ready to play and got to go on next week and try to get a win.”

Newport had the first possession of the game and lost no time putting points on the board as quarterback Quavion Harris connected with Darrin Moore for a 69-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Greyhounds had the 6-0 lead.

The two teams exchanged punts before Lonoke tied the score on a 22-yard run by Justin Meadows.

Meadows had another 22-yard run previously in the drive. The extra point was blocked, so the score remained 6-6.

The first Jackrabbit turnover came on the next Lonoke possession, as quarterback Savonte Rountree was intercepted.

The Greyhounds turned the miscue into a touchdown on a 57-yard run by Turner on the first play from scrimmage to take a 12-6 lead on the last play of the first quarter. Again, Newport went for a two-point conversion and failed.

The Greyhounds scored again with 3:18 to go in the half after driving down the field from their own 16-yard line. The two-point conversion fell incomplete to leave the score 18-6.

Lonoke’s drive on the ensuing possession ended in a fumble, so that remained the score at intermission.

After punts were exchanged to start the second half, Lonoke had the ball on its own 14-yard line. On the first play, a fumble occurred and was recovered by Newport on the 10-yard line.

Turner took the ball into the end zone from there on the first play, and the lead increased to 24-6 with 5:55 to go in the third quarter. Again, the two-point conversion was no good.

The Jackrabbits responded with a 78-yard kickoff return by Casey Martin to trim the lead back to 24-12. This two-point conversion attempt was also no good.

Newport pinned Lonoke on its own 4-yard line on a punt, and received excellent field position on the Lonoke 29 after forcing a punt from the end zone.

Five plays later, Darrien Roddy scored from two yards out. The trend continued as the two-point conversion was no good, and the lead was 30-12 in favor of the visitors.

The Jackrabbits put together a 69-yard scoring drive which included two completions from Rountree to Ethan Holland for 27 and 12-yard gains.

On second and goal from the nine, Martin capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the evening. After yet another failed two-point conversion, the score was 30-18.

Turner scored the last touchdown of the evening on a 33-yard run to set the final score at 36-18 after the final missed conversion attempt of the contest. There was 8:17 remaining in the game.

Steven Barrett returned the following kickoff to the Lonoke 46-yard line, where the Jackrabbits picked up two first downs to the Greyhound 29-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Meadows led Lonoke with 70 yards rushing, all but 3 coming in the first half. Josh Coleman rushed for 50 yards for Lonoke..

The Jackrabbits travel to Southside Batesville next Friday night.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot plows under Marion

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot Panthers improved to 5-0 on the season with another mercy-rule victory Friday, this one a 42-20 victory over the Marion Patriots in 7A/6A-East action at Panther Stadium.

Cabot (5-0, 2-0) scored the first 28 points of the game before giving up an 80-yard touchdown on the final play of the first quarter. The Panthers scored the only touchdown of the second quarter to lead 35-7 at halftime, and added another seven points on their second possession of the third quarter to invoke the sportsmanship rule.

“Offensively, we had a pretty good night,” said Cabot coach Mike Malham. “Overall, we got the job done. We did what we had to do to get the win. They (Marion) are much improved. They beat us in the second half, but we got to play some JV kids in the second half, so that got them some more experience.

“We’re pleased. We’ve just got to start getting ready for West Memphis now. They’re the only ones next week that can beat us.”

Cabot scored on its first offensive series. Marion (3-2, 0-2) went three-and-out on its first possession, and the Panther offense found the end zone in six plays. The touchdown came on a 13-yard option keeper by quarterback Jarrod Barnes with 8:52 remaining in the opening quarter, and Caleb Shulte’s PAT made it 7-0 Cabot.

The Panthers started that drive at the Marion 35, thanks to a 16-yard punt by the Patriots. Because of the punting struggles, Marion went for it on fourth down at its own 25-yard line on the Patriots’ second possession.

The fourth-down pass by quarterback Taylor Holmes was incomplete, his sixth-straight incompletion, and Cabot took over at the Marion 25. From there, Cabot scored in three plays, with the TD coming on a 14-yard run by Alex Roberts. Shulte’s PAT made it 14-0 Panthers.

Austin Morse scored the next two TDs for Cabot. The first was from 11 yards out with 2:36 left in the first quarter. The second was a 63-yard run with eight seconds left in the quarter. Both of Shulte’s extra points gave the hosts a 28-0 cushion.

Marion’s first score came on the next offensive play. Starting from its own 20, Holmes connected with receiver Collin Chambers in the middle of the field and he raced 80 yards for the TD. The extra point made it 28-7, and that was the score at the end of one.

The Panthers turned it over on their next offensive series, but followed that drive with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard TD run by Roberts. The PAT by Shulte put the hosts up 35-7 with 2:18 left in the first half, and that was the score at halftime.

Cabot received the second-half kickoff and marched the ball inside the Patriots’ 10-yard line, but turned it over on downs. Marion went three-and-out, though, and from the 5-yard line, Holmes was set to punt, but botched the low snap and Cabot recovered the ball at the 1.

Jess Reed then took the dive play the distance for the score, and the extra point by Shulte made the score 42-7, which invoked the continuous clock, sportsmanship rule with 7:34 left in the third quarter.

Marion scored on its next offensive series. The drive was aided by a couple of penalties in the Panther secondary, and the score came on a 55-yard pass from Holmes to receiver Devin Blakely with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

The extra-point attempt was blocked by linebacker Easton Seidl, which made the score 42-13. Cabot’s starters didn’t play in the fourth quarter, and Marion added the game’s final score with 1:34 remaining.

That touchdown came on a 6-yard run by Tom Young on fourth down. The extra point set the final score.

Cabot finished the night with 384 yards of offense, all of which came on the ground. Barnes totaled 97 yards rushing on 12 carries with one touchdown, but Roberts led the Panthers with 104 yards and two TDs on 13 carries. Morse had 90 yards and two TDs on six carries.

Marion had 303 yards of offense Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe outlasts Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

Wild special teams plays and a series of late turnovers highlighted a crazy 13-12 victory for the Beebe Badgers on Friday at Jacksonville’s Jan Crow Stadium.

The one thing Beebe could not afford was another injury to a starting back, and that’s what it got when starting quarterback Justin Burlison was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter. Beebe’s second and third quarterbacks were already out with injuries suffered last week, leaving the job to senior inside linebacker Bo Smith for the rest of the game.

Beebe coach John Shannon could only remark about his team’s perseverance after the game.

“It just shows that these kids are made of something,” said Shannon. “Overcoming adversity has sort of been our rallying cry all season and all offseason long. They stepped up and overcame a lot tonight. We took another big blow tonight with injuries, but they just kept fighting. I’m so proud of them.

“Give Jacksonville credit, too. Their defense played great. They made a couple of fourth-down stops. My hat’s off to them. But when our offense wasn’t working, our defense stepped up and made the plays we needed to win.”

Jacksonville scored once in the first half, but neither team could get much going on offense the entire game. Three quarters with little excitement was followed by a wild fourth quarter.

The Badgers trailed 12-0 with 11:22 left in the game after a bad punt snap by Jacksonville turned into a Red Devil touchdown. The snap from the Jacksonville 42-yard line rolled back to kicker Tyler Hooper, who scooped it up and tried to get the punt away under heavy pressure.

The kick only made it to the 41-yard line. Beebe began running off the field celebrating the play, but since the ball did not reach the original line of scrimmage, it was still live. Jacksonville’s Marcus Casey picked it up and ran it 59 yards into the end zone. After another long delay while officials met with each other and escorted Beebe defensive coordinator Sean Robertson off the field, the officials ruled a touchdown for Jacksonville.

A two-point conversion attempt failed when quarterback Brandon Hickingbotham was sacked, leaving it 12-0.

Bo Smith then engineered Beebe’s best drive of the game, marching the Badgers 57 yards in just six plays. Tyler Woodall went 18 yards on third and 2. Trip Smith carried twice for 14 yards. Connor Patrom picked up 6 to set up first down at the Jacksonville 15.

From there, Bo Smith kept on the option right, broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, got stood up at the 4 but continued to barrel his way into the end zone with 9:18 remaining. Beebe’s extra point attempt failed as well, leaving it 12-6 with 9:18 remaining.

Jacksonville’s next drive was a disaster. Before a play was run, the Red Devils were called for illegal procedure. Three straight runs by Malcolm Crudup picked up 13 and left Jacksonville with fourth and 2.

After a timeout, Jacksonville failed to get its play called in time, and had to take another timeout, its last of the game. After another discussion, the punt team took the field, and another bad snap led to Beebe’s go-ahead score.

This time the snap from the 46-yard line sailed over Hooper’s head. He chased it down and picked it up at about the 15-yard line. He was slung to the ground by the pursuing Beebe defense and lost the football in the process.

It rolled back into the end zone, where Patrom covered with 6:49 to play. Patrom also hit the game-winning extra point that set the final margin.

Jacksonville started its next drive at its own 33 and got two big runs. The first one was by Crudup and the second by Shawn Ellis. But Ellis was stripped at the end of his run and Patrom covered it for the Badgers on the Beebe 34.

The Jacksonville defense held and forced a punt. The offense took over on its own 26 with 4:14 remaining in the game.

On second down, Hickingbotham hit Stevie Eskridge for a 16-yard pickup, and later found Deboious Cobbs for a 14-yard gain. A 12-yard run by Crudup was negated by a holding penalty, something that plagued the Red Devils throughout the game. But Jacksonville overcame the first and 21 situation and converted the fourth and 3 with an 8-yard draw play to Ellis. After an incomplete pass, another long run was called back for holding, setting up second and 19 at the 32.

Hickingbotham then threw to Harderrious Martin in the end zone, but Patrom recovered on the play and picked it off with 1:22 remaining to seal the win.

Burlison was carted off the field on a stretcher and driven away in an ambulance after taking a big hit on a pass play on second down and 22. Jacksonville’s Eskridge intercepted the pass and returned it to the Badger 45-yard line.

After a long delay for medics to tend to Burlison, Jacksonville scored in two plays. Crudup went up the middle for 9 yards on first down. Ellis then went up the middle for 36 and the first and only score of the first half.

The extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the score 6-0 with 6:38 remaining in the second quarter.

Beebe finished with 273 total yards of offense, all on the ground, while Jacksonville had 260. Jacksonville rushed for 199 and threw for 61. Casey’s one run of 58 yards led the Red Devils. Ellis carried 10 times for 56 yards and Crudup carried eight times for 48.

The Red Devils were called for 10 penalties for 85 yards, including five holding penalties that all negated plays of at least 9 yards. One of the penalties called back a 60-yard punt return to the Beebe 3-yard line by Martin. The other four called back runs of 9, 10, 10 and 12 yards.

Beebe had two turnovers and Jacksonville three. All three of the Red Devil turnovers came in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

Trip Smith carried 31 times for 186 yards for the Badgers to lead all rushers.

Both teams play undefeated teams next week. The Badgers (2-3, 1-1) travel to Pulaski Academy next Friday while Jacksonville (1-4, 1-1) goes to Sylvan Hills.

Friday, October 02, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Our man in Havana

It does not match President Nixon’s opening to communist China in 1972 for boldness and certainly not for historical significance, but Governor Asa Hutchinson’s visit to the little neighboring communist state of Cuba is noteworthy because, well, because he didn’t need to do it but he did it anyway.

He did it to promote Arkansas commercial interests that want to sell products and services to Cuba whenever the U.S. Congress gets out of the way and lets it happen. You can do almost anything if the end is higher profits for business, even trade with a communist dictator

The governor’s opening to Havana was cheered by the agricultural and commercial communities, which have long sought opportunities to trade with the little island, despite its desperate economic circumstances. Even the state’s senior senator, the very conservative John Boozman, is on Hutchinson’s side—and, let it be said, on the side of President Obama, who restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and hopes to persuade Congress to end the Cuban embargo, which dates to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Obama conceded that it is not likely to happen while he is president because, whatever the wishes of majorities of both parties, the small tea-party contingent can keep it from happening if it’s something that would be seen as supporting Obama. That contingent includes, of course, Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, who had deplored the president’s rapprochement with Cuba.

Hutchinson handled the nasty politics of the situation delicately, avoiding any reference to Cotton, Ted Cruz or others in the party who want to maintain an unswerving and uncompromising enmity toward every U.S. foe, casual or sworn, now and forever. Certain things have to happen before Arkansas can begin to trade with the Cubans, he said, alluding to but not mentioning the embargo, the congressional right wing’s determination to exterminate the Export-Import Bank or the development of a cash economy on the island that depends upon America’s letting it happen.

Cotton, Cruz and the others say the United States should not have diplomatic or trade contact with Cuba as long as it does not have a good record on human rights. If that were the standard, the United States would not have relations with its great allies in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, or for that matter with Russia or with the other two communist nations, the People’s Republic of China and Vietnam, which happen to enjoy Most Favored Nation status for trade. But Cuba? Never.

Hutchinson elliptically addressed those questions. The United States tried isolating Cuba in hopes that the suffering Cuban people would rise up and overthrow the Castros. Since the experiment didn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something else, he said.

Perhaps the governor’s stance does not involve any political risk in 2015. As of yesterday, the state’s only statewide newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, was still editorially silent on Hutchinson’s initiative. The paper has praised everything Hutchinson has done, as governor, congressman, Washington bureaucrat and federal law-enforcement officer, and found fault with him for nothing.

If Hutchinson’s predecessor, the Democrat Mike Beebe, had done the same thing, you would not hear the end of it. When the congressman from east Arkansas, Bill V. Alexander, urged diplomatic recognition and trade with the island to help Arkansas rice and poultry industries and the Cuban people, the Democrat Gazette ridiculed him—“Boogalo Bill,” the editorials always called him.

When the Second District’s Democratic congressman, Vic Snyder, visited the island and spoke with Fidel Castro, the newspaper’s editorial page went after him—not once but many times. Whenever he ran for office, the paper’s editorial page reproduced the photograph of him with the communist. You want to elect a man who once clasped the hand of a communist?

But Boozman and Hutchinson are Republicans. Like Nixon, they enjoy the cover of an archconservative party. Progress gets made that way, too. —Ernie Dumas

TOP STORY >> Despite lawsuit, Beebe borrows to extend water

Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council on Monday approved an ordinance authorizing the Beebe Water and Sewer Commission to establish a $1 million line of credit through Centennial Bank. The loan would be for five years at 2.83 percent interest.

According to Mayor Mike Robertson, the credit will be available if Beebe Water and Sewer needs to purchase water lines for future growth. Some water lines inside city limits are owned by a rural water development group.

Southwest White County Water Association Public Water Authority filed a suit last January in U.S. District Court-Eastern District of Arkansas against the city and the Beebe Water and Sewer Commission, claiming encroachment and demanding restitution for loss of income and customers.

Southwest alleges that Beebe has installed and plans further installation of water and sewer lines within South-west’s service area.

Southwest, in its complaint, said Beebe has more than 140 water meters in areas that Southwest serves. The disputed areas include Meadows Subdivision, a portion of Duggar Road and West Mississippi Street. There are also disputed areas off Christina and Beaver roads, Jamie Lane and a section at the corner of Duggar Road and Harness Lane.

The suit alleges Beebe has caused Southwest customers to end water service with Southwest in favor of getting water service from Beebe.

Southwest is arguing that it qualifies for federal protection from Beebe’s encroachment. Southwest is seeking an injunction against Beebe from engaging in competition with Southwest and any act that would limit Southwest’s rights to sell water within its service territory.

The suit has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Brian Miller and Magistrate Judge H. David Young.

 In other business, Connie Kirby, owner of the house at 1031 Tori Lane in the Windwood Subdivision, asked the city council to consider rescinding the city’s declaration that the house was substantially damaged. She would like to sell the house or rent it.

The house was purchased in 2003 and flooded three times in October 2009, December 2009 and May 2011. It was later determined that it had been built in a floodplain. Building inspector Milton McCullar declared the house substantially damaged.

The Kirbys received $5,000 in federal funds to either tear down the house, move the house or elevate it. The Kirbys did neither of the three actions.

McCullar said the house will flood again.

The city council in 2013 condemned the house. Kirby pleaded no contest for not tearing down it down or maintaining the property.

According to Kirby, Bank of America, who mortgaged the house, would not let them tear down the house.

She used flood insurance for the house’s contents and for rent because she was paying on a mortgage. Kirby stopped payments and the bank foreclosed on the house. Bank of America then sold the mortgage to a bank in New York.

The foreclosure was dismissed this year.

City Attorney Scott Bles was concerned about the $5,000 in federal funds being misappropriated. Bles wants Kirby to refund the money back to the government. The federal money was paid based on McCullar’s finding.

Bles also wants the Kirbys to pay the city for cutting the grass at the home for a year and to sign a declaration that the city will not be held responsible for future damages due to flooding.

The council wanted to get more information from the federal government before making a decision.

• Aldermen passed an ordinance prohibiting hosting or permitting parties where minors consume alcoholic beverages. Violating the ordinance can result in a fine of up to $500 for the first offense and doubling for each subsequent offense, or up to 60 days in jail.

• The council amended an ordinance on yard sales. It now requires signs posted on Saturday to taken down by 8 a.m. Monday morning.

• Aldermen approved an ordinance amending the zoning map to change 611 W. California St. from R-1 residential to R-3 residential.

TOP STORY >> C-130Js stay at Keesler in 2016 budget

Leader senior staff writer

Second District Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) did not get 10 C-130Js transferred to Little Rock Air Force Base from Keesler AFB, as he wanted, in the $611.8 billion 2016 national defense authorization bill agreed on by the House-Senate Joint Conference Committee and passed by the House this week.

Plans for Kessler’s C-130Js have changed several times over the past few budgets, but location of the planes has not.

Hill said Wednesday he was pleased with several other aspects of the bill, which must now be passed by the Senate and signed by the president.


“However, I am disappointed that my amendment to conduct a business- case analysis on the Air Force’s decision to maintain 10 C-130J aircraft at Keesler Air Force Base

was not included. One year ago, Air Force officials highlighted the importance of Little Rock Air Force Base and the cost savings and efficiencies that would be realized by relocating these aircraft to LRAFB, which is one of the most technologically advanced and well-run military installations in the entire country and is a center of excellence for our global airlift operations,” Hill said.

“Although I disagree with this decision, I will continue my work to ensure that LRAFB maintains its airlift capabilities, which are so essential to our entire military,” Hill continued.

Hill told The Leader on Friday he’s hopeful LRAFB can eventually get the planes from Keesler, especially after new leadership in the House is chosen.

The Air Force has a $41 billion procurement budget, which includes about $15.7 billion for aircraft, $2.99 billion for missiles, $2.6 billion for space, $1.75 billion for ammunition and, for other procurement, $18.3 billion.

Language in the bill makes it difficult to transfer any C-130H from one facility to another, or to retire or prepare to retire any C-130Hs or to close any C-130H for at least 90 days following such a decision by the Air Force chief of staff and others.

It appears that at least $75 million has been allocated for C-130H avionics modernization to enable the older planes to keep flying when new air- space regulations overseas and in established U.S. air corridors take effect.

Of the $611.8 billion defense budget, $515 billion is the main budget, with $89.2 billion in “overseas contingency operations” and another $7.6 billion in defense mandatory spending.

“The FY 2016 NDAA will increase accountability for taxpayer dollars being spent on training forces in Syria, provide funding to enhance our cyber warfare capabilities, and give crucial funding to assist the Ukrainian military,” Hill said.

“This bill also authorizes additional funds to be used for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account and accelerates the Blackhawk helicopter modernization plan, which is critical to our Army National Guard Aviation Units,” Hill said.


“I am particularly pleased with the NDAA’s reauthorization of the prohibitions against transferring of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees to the United States. Last week, I visited GTMO and saw firsthand this safe and secure facility that holds the world’s most notorious agents of terror, and we must ensure its utilization in our ongoing fight against terrorism,” the congressman said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Lonoke County Fair takes GOP straw poll

One of the more interesting sideshows at the Lonoke County Fair last week was a straw poll by the local Republican Party committee asking fairgoers about their preferred presidential candidates.

Keep in mind, it wasn’t a scientific poll, and tallies were made by placing pieces of plastic straws into fishbowls. But there were some predictable results nonetheless, as reported by Chuck Eick, who serves on the Lonoke County Election Commission.

Out of 227 votes cast, Donald Trump and Ben Carson tied with 26 percent of the vote.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee received just 16 percent, a poor showing in his home state, or it was home before he moved to Florida. Carly Fiorina had 11 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz got 8 percent and Marco Rubio received 6 percent.

The rest of the candidates — Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Chris Christie and John Kasich — received 2 percent or less.

“It was interesting sociologically,” Eick said. “It reflects the national trend. It is going to be an interesting election year. Some people were excited, while some wanted nothing to do with the candidates and walked away.” Maybe they were Democrats.

EDITORIAL >> Foster care needs you!

Arkansas’ foster-care system needs our help, and that has never been more painfully obvious as when Michelle Hood spoke to the Jacksonville and North Little Rock Sertoma Clubs during a combined meeting last week at Southern Oaks Country Club.

Hood is a community-engagement specialist for Arkansas’ Creating Connections for Children (ARCCC) project. She’s with the state Department of Human Services’ Division of Children and Family Services.

There are 122 Jacksonville kids in the state’s care, but only 24 open and approved homes with families to take them in, Hood revealed.

That means about 81 percent are living in emergency shelters, group homes or with foster families far from their own communities — far from everything they know.

The shortage in North Little Rock is only slightly better at 80 percent not going into foster homes there. There are 198 North Little Rock kids, but 40 families willing to care for them.

According to The Call, a Christian organization mentioned by one attendee, the state cares for about 7,000 kids a year and there are just 1,100 homes.

Hood said there are about 4,500 children in foster care across the state now, and The Call’s website states that there are 3,500 at any given time.

Best case, 31 percent don’t end up in the shelters or group homes. Worst case is just 15 percent.

These numbers are not only pathetic, they’re terrifying, especially for these innocents who have already experienced far too much suffering in their short lives.

But not everyone can foster a child. The training, which Hood said the state is hoping to cut in half, and requirements of caring for the neglected or abused kids are extensive. One meeting attendee mentioned that The Call is a faster program, and the specialist agreed.

It’s not just the time commitment that is discouraging. Fostering takes a special kind of heart, too.

Embracing these broken little ones with the open and compassionate understanding they need but not getting attached is difficult. Foster families must accept that they could be sent back to their parents, adopted or transferred elsewhere.

But Hood shed some light on other ways to help them.

For one, kids don’t have much when they are removed from their homes because of neglect or abuse. Donate toiletries, food, etc.

Give them the normal comforts of childhood, such as birthday parties.

Be the caring soul sitting with them during a hospital stay, or serve as a mentor. Having someone who listens can be a powerful healing thing.

Help in a more indirect way by providing transportation or handling paperwork for the overworked state employees, Hood said. Caseworkers in Arkansas watch over 50-plus kids each.

Please, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, follow through with a goal Hood referenced in her speech — bring that load down to around 30 kids, even though the national average is twice that. At least it’s a step in the right direction.

Hood ended her talk by saying the Bible instructs us to care for orphans. While many foster kids are not orphans in the sense that their parents have passed away, she explained how many have told her they feel just as alone and lost.

If you can’t provide a home for these children, do something else that lets them know that they are loved. And remember that it takes a village.

TOP STORY >> Festival set for Saturday

Leader staff writer

Offerings at the 39th annual Sherwood Fest, which is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, continue the medieval-meets-new-world theme launched last year that was inspired by the city’s name and Robin Hood mascot.

The event is at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave.

A hammer-throw contest sponsored by Boomerang Car Wash starts at 3, as does the pie jousting competition, which is sponsored by Gadwall’s Grill.

The headliner this year is Joshua Davis, who placed third in the most recent season of “The Voice.” His website reads that he “was raised in the folk tradition: the music, the social movements, the land. He writes songs that blend the roots of American music with gritty rock n’ roll and vintage soul... His music is steeped in ragtime blues, sweet jazz and real country.” The award-winning artist, who lives in Traverse City, Mich., has toured the U.S. and Canada for over 15 years.

Mayor Virginia Young said Sherwood Fest would “have a lot of good entertainment, and it looks like it’s going to be the most entertainment we’ve had.”

She noted, “I think it’s going to be something that’s going to be nice. I think people should get out and enjoy the community.”

Organizer Misty Heaton said, “It’s going to be bigger and better than ever.” Medieval costumes are encouraged, she added.

The entertainment includes:

• Marisa and Jacq’s Dancers at 10:45 a.m.,

• The Southwind Band from Sherwood at 11:15 a.m.,

• gospel-rock artist John Neal from Little Rock at 12:30 p.m.,

• Ms. Karen’s Dance Studio at 1:30 p.m.,

• Trout Fishing in America at 1:45 p.m.,

• New Creation Dance Company on the indoor stage at 2 p.m.,

• country singer Michael Callahan, a Sherwood native who lives in Nashville, Tenn., at 3:15 p.m.

• and Impact Gymnastics at 4 p.m.

All performances are on the outdoor stage unless otherwise noted.

The festival kicks off with a Conquer the Climb 5K at 7:30 a.m. Sherwood CrossFit and the Sherwood Rotary Club are sponsoring the fun run.

Sherwood Cross Fit also sponsored a tug of war contest at 2 p.m.

Registration for the run, before Saturday, is $15 for ages 15 and under. It’s $25 for ages 16 and over. The cost is $30 for those who register on race day.

Proceeds will benefit the Rotary Club’s scholarship fund and youth programs.

The top overall male contestant, the top overall female contestant and the top three in four age categories — 15 and under, 16-29, 30-49 and 50 plus — will be recognized.

There’s plenty else to enjoy, too, with more than 75 vendors participating.

The city’s police and fire departments will compete in at least one contest for the traveling Merrymen Golden Chalice Award trophy. Firefighters are also excited to show off a new ladder truck.

A horseshoe competition (sponsored by Hearts and Hooves) will be held at 10 a.m.

A cute kids contest sponsored by Centennial Bank is at 10 a.m. on the indoor stage.

An archery tournament —in its second year and sponsored by Outdoor World Bass Pro Shop — will be held at 11 a.m.

The castle-building contest was introduced at the 2014 festival and is sponsored by Keep Sherwood Beautiful. Register from 8 to 10 a.m. to create castles between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. using recycled cardboard boxes, plastic, paper and tape. Judging is at 2:30 p.m., and prizes will be awarded.

Register for contests at the information booth 30 minutes prior, unless otherwise noted.

The advertising and promotions commission sponsors the event. Best Western is a friend of the festival sponsor.

TOP STORY >> FestiVille this weekend in Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

The third annual Jacksonville FestiVille kicks off Friday and runs through Saturday evening at Dupree Park off Redmond Road.

And it’s sure to be smokin’ hot this year, with the Memphis Barbecue Network-sponsored Grill In The Ville BBQ Competition to be held Saturday. Judging of three categories — chicken, beef and pork — starts at 3 p.m.

Several teams will compete for cash, trophies and bragging rights, according to Marlo Jackson of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

She said the grand champion, who will have to enter every category, will take home $200.

First place in each category comes with $125. Second-place winners walk away with $75, and there’s a $50 cash prize for those who place third.

The cookoff is a “patio” level contest, Jackson explained, adding that the network provided judges. It will not qualify teams for larger competitions.

She said organizers hope to build participation and “get their feet wet” with a laid-back sort of affair.

The highlights of this weekend are headliners Brandon Farris, a Christian rap artist, who lives in Florida but is from Pine Bluff, (according to his Facebook page), and Jacksonville, Ark.-based Eddie and the Defiantz.

Farris will perform from 6 until 7:30 p.m. Friday, with Eddie and the Defiantz taking the stage from 7 until 8 p.m. Saturday.

Jackson emphasized that FestiVille is “very community-based” with free admission, free parking and free activities.

She said, “Come for a fun weekend with the family.”

Mayor Gary Fletcher added, “I think it’s going to be one of the biggest and most joyful events we’re going to have...A lot of work went into it...I’ve seen it develop into a first-rate fair.”
He also said Monday that vendors were already arriving and good weather was expected.

Other special FestiVille events include the British Motor Club of Arkansas car show from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, helicopter rides at 1 p.m. Saturday, Peace, Love and Run 5K from 8 until 11 a.m. Saturday (the cost is $25 plus a $2.50 sign-up fee), petting zoo and pony rides from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday, police K9 demo at 3:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and the volleyball “Draw” tournament. The cost is $10 per player. Signup is from 8:30 till 8:55 a.m. Saturday, and games are 9:15 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday at softball field No. 4.

Also, carnival rides and games will run from 6 until 10 p.m. Thursday, 4 until 10 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Saturday. Armbands are $15 Thursday and $20 Saturday, when they can be used from 6 until 10 p.m.

Tickets are $1 each, $20 for 22 and $40 for 45. All rides require more than one ticket.

Entertainment includes the following on the A&P Stage:

• Redefined Reflection from 4 until 4:45 p.m. Friday,

• Cliff Hudson Band from 5 until 5:45 p.m. Friday,

• Beka DeSantis from 1 until 1:45 p.m. Saturday,

• Fetts Folly from 2 until 2:45 p.m. Saturday,

• Wreckless Endeavor from 3 until 3:45 p.m. Saturday,

• Pamela K. Ward and the Last Call Orchestra from 4 until 4:45 p.m. Saturday,

• Down and Dirty from 5 until 5:45 p.m. Saturday

• and Big Chuk from 6 until 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

On the Pavilion Stage, there will be:

• Lighthouse Charter School performances from 4 until 5 p.m. Friday,

• Victory Praise and Worship Church performances from 5:15 until 5:45 p.m. Friday and 12:15 until 12:45 p.m. Saturday;

• New Livin’ Quartet from 6 until 7 p.m. Friday,

• Announcement of 5K winners from 9 until 9:15 a.m. Saturday,

• Senior center’s beanbag baseball from 9:30 until 11 a.m.

• Central Arkansas Performing Arts Academy from 11:30 a.m. till noon,

• Miss Teen Greater Jacksonville Bethany Kasper, Miss Greater Jacksonville Elise Jones and Sharon’s Dance and Gymnastics performances from 1 until 2 p.m.;

• Jacksonville High School cheerleaders from 2:15 until 2:45 p.m.;

• Huff and Puff gym performances from 3 until 4 p.m.;

• Mr. and Miss Poolside Cutie Contest winners from 4:15 until 4:30 p.m.;

• Jacksonville Middle School and Jacksonville-North Pulaski bands from 4:30 until 5 p.m.;

• and JHS Choir from 5 until 5:30 p.m.

Admission to the kids area, run by McArthur Assembly of God, is free. There will be inflatables, face painting and balloon art.

The Jacksonville Animal Shelter is participating in FestiVille as well. There will be a rock wall, photo booth and fingerprinting, too.

TOP STORY >> Pipeline could bisect areas of Indian march

Leader staff writer

Along Hwy. 89 in the southern part of Cabot near Crossroad CafĂ©, there are signs posted that read “SENSITIVE AREA.” They give notice to where a pipeline under construction is crossing onto the Trail of Tears, the path to the West thousands of Indians were forced to march in the 1830s.

Magellan Midstream Partners is working on laying a fuel pipeline from Searcy to Little Rock.

Magellan joined with Ozark Gas Transmission to carry up to 75,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel a day from Fort Smith to Searcy and then on to North Little Rock, Little Rock and Little Rock Air Force Base.

The pipeline goes through a frontage road portion of the late Cone and Betty Magie estate.

Magellan now trucks the fuel on I-40 from Fort Smith to Little Rock, including Little Rock area airports. The company says it will reduce pollution by sending the fuel through pipelines.

The “sensitive area” markers are on land owned by Shelly Moran and her family. On Saturday, Moran was met by two men in hard hats and orange vests. Moran said one man, Jim Biscoe, told her he and the archeologist were monitors. Biscoe is a Choctaw Indian contracted by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma.

He said monitors would be there to watch the pipeline work closely. If items were discovered, they would be sent to experts for examination, documentation and later returned to the landowners. It’s hoped that owners would donate the items back to the tribes.

“He said this area was a branch of the Trail of Tears. It goes across our property and as far as Military Road. He said it’s possible the high spots on our property were camping areas for the Indians. The Indians could travel only four or five miles per day and stopped often to spend the night. The higher spots made better camping grounds,” Moran said.

The monitors were to look at anything that might be found and make sure no artifacts, burial places or bones were destroyed by heavy equipment that will be digging the land for the pipeline.

Biscoe said about 30 percent of the Indians who were moved along the Trail of Tears passed away and were buried wherever they died.

“I think it is interesting that this part is the Trail of Tears. I didn’t know the Trail of Tears came through this area. Daddy said this land, a million years ago, was the bottom of the ocean. To learn this was the Trail of Tears makes it that much more interesting,” Moran said. “I had never looked for relics on the property because I never knew.”

She said she had lived in the area since 1955.

According to the National Park Service, the Cherokee people were forcefully re-moved from their homelands in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee by the U.S. government to live in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

The Cherokees walked or rode horses, wagons or were put on steamboats from 1838-39.

The Native Americans had two Trail of Tears routes through Lonoke County.

One route follows from Carlisle on Hwy. 70 to Lonoke, then along Hwy. 89 to Furlow, west on Hwy. 294 to Jacksonville then on Hwy. 161 to Prothro Junction.

A second route is from Carlisle on Hwy. 13 to Hwy. 236 onto Hwy. 31 to Hwy. 321. It continues to Hwy. 231 to Hwy. 38 to Old Austin.

The trail then continues on Hwy. 319 through Ward to Funston.

SPORTS STORY >> Toss-ups and mismatches in week five

Leader sports editor

This Friday marks the halfway point of the football season, and presents some interesting matchups and a couple of likely blowouts.

One of the more interesting games is Beebe at Jacksonville. It’s homecoming week for the Red Devils and they welcome the limping Badgers to Jan Crow Stadium. A wounded Badger is a dangerous one, however, and the Beebe Badgers are fighting for their playoff lives despite it just being the second conference game of the season. Beebe enters this week’s game with as many as four, and at least three offensive starters out, as well as two defensive starters. Only 34 players were dressed out for practice on Monday for Beebe.

Jacksonville will only be missing one player, and has a lot more depth than Beebe, at least in regards to total number of players. The Red Devils still had almost as many players left at practice after the junior varsity team left for a game at PA on Monday, as the Badgers have dressing out for practice.

Despite the compounded problems of low numbers, several injuries and three-straight losses, Beebe went to work on Monday with focus. The Badgers always break up into individual groups every Monday, and the majority of that time was spent on defense this Monday. Jacksonville has given a few different looks on offense and Beebe head coach John Shannon wants the team prepared for all of it.

Beebe was picked as high as third in preseason and second in the conference. But after losing 14-13 to McClellan, the Badgers need to beat Jacksonville to avoid any playoff hopes at all from sliding further away.

With only seven teams in the conference this year, due to the elimination of the North Pulaski program, it will likely only take three conference wins to make the playoffs. A Beebe loss, however, means needing to win three of the last four, with two currently undefeated teams still left on the schedule.


The other conference matchup involving a local team is Sylvan Hills (4-0) hosting J.A. Fair (0-4). The Bears are averaging 55 points per game while the War Eagles have scored two offensive touchdowns all season. That’s about all anyone needs to know about this matchup.


The Class 7A Cabot Panthers play an utterly meaningless conference game against Class 6A Marion at home on Friday. Marion (3-1) appears to be improving under second-year coach Jed Davis.

The Patriots won just one game last year after switching from longtime coach Mark Uhiren’s Diamond-T to the Spread, but have tripled that win total in four games this year.

The Panthers had a mercy rule at halftime last year. That probably won’t happen this season, but Cabot (4-0) is still a heavy favorite.

While the Panthers may not race out to a 42-0 lead, if they take care of the football, the final score could be very similar to last year’s 42-6. Sans J.A. Fair, Cabot’s competition level has been much better than Marion’s. The Patriots started 3-0 with three-point wins over Wynne and Blytheville, and a 20-point win over Nettleton, all three of the 5A-East.

Last week, the Patriots played a struggling West Memphis team and lost 34-21, even though the Blue Devils had only beaten Wynne by one and had lost to Blytheville.

While Cabot quarterback Jarrod Barnes got most of the headlines for the several big plays the offense busted in its 34-3 win over North Little Rock, the Panther defense was the key to that victory.

In three first-half trips into the red zone, the Wildcats managed just three points. When a defensive touchdown early in the third quarter put the Wildcats down 27-3, they had to largely abandon the run game, and the Cabot secondary was stellar in coverage the rest of the way.

If the defense continues to play that well, and the offense can avoid the fumbles that have plagued it all season long, this game won’t stay close much past halftime either.


The Lonoke Jackrabbits are coming off a terribly disappointing loss to Heber Springs while Newport enters the game riding a season-long wave of disappointment. Injuries are a big reason for Lonoke’s letdown.

The Greyhounds, however, were picked by many to win the 4A-2 Conference, and that goal is still attainable. But the 0-4 Hounds have barely been competitive in three of their losses, and dropped their league opener at home to Helena-West Helena Central last week, 25-14.

Newport was also upset by HWHC in the conference opener last season, and didn’t lose again until the playoffs, winning six-straight, starting with a 34-12 victory over the Jackrabbits.

Lonoke was riding high after opening the season with back-to-back upset victories over Star City and Beebe. It then lost a hard-fought game to McClellan, but still carried a lot of confidence into the league opener, which it lost 20-19. The Jackrabbits started that game without their biggest threat on offense in senior speedster Justin Meadows, who suffered a shoulder injury against McClellan. During the game, the Jackrabbits also lost their quarterback and two-way starter Logan Dozier.

It’s uncertain how long those players will be out, or if they will miss this week’s homecoming game. If the Jackrabbits are at full strength, they’ll be favored against the struggling Greyhounds.


Carlisle also lost last week, but looks like it took a big step forward in battling Des Arc to the wire. The Bison won’t be able to gauge improvement much this week. They face Marvell, who, like Sylvan Hills’ opponent, has been one of the worst programs in the state the last several years. Like Fair, the Mustangs have scored exactly 26 points all season, and have given up 200 points in four games.

The only thing that could cause Carlisle any trouble this week is the temptation to look ahead to next week’s game against archrival Hazen.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot boys’ tennis prevails at Conway

Leader sportswriter

The Cabot High School tennis teams had mixed results in their final two 7A-Central Conference matches of the regular season, but did have different individuals stand out in each one.

Cabot’s boys’ and girls’ teams each finished 1-3 in the official match scores at Searcy on Monday, with both top singles players in each division making up the two wins. Carly Carpenter dominated her match for the Lady Panthers, winning 8-0, while Clayton Ellis won a hard-fought 9-7 match in the boys’ ranks.

Last Thursday, the Panthers and Lady Panthers played at Conway, and the CHS boys were the team to shine in that one. The Panthers won that match against the Wampus Cats 3-1, while the Lady Panthers lost by that margin.

The No. 2 Cabot boys’ singles player, Max Mathis, won his match over Conway’s Carson Wallace 8-4, andboth of the Cabot boys’ doubles teams dominated.

The CHS teams of Bryant Cason/Turner Bankston and Parker Gibson/Trey Wagnon each won their matches at Conway 8-0. The one win for the Lady Panthers, at least for the official match scores, was a big one.

The No. 2 doubles team of Lauren Roberts and Sadie Lea beat the previously unbeaten Conway team of Andrea Moore and Paten Denton by a narrow 9-7 final.

“The girls played very well against Conway,” said Cabot coach Mary Emily Nash. “My No. 2 doubles team of Lauren Roberts and Sadie Lea – they beat an undefeated Conway team. So, that was pretty impressive. All but one court of boys won.”

Ellis won his match 9-7 on Monday, but lost by that margin last Thursday to Adam Barnett, who’s expected to play tennis at the collegiate level.

“That kid (Barnett) is planning on playing at the collegiate level. It was a really close match. He’s been playing really well the last couple of matches,” Nash said of her top boys’ singles player.

Though they didn’t count toward the official match scores, the Panthers and Lady Panthers had other wins last week at Conway. Nathan Ellis won a pair of singles matches at Conway. He won his first match 6-4 and his second 6-2.

Madeline Chosich was the lone Lady Panther to win her singles match at Conway. She beat Bailey Glover by the final score of 6-0. After Roberts and Lea gave the team of Moore/Denton its lone loss of the season, the team of Carpenter and Ally Bevis won their doubles match 6-2.

Gracie and Olivia New also won their doubles match at Conway, beating the team of Mattie Pham and Tara Bates 6-3.

At Searcy on Monday, besides Clayton Ellis, Bankston was the only other Panther to win a singles match. Again, it didn’t count toward the official match scores, but he won his match 8-4.

The top two Panthers’ doubles teams fell short against the Lions, but the team of Gibson and Cason made sure the CHS boys’ doubles teams didn’t leave White County winless, as they won their doubles match 8-5.

Cason is coming off a weekend where he won the 16-under division of the Fall Classic Junior Open at The Racquet Club in Little Rock.

Cason was one Cabot player that played well Monday, but the group, as a whole, didn’t play up to its capabilities, according to the head coach.

“It wasn’t the match that I’d hoped it would be,” Nash said. “Our net play wasn’t very good across the board. I don’t know if we were rusty after coming off the weekend or what, but we struggled a little bit at the net tonight. There were lots of unforced errors.”

With Monday’s match being the final one of the regular season, the Cabot tennis teams will get a little bit of time off before the 7A-Central Conference Tournament, which is scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at the Rebsamen Tennis Center in Little Rock.

A lot of teams within the league will use that time off to rest up, but Nash plans to use that time to work on some of her teams’ weaknesses.

“Now we have a week and a half before conference to get those things corrected,” Nash said. “I think most people will be taking a break. I’m going to give my kids a couple of days off, but we’re going to try to be a little more on point for the conference tournament than we have been the last couple of matches.”

Play in the conference tournament will begin at 9 a.m. on Oct. 7.

SPORTS STORY >> Key injuries slow ’Rabs’ momentum

Leader sportswriter

Lonoke wasn’t at full strength entering Friday’s 4A-2 Conference opener at Heber Springs, and the injuries only got worse against the Panthers, which helped the hosts escape with a 20-19 win over the Jackrabbits.

The Jackrabbits (2-2, 0-1) played Friday’s game without big-play threat Justin Meadows, who suffered a shoulder injury in the team’s week-three loss to McClellan, and against the Panthers (2-2, 1-0), Lonoke lost starting quarterback Savonte Rountree and receiver/running back Logan Dozier to injuries.

In all, a total of five starters didn’t play Friday’s game.

“We had starters at five positions that were out,” said Lonoke coach Doug Bost. “The injury bug definitely hit us Friday night. That hurt us.”

Rountree was injured on the Jackrabbits’ first offensive series, and Dozier took over at quarterback. Heber Springs scored the first and only touchdown of the first quarter and made the PAT that followed to take a 7-0 lead.

Lonoke answered the touchdown early in the second quarter when Dozier threw a 15-yard TD pass to Jawaun Bryant. Casey Martin kicked the extra point to tie the score at 7-7. Dozier was injured before halftime, and Will Miller took the snaps for the rest of the game. The score was 7-7 at the half.

Heber Springs was the first to find the end zone in the second half. That score came on a 15-yard run by Edgar Torres, and the extra point put the Panthers up 14-7. Lonoke’s offense answered late in the third quarter on a 3-yard TD run by running back Josh Coleman.

The Jackrabbits went for the two-point conversion, but the play was shut down by the Panthers’defense. The score brought Lonoke within 14-13 of Heber’s lead.

Lonoke took the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard TD pass from Miller to Bryant. Martin ran for 53 yards on the drive to help set up the score. The two-point conversion once again was no good, leaving the score 19-14 Jackrabbits.

Heber Springs responded with a 71-yard drive that was capped with a 4-yard run by Torres. The two-point try was no good, setting the final score.

Lonoke tried to rally on its final offensive possession, but turned the ball over on an interception. Heber Springs then ran out the clock to seal the win. In spite of all the injuries, the Rabbits still gave themselves a chance to win the game, and Bost was pleased with the effort his team played with throughout the game.

“Everybody played hard,” Bost said. “We were pleased with the effort that they gave.”

Martin led the Jackrabbits with 100 yards on 11 carries. Coleman had 20 carries for 69 yards. Miller was 2 for 3 passing with one touchdown and one interception. Bryant had three catches for 44 yards and two touchdowns.

Lonoke will look for its first conference win of the season this Friday against Newport. That game will also be Lonoke’s homecoming, and will be their last home game till week eight.

The Greyhounds were the 4A-2 Conference champs a season ago, but enter Friday’s game with a 0-4 record. They lost their league opener, 25-14, at home to Helena-West Helena Central last week.

Even though the Hounds enter Friday’s game without a win on their 2015 resume, Bost said there’s no reason to take them lightly.

“They’ve played some 5A teams in Nettleton and Sylvan Hills,” Bost said of Newport. “They played up in classification in nonconference, and played a tough Helena team that has I think eight starters back on offense. So they’ve played some good competition.”

The Greyhounds lost some key starters from last year’s conference championship team, including a three-year starter at quarterback. They do have their leading rusher back for his senior season in Carl Turner.

Turner is a four-year starting tailback for the Greyhounds and has been an All-State selection in two of the last three seasons.

“They have Carl Turner back for a fourth year,” Bost said. “He’s been All-State two out of three years. He’s a heck of a running back. That’s a guy that you’ve got to stop, because the offense definitely goes through him.”

Bost said the Greyhounds have gone to more of a power run game this season in order to feature Turner more. Newport has traditionally been a Spread team, and will still line up in that formation periodically. But the offense is more run oriented this year in order to get the ball in Turner’s hands.

“They’re going to get the ball to him, so they’re more in a power-run formation this year,” Bost said. “In the past, they’ve been Spread, but they had a three-year starter at quarterback last year and some starting receivers and they did lose all those.

“They start off in a power formation. They want to run it, but from what we’ve seen on film, if you stop them there, then they’ll jump in the Spread.”

It does help Lonoke that Newport’s defense has surrendered an average of 34 points per game this season, and if the Jackrabbits can get healthy on offense by Friday night, they should be able score some points on that defense.

Kickoff for Friday’s homecoming game at James B. Abraham Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers must win at JHS

Leader sports editor

It’s just the second week of conference play in the 5A-Central, but this Friday’s matchup between Jacksonville and Beebe carries significant playoff implications for both teams. It’s homecoming week for Jacksonville, so the Red Devils are dealing with further distractions, but the main issue the home team faces is getting its struggling offense to be more effective against one of the better defenses in the conference.

Most teams struggle with how to stop Beebe’s downhill Dead-T offense. Jacksonville did a fantastic job of that last season, and the Badgers have suffered several key injuries already this season that have made that offense somewhat less explosive than preseason expectations. Turnovers have also hurt the Badgers, especially the five lost fumbles in last week’s 14-13 loss to McClellan, but injuries have played a role in those as well.

At least two players have been lost for the season. Seven have missed at least one game and as many as three Badgers will be out for this week’s game. Two of them are quarterbacks.

Starter Justin Burlison was held out of last week’s game as doctors tried to figure out what caused a dizzy spell during practice. All those results finally came in Tuesday, and Burlison is cleared to play. His backup, sophomore Mason Walker, suffered a knee injury while playing defense against McClellan.

The third-string quarterback, Zack Woodall, who is also a defensive back, had to leave the game after taking a blind cheap shot from a McClellan defensive end away from the action. That left starting inside linebacker Bo Smith to finish the game under center, and he could start this week against Jacksonville as well.

Beebe had already lost 1,300-yard rusher Jo’Vaughn Wyrick for the season when his leg was broken at Lonoke, and two starting defensive linemen have missed games as well. There are also a few reserve players who will sit this week at Jan Crow Stadium.

“I know I said this last year after the way that season started, but I’ve never had a season like this one,” said Beebe coach John Shannon. “This one’s actually worse than last year with the injuries.”

Both teams enter the game 1-3, but Beebe has not won since the season opener while Jacksonville picked up its first win last week when it beat J.A. Fair 44-6. Beating Fair is not necessarily a sign of a good team, but Shannon knows playing with confidence is a key part of any team’s success, and the Red Devils picked up some confidence with last week’s dominant victory.

Jacksonville was 0-3 last year before beating Fair, then stretched Beebe to the fourth quarter before losing by seven on a late Badger touchdown.

“You watch them on film and what scares me about them is they have athletes on the field,” Shannon said. “They haven’t had a lot of success, but when guys like that start playing with some confidence, it can change a lot of things. That offensive line is huge. It’s every bit as big as McClellan’s and maybe bigger. Jacksonville’s a dangerous team, and we have to have this one. Our backs are against the wall so we have to give it everything we’ve got.”

Jacksonville still has one starter out, sophomore running back Danny Smith, but senior Malcolm Crudup ran the ball well last week. He had been starting at linebacker, but moved to offense full time last week.

The Red Devils had struggled badly on defense the first three weeks, primarily with missing tackles. It looked better at Fair, but the War Eagles’ Spread offense does not compare at all to how physical the Badgers’ power run game will be.

“We’re going to have to tackle to the ground,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. “Trip Smith is a strong fullback. He makes a living running through tackles, and it’s a whole different mindset getting ready for those linemen to come firing off the line at you. It’s a challenge changing your whole approach on defense, but that’s what Beebe does to you.”

There have been signs of the confidence Shannon worries about at Jacksonville practices this week.

“Everybody always feels a lot better after a win,” Hickingbotham said on Monday. “There’s a little more energy out here today. We want to keep it going. I think we started out last week still a little unsure of ourselves. We weren’t moving it very well early. But the defense stepped up and made some plays and put us in some good situations.

“We still got down to the goal line a couple times and didn’t get it in. But for the most part I thought we got better. We have to keep doing that all week because Beebe is going to be a whole different ball game,” the coach said.