Saturday, September 17, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears shock Jacksonville

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills volleyball team trailed Jacksonville by a game in the 5A/6A District 4 standings when they met Tuesday in Jacksonville, but it didn’t look like it. The Lady Bears dominated the action and took advantage of a sometimes-disorganized Jacksonville squad to earn a 3-0 victory. Scores in the match were 25-17, 25-18 and 25-16.

Sylvan Hills’ service game did most of the damage. Each set featured long service rallies by different Lady Bears that Jacksonville seemed unable to adjust to.

Sylvan Hills coach Harold Treadway said he thought Tuesday’s match was probably the best one his team has played all season.

“We’ve had some good ones against some teams that weren’t very good, but as far as playing this well against a quality team, I’d have to say this was probably our best match of the year, said Treadway. “Jacksonville worried me. They really did. She (first-year coach Savannah Jacoby) has these girls working hard. She’s instilled some enthusiasm into this program and they’ve gotten better. So I was worried coming in because I didn’t feel like we had played up to our potential. But tonight was nice. If you’d told me we would win three straight sets that easily, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Jacoby was also a little surprised at how well Sylvan Hills played, but was mostly disappointed in her own team.

“They did not look like the team I saw on film,” Jacoby said about Sylvan Hills. “They were just all around better than I was expecting. That’s still no excuse for how we played tonight. We didn’t do anything that we work on. We didn’t communicate. We didn’t move well. They had way too many long service rallies where we just didn’t adjust to anything; way too many aces. That’s just a lack of focus.”

Games one and two saw Sylvan Hills jump out to quick leads from which Jacksonville never overcame.

In the opening set, Sylvan Hills broke the opening serve, and Lydia Young served six-straight points to start the match before the Lady Titans scored. Sylvan Hills immediately broke back, and Jacksonville was never closer than six points the rest of the set.

In game two, Neiagha Thomas opened things up for Sylvan Hills with another six in a row, and four of the six points were aces.

The lead grew to as much as 17-8 before Jacksonville’s Taylor Toombs answered with five-straight points and three aces to pull the home team to within four.

A few points later, Jacksonville pulled back to within four at 21-17 when Sylvan Hills’ spike attempt hit the net and a fourth hit was called. But after a delay, the official ruled it a Jacksonville block and an inadvertent whistle that stopped play.

That took the point off the board, and the Lady Bears won the do-over, which drew another delay as Jacoby expressed her disagreement with the ruling.

“That was frustrating because that was about the third or fourth call they had made that I thought was just terrible,” Jacoby said. “I get frustrated about things like that, but I don’t want to come off like that’s why we lost. The difference in this match was they came focused and ready to play and we didn’t.”

Jacksonville grabbed an early lead in game three at 6-2, and it should have grown to 8-2, but back-to-back blocks turned into back-to-back net violations against Jacksonville.

With the score at 7-7, Sylvan Hills Anna Snyder took serve for six points, including three-consecutive aces before Jacoby called a timeout.

“Our service game was really on point,” Treadway said. “We have girls we know are our stronger servers, but tonight it was across the board. Everybody did a pretty good job, and a few of them were outstanding.”

Thomas finished with 12 service points, including seven aces, to lead Sylvan Hills. Young added 10 points on serve, including three aces. Snyder had eight points and four aces.

Toombs led Jacksonville with 10 points and four aces.

The Lady Bears (6-5, 4-2) added two more conference wins on Wednesday and Thursday, beating Mills 3-1 on the road, and then coming home to handle Hall High 3-0 at home.

Scores against Mills were 17-25, 28-26, 25-20 and 25-12. The Lady Bears demolished Hall 25-6, 25-9 and 25-8.

Jacksonville (3-7, 3-3) also lost 3-0 to Maumelle on Thursday to fall a game behind Sylvan Hills.

SPORTS STORY >> Panther starters mostly observe

Leader sports editor

The Cabot Panthers continued their winning ways with a 41-0 mercy-rule win over the winless J.A. Fair War Eagles Friday night at J.A. Fair in Little Rock.

The Panthers scored six rushing touchdowns in the game where Cabot garnered 41 points by halftime activating the mercy rule for the second half where the clock continued to run substantially shortening the game.

The lopsided win also gave Malham a chance to play many of his second and third-tier players, including three quarterbacks: Cody Skinner, Jessie Windemaker and Layton Morris.

Not a pass was thrown by the Panthers, but they did run the ball 35 times for 207 yards. J.A Fair threw the ball downfield about six times, all incompletes and only completed one pass a short left side screen for no gain. Overall, the War Eagles ended the game with negative 21 yards.

The only negative on the Cabot side was two lost fumbles, but their defense held strong and no damage was done. The closest the War Eagles came to scoring was a 55-yard field goal that hit about six yards short.

Cabot’s first score took three plays and came at the 8:49 mark of the first quarter when Adam Flores went right up the middle for a one-yard touchdown run after strong runs by Braxton Burton and Austin Morse.

The Panthers scored again less than three minutes later on a 5-yard run by Tadariyan Rogers after Brad Morales turned a loss into a 33-yard gain.

Cabot’s defense was strong all night swarming and gang-tackling the War Eagles running backs.

At the 3:13 mark of the first quarter the Panthers were on the score board again as Burton zigged off left tackle and crossed the goal line standing up.

The extra point was missed, leaving the score 20-0.

But Cabot wasn’t through with their first quarter scoring as Seth Carter scampered five yards to make it 26-0 and the good extra point brought it to 27-0.

In the second quarter Windemaker took over the quarterback spot and on a third down play three yards from the goal he handed off to Mason Martin. who easily made it into the end zone. Tack on another extra point and it was 34-0.

Morris took over the reins then and quarterbacked the rest of the way and with five minutes left in the half lead the Panthers to their final score and extra point.

The War Eagles went scoreless for the third game in a row. The 3-0 Panthers, using their strong ground game, have outscored opponents 97-40. They will face the Catholic Rockets next Friday at Panther Stadium to open play in the 7A-Central Conference.

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills dominates on defense

Leader sports editor

The Sylvan Hills defense dominated and the offense was efficient as the Bears routed Jacksonville 42-7 Friday at Jan Crow Stadium.

Sylvan Hills’ game plan was to pressure the quarterback and the strategy worked. The Bears totaled nine sacks of Jacksonville quarterback Rowdy Weathers. Jacksonville managed just 87 total yards of offense and five of its 11 offensive possessions went for negative yardage.

“We have to get pressure on the quarterback,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “Tonight I thought the defense was great. The defensive line was outstanding. It was just a dominant performance by our defense.”

In the first half, Sylvan Hills opened the scoring after moving Jacksonville backwards on the home team’s first possession. A bad punt set the Bears up at the Jacksonville 36, and it took just four plays to get into the end zone.

A 28-yard run by Dylan Fairrow on the second play got the ball to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Jordan Washington plunged it in from 3 yards out and Tito Mendoza’s extra point made it 7-0 with 8:09 left in the first quarter.

Jacksonville lost 8 yards on its next possession, and again Sylvan Hills started in Titan territory.

The Bears converted a third and 7 with a 12-yard pass from Washington to Jamar Lane. Deon Young-blood then rumbled 21 yards to set up first and goal at the 7.

Two plays later, Youngblood broke through the line of scrimmage for a 14-0 lead with 4:40 remaining.

After a failed on-side kick attempt, Jacksonville got its first and second first downs on its third drive, but things went awry from there. Quarterback Rowdy Weathers hit Dillon Birge for 11 yards on first down, and then scrambled for 19 more on second and long to move the chains to the Sylvan Hills 15-yard line.

The next four plays all resulted in Sylvan Hills sacks, including two by Andre Collins, who finished the game with four sacks.

The sacks pushed the Titans back 20 yards, and the Bears took over on their own 35.

Five plays got the ball to the Jacksonville 33, and Fairrow did the rest, making the score 21-0 with 11:35 remaining in the first half.

Ty Compton got his second sack of the half on third and 10 to force another Jacksonville punt, and Fred Mackie returned it 30 yards to the Jacksonville 28.

Three plays later, Washington hit Youngblood from 12 yards out, and Mendoza made it 28-0 with 9:12 left in the half.

Jacksonville got one first down before punting, and finally got a defensive stop to get the ball back on the Bear 37.

After an incomplete pass, Jacksonville took advantage of Sylvan Hills’ all-out blitz. Weathers took a two-step drop and hit Jakyree Wynne on a quick slant pattern. Wynne broke several tackles and ran 63 yards for the score. Darryl Kimble-Brook’s extra point made it 28-7 with 3:09 on the clock and that’s how it stayed until halftime.

Sylvan Hills got good field position to start the second half after Jacksonville was issued an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for not yielding to Sylvan Hills at the locker room.

The Bears started at their own 46 and needed nine plays to go back up by 28. The first play of the drive was an 11-yard run by Youngblood, and so was the last play of the drive with 9:21 left in the third quarter.

The Bears’ defense then got three-straight sacks on the ensuing possession, two by Omari Hervey sandwiching Collins’ final sack of the night.

Youngblood lost the ball on the second play of the next possession, but the defense again stopped Jacksonville after one first down.

Another good return by Mackie set the Bears up at the Jacksonville 33. After one first down, a penalty and a sack by Jacksonville’s Derrick Bragg cost Sylvan Hills 8 yards, but the Bears scored on third down on a 14-yard pass from Washington to Youngblood. Mendoza’s extra point set the final margin and initiated the mercy rule clock with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

Sylvan Hills finished with 350 total yards.

Youngblood finished with 144 total yards and four touchdowns. He had 14 carries for 118 yards and two scores, and two receptions for 26 yards and two touchdowns.

Fairrow had six carries for 78 yards and a score.

The Bears (3-0) begin 5A-Central Conference play with a big game at home against McClellan next week. Jacksonville (1-2) opens league play in the 6A-East at Searcy.

Friday, September 16, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Police meet with public

Police departments in Jacksonville and Lonoke recently hosted town hall meetings with residents to assure them they’re getting outstanding protection while their rights are being protected.

Jacksonville Police Chief Kenny Boyd and Lonoke Police Chief Patrick Mulligan made impressive presentations for their departments at their community centers held at the same time Sept. 8 before some 45 people in each town. Communication and community were two words repeatedly used during the forums.

“We can improve the police department with community relations,” Boyd said. He urged residents to come forward if they have concerns about the police.

He said a good police department starts with recruiting, “so you do not get bad cops. There is a screening process to maintain the integrity of that officer. We have monitors in place,” Boyd said.

Mulligan expressed similar sentiments. “I might have to arrest someone, but I’ll hand them a card and say call if we can help you in any way.”

Mulligan said he offers free counseling and free anger-management classes in the jail led by local pastors, for prisoners and parolees. “In some jails, people are locked up and forgotten.”

Both town halls were effective, and we recommend them for other communities in our area.

TOP STORY >> Searcy campus marks 50 years

ASU-Beebe will hold a 50th anniversary celebration of its Searcy campus from 2 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

Formerly Foothills Vocational Technical School, the Searcy campus opened in 1966 with 17 employees, and was renamed Foothills Technical Institute in 1991. Foothills merged with ASU-Beebe in 2003.

The celebration coincides with a month-long statewide celebration of community colleges called Arkansas Community College Work$.

Dedicated in April 1967 by Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, the focus was to teach students a trade to immediately enter the workforce. Some of the first programs offered at Foothills Vocational Technical School were auto mechanics, farm and diesel equipment, machine shop, office occupations, practical nursing, welding and drafting.

Since joining with ASU-Beebe, additional educational opportunities have opened up for students.

With 60 employees, the campus serves a range of students from high school through the Regional Career Center, to students working on their GED, to traditional and non-traditional students earning technical certificates or associate degrees.

The Searcy campus offers certificates of proficiency and technical certification in air conditioning, auto-body repair, automotive technology, machine technology, diesel technology, EMT-paramedics, multi-skills technology, medical-records technology, practical nursing and welding.

Students can complete most of the programs in about one year and earn a technical certificate. The credits can also count towards degree programs.

The 50th anniversary is open to the public, and will welcome state and local dignitaries, past and current administration, and former students. Events will include tours of the facilities and demonstrations by students and faculty, beginning at 2 p.m. in the Technology East Building, Room 127.

At 3:30 p.m., a brief program will be presented, with gifts given to alumni in attendance. The program will be followed by a reception.

The Searcy campus is at 1800 E. Moore Ave.

TOP STORY >> Governor names Byrd to quorum court

Leader staff writer

The Lonoke County Quorum Court had a new face at the meeting on Thursday. Darlene Byrd of Cabot was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier in the day to represent District 12. She replaces JP Matt Sanders, who moved out of the district.

Byrd’s appointment expires on Dec. 31. Patty Knox was elected to the position during primary election in March. Knox ran unopposed.

Byrd has lived in Cabot for 19 years. She is an advanced nurse practitioner. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing science from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and a doctorate in nursing practice from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Byrd has 26 years of nursing experience and is the owner of APN HealthCare, a company where she fills-in for a physician or a nurse practitioner when they are out of the office.

Byrd was appointed by then Gov. Mike Huckabee to the State Board of Nursing for eight years. She was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to the National Advisory Committee for Rural Health and Human Services.

Byrd ran for state representative in 2014 and lost the Republican primary to state Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot). They ran for the seat held by Rep. Davy Carter (R-Cabot), who was term-limited.

“It is an honor to be able to do this. I thank Matt Sanders for his service to the county and the quorum court. He did a good job representing the district. I’m appreciative of the governor and his trust in me to appoint me to the position,” Byrd said.

The quorum court approved four appropriation ordinances amending the operation budget for 2016. One ordinance was to appropriate $63,800 from the county general fund to repairs to the Lonoke County Detention Center roof.

A second ordinance was approved to appropriate $5,000 for web service and computer equipment for court automation fund for Divisions 1, 2 and 3 of the Lonoke County Circuit Court.

A third ordinance was approved for the election commission’s reimbursement of $69,890 during the primary election in March from the state board of elections. The funds will be used for the general election in November.

A fourth ordinance was approved to appropriate $13,939 to the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office’s special crime unit.

The funds are overtime reimbursement from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s drug task force for the use of a narcotics sheriff’s deputy.

Lonoke County Museum director Sherryl Miller gave an update on two projects at the museum.

In 1994, two books were completed of the marked headstones in all 80 cemeteries in Lonoke County. The museum is updating the books with all the people who have been buried since ’94.

She said the museum has published a book, “Dr. Ross’s Ledger from Prairie County,” which includes the land now part of Lonoke County. He practiced medicine in 1864 after the Civil War. The ledger records who he visited, the medicine he gave them and how much he charged them.

TOP STORY >> Judge firm on deseg lawsuit

Leader staff writer

The remaining parties to the Plan 2000 school desegregation lawsuit need to agree that all are unitary in staffing or prepare for an evidentiary hearing or trial by late fall 2017, U.S. District Judge D. Price Marshall Jr. told them Thursday at the quarterly desegregation status report.

“This is a lawsuit,” the judge said. “There needs to be an end or a moment of clarity,” in the suit that has languished in federal court for nearly 17 years.

“Let’s reach an agreement or let’s have our trial,” the judge said.

Marshall told them that if all parties, which includes John Walker and the Joshua Intervenors, can’t agree the remaining districts are unitary or desegregated in staffing, they need to go to mediation or declare an impasse, which would result in the evidentiary hearing or the trial.

Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts have been declared unitary—that’s desegregated in all categories, leaving the Pulaski County Special School District, and by way of detachment, the brand new Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District to meet all unitary standards. The new school inherited all the unitary and non-unitary declarations when it detached from PCSSD.

In addition to staffing and facilities, the two districts are not unitary in achievement, monitoring and student discipline.

“We need to get our hands around staffing,” Marshall said, “before we lose momentum and lose progress.”

Walker challenged JNPSD over racial balance in staffing and PCSSD Superintendent Jerry Guess over progress on facilities.

JNPSD Attorney Scott Richardson noted that the district had hired approximately 500 certified and classified employees, 27 percent of them minorities. He reported that 16.6 percent of administrators in the new district were black. The new district is about 50 percent minority.

He challenged Richardson, saying that the district had hired white staff to administer to black staff.

Richardson noted that there were three central office administrators in positions of authority, including assistant superintendent Jeremy Owoh, second in command, who was the third hire, and had been involved in many key areas such as the hiring of principals and curriculum issues. In addition to Owoh, the director of special education and curriculum are also black, Richardson said.

“Plan 2000 requires fair process, not numbers,” Richardson said. Among other attempts to hire black staff—teachers and administrators among them—JNPSD recruited at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, a historically black university.

Walker challenged Guess over whether or not PCSSD had kept Joshua informed at each turn regarding progress in building new facilities and rehabilitating older ones.

He asked Guess why, if a new Mills High School was the top priority, dirt work for a new Robinson High School was further along than dirt work at Mills.

Guess said contractors had encountered problems at the Mills site, but that both new high schools were scheduled to open in fall 2018.

Walker asked why the new Mills and Robinson high schools are budgeted for about $40 million each, while the new Jacksonville High School is expected to cost about $60 million.

Walker asked Richardson why JNPSD was building a new high school instead of a new middle school, and why the uncertainty continued about one new elementary school to replace both Arnold Drive and Tolleson elementary schools.

Richardson explained that the new school is high on a list for Defense Department construction funding—it will be built outside the wire on Little Rock Air Force Base—but that it’s about number 35 on a list that currently will contribute to 34 projects.

Richardson said the district was committed to building the new elementary school to open in August 2018, and the new high school to open 2019.

The state Board of Education will let the district know May 1 how much state partnership money the district will get for those projects.

The judge wanted to know what’s next on Jacksonville’s facility plans. It’s likely that the district will build one new elementary school to replace Pinewood and Dupree.

The next status hearing is set for Dec. 7.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TOP STORY >> Bond running for Senate

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville native Will Bond, a Democrat now of Little Rock, is running against Libertarian Jacob Mosier for state Senate District 32, the rare Arkansas district so Democratic that they are without a Republican challenger.

Mosier is a bank teller for Onebanc, and doesn’t seem to have an online election presence and no financial disclosure records were on file with the Secretary of State’s website.

That district, currently represented by Democrat David Johnson, covers downtown Little Rock roughly between I-30 Bridge and Shackleford on the east and west and the Arkansas River and I-630 on the north and west.

Bond, 46, who was Jacksonville’s state representative from 2003 through 2008, said because Johnson elected to run for judge instead of reelection, it created an opening just at a time when “I was ready to run again.”

Bond, managing partner at McMath Wood Law and former Dist. 44 state representative representing Jacksonville, moved to Little Rock several years ago, but he is best known in his home town for his work both in the House and on behalf of creation of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District.

Bond’s mother, Pat Bond, worked for a new district when she was the area’s state representative, and when Bond succeeded her, he sponsored language that allowed the eventual creation of the district.

Bond was active in the various groups that worked toward a Jacksonville school district and he says he’s impressed with the work that has been done to make the new district a reality.

“All these big changes required the efforts of a lot of people,” Bond said, including great teachers and administrators who stuck with the program patiently.

He also had high praise for Superintendent Tony Wood and former interim Superintendent Bobby Lester, who helped guide the fledgling district. This was the first time a new district was detached from an existing district, and there was no road map, he said.

“I’ve know Tony for a long time,” Bond said. “They are incredible, competent administrators.”

There was a false start in 2003, but the local district court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court put the brakes on derailing that effort. “The only thing better than getting the new district now would have bee getting it 10 years ago,” Bond said.

New term-limits rules allow for a total of 16 years in the General Assembly, which could allow him 10 years in the state senate.

He says he’s proud of the restrained budget adopted in 2007, with a big surplus.

He has worked hard as a volunteer lawyer to increase the minimum wage and also proud of the work he and former state Rep. Sandra Prater (D-Jacksonville) did to create tax-deductible health savings accounts and to allow senior citizens to buy insurance to protect some of their assets if they have to go into nursing homes.

“It was the right thing to do and we saved the state money,” Bond said.

“If we can somehow resist the initial urge toward sarcasm and the easy jab (at people who disagree) there can be efficient solutions found to some of our problems,” Bond said.

There are facts, data and things that have worked in some other states, Bond said.

“If we work to make things better, we can build a bigger, brighter future for all Arkansans. We ought to do it,” he added.

“What we can do in the state is have a real discussion over the budget. It shows our values and priorities. We’ve got to expand pre-K opportunities for kids,” he added. “It improves outcomes. The pre-K budget hasn’t kept up with inflation.”

Bond wants to make sure “we replenish school buildings, infrastructure and make sure facilities are clean and safe.

He would also like to see less money go to prisons, and more to treat addiction and mental health. He says there’s a big hole that gets filled with law enforcement officers who have to act as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers when dealing with people who have mental health problems.

Bond, a 1988 graduate of Jacksonville High School, played baseball for Vanderbilt University and holds a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

“We were state champs in 1987,” Bond said and the following year their Gwatney Chevrolet American Legion team won the state.

Bond and his wife Gabriel will celebrate their 20th anniversary next month. They have a son Cy, 15, and twin girls, 11.

TOP STORY >> Medieval-themed fair Sept. 24

Leader staff writer

The 40th annual Sherwood Fest will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave. Admission is free.

Sherwood Fest will have medieval-themed contests throughout the day.

The Conquer the Climb 5K run will start at 8 a.m. at the Sherwood Forest Trail. An archery contest is scheduled at 10:30 a.m.

Castle building using recycled materials will be at 12:45 p.m. at the Forest Room Stage.

A hammer throw is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. A tug-of-war will be at 1:45 p.m.

Horseshoes pitching contest is at 2 p.m. Pie-jousting is happening at 2:45 p.m.

Performing at the festival will be the Southwind Band at 11:45 a.m., a four-piece band playing classic traditional country and classic rock. Big Dam Horns will follow at 12:45 p.m. The band has a six-piece horn section. They play a mix of classic rock, funk, rhythm and blues.

The Zac Dunlap Band takes the stage at 3 p.m. Zac and Hannah Dunlap are musicians from Little Rock. Tragikly White will perform at 4:30 p.m. playing dance favorites from the 1970s to 2010.

Dancing groups performing during the day are Marissa and Jacq’s Dancers, Impact Gymnastics, Limelight Studios, Dance FX and Ms. Karen’s Dance Studio.

Local acts performing are Lily Guess, Cierra Willison, Caleb Allen, Allie Keen, Heart of Rock, Boss and Sydney McGill.

Sherwood Fest will have rides and inflatables. The purchase of a $5 armband allows for unlimited access to the ride and inflatables. There will a live pony carousel, an obstacle course, sumo wrestling, moonwalks, joust, slides and other inflatables.

A kid zone will have free crafts, games and balloon animals.

TOP STORY >> Release medical records

Leader executive editor

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said this week they will release “detailed medical records” amid rumors about Hillary’s health, especially in the wake of her near-fainting spell at Sunday’s 9/11 ceremony in New York.

She said she’s been suffering from pneumonia for several days, and she appears to be on the mend.

The Internet is filled with conspiracy theories about her health, but also about Trump, whose doctor last December released an embarrassingly fulsome medical report that described him as the healthiest presidential candidate in history.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s name inevitably figures in some of the most prominent conspiracy theories. Putin, who has been killing his opponents for decades, hates Clinton and admires Trump. Putin has called Trump “colorful,” and Trump has returned the compliment by calling Putin “a great leader.”

Putin’s critics who are familiar with his poisoning opponents, think he’s trying to harm Clinton.

Dr. Bennet Omalu, the American physician who connected head injuries in football players to degenerative brain disease, is convinced Putin is out to harm Clinton.

“I do not trust Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump. With these two all things are possible," he tweeted.

“I must advice (sic) the Clinton campaign to perform toxicological analysis of Ms. Clinton’s blood. It is possible she is being poisoned.”

In 2006, Putin’s agents poisoned Alexander Litvinenko, who had defected from the Federal Security Service (the successor to the dreaded KGB, where Putin served as an officer). They brought polonium from a Russian nuclear plant and put the poison in Litvinenko’s tea in a London restaurant. He fell ill suddenly and died three weeks later.

Putin’s agents also poisoned former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko during his re-election campaign in 2004. They put dioxin in his food. Yushchenko survived, but is disfigured for life.

Putin is a menace to his own people and the rest of the world. He has protected Syrian dictator Assad and has protected drug cartels in St. Petersburg, where he was vice mayor before he became president.

He almost certainly ordered the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

He has reasons to wish Clinton were incapacitated. He probably has a thick file on Hillary and Trump as well. Why Trump thinks so highly of the tiny dictator is a mystery.

But beyond medical records, Trump should follow Clinton’s example and release 10 years worth of financial records and tax returns, including the work of his foundation. A co-founder of LinkedIn says he’ll give a veterans group $5 million if Trump releases his tax returns.

Sketchy records uncovered by the Washington Post show the foundation has not received any money from Trump in more than a decade.

The Post says Trump has used other people's money to pay for a handful of charities, but more seriously, the foundation has made political donations in violation of IRS rules.

The foundation recently paid a $2,500 fine after it made an improper $25,000 gift to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who called off an investigation of Trump University, which has been accused of defrauding participants in the real estate seminar out of millions of dollars.

Some na├»ve participants paid as much as $35,000 hoping to learn about Trump’s real estate secrets.

The presidential campaign will get nastier, but foreigners like Putin must be warned to stay out of our politics.

We have a long dossier on him, thanks to Litvinenko: Putin ordered the bombings of apartment buildings in 1999 in Russia, where nearly 300 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Chechen rebels were blamed for the attacks, but Russian scholars believe it was Putin’s Federal Security Service that carried out the bombings to whip up support for a war against Chechnya.

Local police arrested several FSB agents planting bombs at one of the apartment buildings but were later released.

According to Litvinenko, Putin is also a known pedophile. He has looted an estimated $40 billion from the Russian people.

If Putin wants an oligarch’s McMansion, he tells him to move out and he should be glad he wasn’t poisoned.

Others have not been so lucky.

TOP STORY >> Lonoke is ready for a big cleanup

Leader staff writer

Lonoke is about to embark on a major cleanup effort to spruce up the city.

“We’re trying to clean up the whole town,” Mayor Wayne McGee told the city council Monday during a public-comment period.

In attempts to get the city to take action, Delories Allison complained about old junk cars, high grass and trash.

She believes the debris makes the neighborhood “unsafe.”

“We need to get together and do something about it…More needs to be done,” said Allison, who lives on Pleasant Street.

Joyce Jones of East Palm Street also spoke.

“There are 17 (non-running) cars within a four-block radius of my house…Carports are filled with junk. We need to get busy,” Jones said.

In response, McGee said his office had hired two code-enforcement officers who were currently taking code enforcement classes through the city of Rogers for Heating and Air Conditioning inspections.

Mayor McGee said the officers will attend additional classes, covering other areas of code-enforcement laws, in the coming month.

At next month’s meeting, McGee said the city council will draft an ordinance giving the officers authority to issue citations and tickets, as well setting fine amounts.

Once the ordinance is adopted, officers will be issuing warnings and citations, possibly as early as October, he said.

Also, the city has slated as many as 10 properties for demolition, McGee said. If the property owner isn’t willing to “fix it up,” he said the city will eventually tear the building down and remove the debris from the property.

As part of that effort, he said the city has scheduled a fall cleanup from Saturday, Oct. 8 through Saturday, Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Dumpsters will be located at the Lonoke City Shop at 1219 Barnes St.

For more information, contact the Lonoke Public Works Department at 676-4370 or 676-2422.

Aldermen Pat Howell and Wendell Walker were absent.


Ordinance 712 drew a large crowd to the Monday meeting.

Basically, the city council changed the wording of its R1 rating of day care facilities, allowing service providers to care for up to seven children as long as they are in compliance with the state and meet the definition of residential home day care.

Alderman Pat Howell voted against the measure on the first reading—saying the ordinance wording needed to include a proprietor’s notification of intent to neighbors through public notice.

Once other members agreed to amend the ordinance in the near future, Howell voted in favor of the wording during the second and third readings of the ordinance.

The council approved the day care family homes in R-1 zoning districts by conditional use, which would require consideration by the Lonoke Planning Commission on a case-by-case basis.


The city also unanimously passed Ordinance 711, which allows Lonoke to pay for road construction services on Palm Street.

During the excavation and repair of Palm Street, city workers and Rogers Construction, Inc. of Conway discovered several areas “where the aggregate base was either missing or more unstable than previously anticipated, and where additional rock and shale were needed to correct the substandard base.”

Rogers Construction provided the additional base but that upped costs over the already council-approved $158,300, and the new ordinance approved an additional $11,328 that needed to pay the invoice in full.

It was unanimously approved by the aldermen.


The city also unanimously passed an ordinance at the request of Lonoke Quorum Court JP RD Hopper, allowing a representative of the city to participate in a 911 Advisory Board.

Hopper said when calling 911 from a landline, the dispatch operator knows the caller’s address. However, cell phones ping off the nearest cell tower, so it’s impossible for the operator to determine the caller’s location.

Hopper is leading the county’s effort to establish the 911 Advisory Board, which he hopes will include cities from around the county, as well as one Lonoke Quorum Court JP and members of the various state and local emergency service agencies.

Lonoke Police Chief Pat Mulligan asked the city to allow him and the Lonoke City Attorney Camille Bennett to craft an “unsafe drivers” ordinance that would be presented at the October meeting for passage.

It would allow his officers to issue tickets to unsafe drivers for $150. State-issued tickets for the same offense cost the driver between $200 and $300 and goes on the operator’s driving record.

Lonoke’s violation would not, Mulligan said.

The council unanimously approved Mulligan’s request.

He also informed members that state inmates housed at the Lonoke City Jail can now stay longer than six weeks.

“We can now keep people up to six months,” Mulligan said.

The city jail reserves 28 spaces for their own usage but have an additional half dozen spots to house state inmates. Lonoke receives $30 a day per prisoner from the state, and McGee said it offsets city jail costs and inmates can be used to help on city projects.

“It’s free labor,” McGee said.


In order to accommodate the Thrive team, the mayor allowed Will Staley, Thrive co-founder and creative director, to talk about their nonprofit design services immediately following the public comment portion of the meeting.

Thrive is based in Helena and has done work for the King Biscuit Blues Festival, East Arkansas Planning and Development District, Delta Cultural Center and Southern Bancorp Community Partners and more.

The firm was recommended by the Lonoke Industrial Development Commission and could be an asset to the city’s Kick Start Lonoke effort.

“We create marketing tools but not the (marketing) plan,” Staley told the Council. Their services include website design and construction but not site maintenance, he said.

Ryan Biles, a Lonoke Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors member, said the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce members realize they need a new website.

In early June, the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) at Conway announced it had selected Lonoke as its 2016 Community Development Institute (CDI) community and would work with community and city leaders to help improve its economic climate.

The CDI program is a cooperative effort between UCA and the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Office Breakthrough Solutions Program.

Thrive’s services will cost the city about $40,000.

Council members unanimously approved hiring Thrive, with the money to pay for the services coming from the coffers of the city’s Retail Economic Commission.

Biles said after the meeting, “I’m particularly excited about the methodology and process that Thrive will utilize to first learn what makes Lonoke unique and then develop the tools which highlight those aspects. The opportunity for Thrive to undertake their work in tandem with the Kick Start Lonoke initiative underway now is especially advantageous for our community.”

Also, as part of Kick Start Lonoke program, the mayor said, “We need to have everyone fill out their survey.”

It is designed to identify citizens’ and business owners’ top priorities for the city’s long term and economic development.

A printed version of the survey was included in last month’s water bill but is also available online at…/lonoke-launches-co…/.


The mayor reported that the waste water pump station at Rosemary Street recently “went down” leaving a number of customers, including three Lonoke schools and the Lonoke Community Center, without services.

But he said the city quickly replaced the faulty relief valve and added a quick connect valve that allows the city to bypass the main pump in the future if it ever fails again.

“It won’t be a problem again,” the mayor said.


Fire Chief Jimmy Wallace said his department is responding to as many as 30 calls per month, including a high number of gas leaks, such as the one firefighters responded to earlier that day because a faulty gas line connected to the water heater was leaking.

“We transported two (people who were in the home) to the hospital today,” he said.

His department wants to spend nearly $2,000 on a carbon monoxide and natural gas detector, as well as a calibrator for the detector.

The Council approved the expenditure.

Community center director Mike Brown said there are plans for the addition of an approximately 300 square-foot kitchen to the center’s multi-purpose room. Preliminary drawings by Russ Matson, president of Matson Construction of Little Rock, also include a storage room and men’s and women’s restroom facilities.

The plans include warming ovens, a refrigerator and sink.

“We’re in the process of finalizing our plans,” Brown said. The plans will go to the council for approval and the project will be put out to bid.

He hopes to keep the total cost under $120,000, which the community center has in hand.

The center serves more than 900 members each month.

TOP STORY >> Arkansas Military Expo Saturday

The free family-friendly Arkansas Military Expo is coming to Little Rock Air Force Base on Saturday.

Team Little Rock will be opening its gates to welcome community partners on the 69th anniversary of the founding of the Air Force.

“We are going to bring all facets of our military, our reservists, our citizen soldiers, our Guardsmen, our active duty, our civilians and our contractors and showcase what they bring to the fight on behalf of the state of Arkansas and the nation each and every day,” said Air Force Col. Charles Brown, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

The expo, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will include festivities such as aircraft demonstrations, static displays, a C-130J cargo drop demonstration, and multiple vendors. The Vandenberg Gate opens at 9 a.m.



The C-130 is a cargo aircraft capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. The C-130 can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel.


The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The C-17 is capable of rapidstrategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area.

The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required. T-6 The T-6 is fully aerobatic and features a pressurized cockpit with an anti-G system, ejection seat and an advanced avionics package with sunlight-readable liquid crystal displays.


Warbirds are retired military aircraft that have been restored to flying condition.

The MQ-1 is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and secondarily against dynamic execution targets.

In addition to the wide-array of aircraft on display, there will be other events and activities including bouncy castles and static displays, providing fun for the whole family.

“This surrounding community has built this base,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Bennett, 19th AW vice commander.

“Doing things like the Arkansas Military Expo this fall is just one little way we can say thank you and communicate how much we value that partnership just a little bit more.”

EDITORIAL >> Candidate may be disqualified

Folks in Beebe are wondering if city council candidate Joe Morgan may be disqualified from running for office because of a theft conviction.

Morgan, 35, is running for the Ward 3, Position 1 seat held by Alderman Matt Dugger, who is seeking re-election in November.

According to our reporter Jeffrey Smith in The Leader on Saturday, Morgan filed a petition with White County District Court on Sept. 2 to seal the records of his criminal conviction that he believes restores his eligibility to hold office.

Morgan was found guilty of theft of property, a Class-A misdemeanor, in August 2013 in Searcy District Court. Morgan was fined $1,000, sentenced to 20 days of community service and one year of supervised probation.

The victim told Searcy police in October 2012 that he loaned Morgan a Taurus .38 Special handgun Morgan needed for his security job. The victim said he couldn’t get his gun back or any money from Morgan, who allegedly pawned the weapon at Guns Plus in Searcy. The gun was later sold at a Conway gun show for $400.

Morgan works for the Arkansas Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America as safety director and manager of education and training. Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Morgan to the Arkansas Apprenticeship Coordination Steering Committee. He also serves on the Little Rock Workforce Development Board. His theft conviction might disqualify him from both positions. A White County judge needs to rule before November on whether Morgan is eligible to run for public office. Someone should also seek an attorney general’s opinion on whether Morgan is qualified to serve on public boards.

EDITORIAL >> A new field of dreams

Demolition crews at the old middle school in Jacksonville have worked hard in the last couple of weeks to clear the 30-acre site for a new high school near Main Street and Hwy. 67/167. Demolition should be completed in about a month as the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District looks to a fresh start with construction of a new high school and three more elementary schools in the next few years.

The $60 million high school will open in 2019 with an initial enrollment of 1,200-1,400 students and is expected to grow to a projected 10-year enrollment of 1,693 students. That number could drop, but the school district will then downsize plans if enrollment doesn’t reach the more optimistic numbers.

Current enrollment at the old high school is 966 students, and enrollment should typically grow to about 1,000 by the end of the school year, according to School Superintendent Tony Wood.

We’d like to think enrollment will increase at the new high school when parents see the new campus under construction. It will be visible from Hwy. 67/167 and will be a great advertisement not just for the school district but for the whole city.

“I think you’ll be writing about growth for years to come as we grow stronger and are more progressive and mature, growth will come,” he told our reporter John Hofheimer last week.

The high school will have about 260,000 square feet of energy-efficient space, such as dining and media center, which can be increased or downsized depending on enrollment.

Plans call for four science labs and 50 additional core classrooms, a 900-seat auditorium with after-hours accessibility and a 1,500-seat competition gym and practice gym with lockers and support space.

The student-run Simply Delicious Restaurant will continue to operate on campus, along with career-education spaces for auto body, information technology, robotics, computer aided design and crafting, computer coding and more totaling 21,000 square feet in all.

Lead architect Eldon Bock of Witsell, Evans and Rasco said there also would be spaces for choir, art, band and orchestra and a storm shelter sized for the campus populations.

Athletic facilities will include weight training, sports-field seating, concessions and press box and collaboration spaces for teacher teaming and small group interaction.

The new high school campus will signal Jacksonville’s rebirth and will help revive the rest of the city along with its neighbors.

School board president Daniel Gray said at the start of the demolition, “JNPSD will provide our kids with the world-class facilities, curriculum and opportunities they deserve.”

He said parents no longer need to leave Jacksonville to give their children the best education. We agree: If you build it, they will come.

SPORTS STORY >> K-Rich’s replacement performs well

Special to The Leader

FAYETTEVILLE - Officially, two tackles comprised Arkansas senior cornerback Jared Collins’ only statistics during the Razorbacks’ 41-38 double overtime victory over the then 15th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs last Saturday night.

Unofficially, says Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, though certainly official in his mind, Collins, of Tulsa greatly impacted the outcome at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

“He’s playing extremely well,” Bielema said Monday. “They’re not throwing it his way because he’s covering them like a glove and doing really, really well.”

As you would expect, TCU quarterback Kenny Hill attacked sophomore backup become starting cornerback Ryan Pulley of Fort Myers, Fla.

Pulley started at cornerback because against TCU’s Spread offense, starting cornerback Henre Toliver moved to starting nickel back, replacing Kevin Richardson, the junior from Jacksonville lost for the season following surgery to repair pectoral muscles torn during Arkansas’ 21-20 Sept. 3 season-opening victory over Louisiana Tech in Fayetteville.

Pulley responded by breaking up three passes and making four tackles.

“Ryan played really well,” Bielema said.

Albeit a 13-yard touchdown, that was the only catch that TCU receiver Taj Williams caught from Hill against Arkansas after catching 11 for 158 yards the previous week in the Horned Frogs’ 59-41 victory over South Dakota State in Fort Worth.

“Yeah, that guy caught 12 balls the week before if I’m not mistaken,” Bielema said, his offhand memory just one catch off. “I tell you what, Ryan, since he’s got here, is a guy that I’ve said has extreme talents. He’s got long arms. He’s very, very competitive. He laid it all out on the field.”

Pulley literally laid it out on the field cramping up late in the game on a hot night against a hurry-up, no-huddle offense. Arkansas senior middle linebacker Brooks Ellis also was felled by cramps while playing the game of his life, 13 tackles and a 47-yard touchdown return of the Hill pass he intercepted.

“I know the fans over there thought we were laying down on purpose to stop clocks or whatever,” Bielema said. “I mean he was cramping up. He was in full body cramps. He did everything he could.”

TCU fans booed especially vociferously when Ellis cramped late in the game and had to be assisted off the field. The booing galled Bielema and Arkansas linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves.

“I thought it was a very sick moment,” Bielema said. “As Vernon said to me, ‘Yeah, I want Brooks Ellis out of the game. Right, we’re faking an injury. We’re taking what we think may be our best player off the field.’ It makes no sense.”

Of course the TCU fans’ cynicism was fed by how quickly Ellis returned to the fray.

“He got the quickest IV I’ve ever seen in the history of mankind,” Bielema said. “Our doctors should be the SEC doctors of the week. They probably wouldn’t get it, and I’m not going to quit over it.”

That was Bielema’s joking post game Saturday reference that he would “quit” if Arkansas senior punter Toby Baker, five punts of 50 yards plus and the sixth, 37, intentionally bee-lined out of bounds to neutralize outstanding TCU returner Kavontae Turpin.

Baker didn’t get the SEC Special Teams Award. The SEC Office in Birmingham couldn’t let the Hogs hog all the weekly honors with junior quarterback Austin Allen named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and senior left tackle and field goal blocker Dan Skipper named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Back to Pulley and his impact on the Robb Smith coordinated Razorbacks defense.

“He was very emotional after the game to get his first real dose of so much football,” Bielema said. “Him and Robb are very close. Robb recruited him and I know Robb was very proud of him. I think we’re just scratching the surface of what Ryan can be.”

Smith isn’t alone proud of Pulley.

“A lot of guys are really proud of the way Ryan Pulley competed,” Smith said Monday. “That was kind of his first start against a power five school. You guys remember last year we kind of threw him into the fire against Tennessee-Martin.”

Pulley got burned some as though outclassed, 63-28, UTM did total 380 yards passing.

Hill netted 377 yards passing on Arkansas in Fort Worth but needed 56 passes, completing 33, to do it.

“He (Pulley) kind of reminds what a lot of our guys went through,” Smith said. “We took our lumps at times. but it’s all part of the process. He showed up and he competed every snap and he was feeling it (the cramps) at the end of the game but he found a way to compete and help us win a big football game against a ranked opponent on the road.”

Pulley’s progress propels under new defensive backfield coach Paul Rhoads, Smith said.

“That says a lot to what Paul has done with him and the hard work that Ryan has had in the offseason,” Smith said. “The sky is the limit for Ryan.”

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot boys’ golf having great year

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys’ golf team beat North Little Rock at the Greens at North Hills last Thursday, but suffered its first defeat of the season on Monday in a close match with Conway.

Playing just nine-hole rounds, Cabot easily outdistanced the Charging Wildcats in Sherwood last week, firing a team score of 152 to North Little Rock’s 168.

Panther Caleb Miller took medalist honors with a nine-hole round of 37, while Connor Gaunt and Cade Carter each shot 38 for the Panthers. Blaine Calhoon shot a 39 to round out the top four team scores. Jordan Lott and Logan Stephens added 40s while Hayes Barger shot a 45.

On Monday at the Cypress Creek course in Cabot, Conway nipped the Panthers by one stroke, shooting a 153 to Cabot’s 154.

Conway’s Whit Parker shot an even par 136 at the long back course at Greystone to earn medalist honors. Miller and Gaunt each shot 38 to lead Cabot while Stephens and Lott shot 39. Calhoon turned in a 40 for the Panthers.

Blake Brindley shot 38 for Conway. Michael Tate shot a 39 for the Wampus Cats while Jackson Goodwin and Hunter Hull each shot a 40.

The Lady Panthers lost both of their recent matches. Taking just the top three scores, North Little Rock beat Cabot 118-149. Hannah Bakalekos shot even par 36 for medalist. Cloe Ann Doyle led Cabot with a 47.

Against Conway, Casey Ott shot a 2-under par 34 to lead the Lady Wampus Cats to a 117-147 win. Doyle, Maggie Martin and Ashley DeSalvo each shot 49 for Cabot.

SPORT STORY >> Badgers’ progress needs to continue

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers got what coach John Shannon believes was an important win last Friday against Lonoke. This year’s Beebe squad is heavily dependent on young players, and the head Badgers felt like an early win would be a confidence boost for his squad.

That became even more crucial after a disappointing, five-turnover performance in a 21-point loss at Greenbrier in the season opener. So beating Lonoke 49-7 last week was almost urgent.

“It was important confidence-wise,” said Shannon. “They realize they can play high school football. I felt like, when we didn’t turn the ball over, we executed pretty well against Greenbrier. But there’s nothing like getting that win on the record to show you’re moving forward and give you that confidence.”

Up next for Beebe is perennial power Wynne, a former 5A-East stable mate of the Badgers, and a team that has changed offenses since the last time the two have met.

That last meeting was in the 2014 5A state semifinals; an exciting game the Yellowjackets won 35-28 with a late defensive stand. That team featured a strong passing quarterback and ran the Spread. This year, the Yellowjackets have gone to the Flexbone, which is catered more towards Wynne’s usual strength, speed.

It’s more reminiscent of the Diamond T utilized by legendary coach Don Campbell when he helped build WHS into the powerhouse it became in the 90s and early 2000s.

Wynne (2-0) has beaten Marion 42-17 and Maumelle 38-21 in its first two games this season.

“They’re really good,” Shannon said of Wynne. “They’ve switched over to the Flexbone and have a really good fullback. They have good slots that they run the option with, the toss sweep with some speed. But the best thing about them on film, to me, is the offensive line. They get off the ball exceptionally well. They’re low, they’re strong. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge for us. It’s going take a stellar performance on our part.”

Beebe’s defense is more confident after the second game. After giving up 54 points to Greenbrier, Shannon was particularly glad to see his defense dominate Lonoke, which also runs the Flexbone. The Badgers gave up just two first downs and only 80 total yards of offense.

Shannon doesn’t expect that kind of domination against Wynne, but he was glad to see his defense turn in such a solid performance.

“I thought our inside linebackers showed a lot of progress,” Shannon said. “Luke Oakley is a sophomore that had a really good game at outside linebacker last week. But Wynne is a different monster. They’re a lot bigger than Lonoke and Lonoke had some injuries on offense that hurt them a little bit. They turned it over a few times for us, but I think our defense had something to do with a couple of those turnovers. We’re getting better, but we’re going to have to keep getting better to have a chance in this one.

“We had a good practice and it looks like we’re doing that. Our goal is minimize mistakes on defense, don’t turn it over on offense and give ourselves a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.”

SPORT STORY >> Bears favored at Titans

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville and Sylvan Hills face off again this Friday at Jan Crow Stadium, and for the first time in five years, it’s a nonconference matchup. Jacksonville moved up to Class 6A this year, but the visiting Bears will be the favorites when they roll into Jan Crow for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

Sylvan Hills is 2-0, despite not playing very well offensively in last week’s 28-27 win over Hot Springs Lakeside. The Bears beat Catholic 48-34 in week one, while Jacksonville (1-1) lost 31-6 to Catholic last week at War Memorial Stadium.

“We got our work cut out for us,” said Jacksonville coach Barry Hickingbotham. They’ve got weapons all over the field, and that quarterback can go. He’ll hurt you just as bad running or throwing it, so you can’t load up on one or the other.”

Sylvan Hills has had two big halves offensively and two bad ones. The Bears scored 41 of their 48 points against Catholic in the first half, and all 28 of their points against Lakeside in the second half.

They needed a blocked field goal on the last play of the game to preserve last week’s victory, but even that play came with a scare.

“We just didn’t play very well offensively,” said Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow. “We just made a bunch of silly mistakes, and one of them almost cost us the game. We block the field goal, and half the team runs off the field celebrating. They had a guy pick it up at the 7-yard line, and fortunately we had a few with the presence of mind to tackle him before he scored. We were very fortunate to get out of there with a win. We really were, because we didn’t play well at all.”

The good news for Withrow and Sylvan Hills, the head Bear knows his team can play a lot better.

”Without a doubt we can,” Withrow said. “I think it’s a case where we just kind of expected to be successful. After that first half against Catholic, we thought it was going to be easy. We have to learn that’s not how it is, and it’s never going to be that way. We aren’t going to be able to just roll out there and score 40 every half. We have to execute.”

Withrow detailed a few of those mistakes last Friday.

“We have a run and shoot play to open the game, and nobody (defender) is there. We could have walked it in from 50 yards, and we drop it. On our third play, Jordan (Washington) keeps it, and if the receiver just blocks the guy and doesn’t hold, that’s a touchdown. We came back later and dropped a deep ball. So there were points to be had that we left out there. It was really kind of embarrassing how bad we were in the first half. But we also know, if we don’t make those mistakes, we win that game without near as much trouble.”

Jacksonville has exhibited a big-play threat offensively, but struggled to finish drives against the Rockets. The Titans have scored five touchdowns this year, and four have covered at least half the field.

“It’s always great to have that threat, but you can’t rely on that to win many games,” Hickingbotham said. “We have to do a better job of finishing drives. We’re not trying to focus on touchdowns with each and every play. We’re focusing on first downs, and marching down the field. We can’t keep putting ourselves behind the chains or losing the football. It was just a case where, evidence of a young and inexperienced team reared its head on us last week. We moved the football and got close, but then made mistakes that cost us those opportunities. We just have to keep growing and maturing and working to get better. What I like is this group has shown the willingness and desire to do that.”

Withrow is wary of Jacksonville’s big-play threat, but was also pleased with his defense last week.

“That was a case last week where the defense kept us in the game in the first half,” Withrow said. “They were outstanding, and they had to be. If they hadn’t been as good as they were, we would’ve been in a big hole in that second half. Darius Waddell had a good game at safety. Anthony Duncan got his second interception of the year. Curtis Wiggins is the one that got through and blocked that field goal, so there were a lot of positives for us defensively.”