Taggart Moore said Sunday his Lonoke Jackrabbits were ready for their football opener Friday at Carlisle.
The two Lonoke County teams will meet for just the second time since 1990 when the Jackrabbits travel to Fred C. Hardke Field.
“We’re ready, I think,” Moore said. “They’re certainly not a slouch (Class) 2A team. It’s not like you’re playing a team you should beat by 50. They’re a good team, a tradition-rich team. They play hard — they beat a (Class) 4A team last year in DeWitt.
“It’s definitely not one of those situations we should go there and kill them. They’re a good opponent, and we wouldn’t want them on our schedule if they weren’t.”
Last year, Lonoke trailed early, 12-7, but rallied to lead by 14-12 at the half en route to a 41-28 victory.
“We had a lot of nerves last year,” Moore said. “There was the buildup all summer long. I think we came out flat, but after halftime we got some adjustments made and everything went according to plan.
“I hope we don’t take that long to get ready to roll this year. Our kids are definitely not underestimating them. We’ll be more prepared this year for their offense.”
Carlisle finished 7-5 last year and reached the post-season for the 11th consecutive year. The Bison reached the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs. They won six of their final eight games.
Three starters return for Uhiren’s trademark Diamond T offense. Five are back for the Bison’s multiple defensive scheme.
“Last year was the first time we had played that particular offense,” said Moore, who was defensive coordinator when the two teams opened the season last year. “It’s definitely different. I don’t know anybody in the state who runs it. It’s not too different from what you see out of Beebe in Week 2, but it’s definitely different. We have to be disciplined. They’re going to be strong up front, and they’re going to come at you hard those first few series and try to hit you in the mouth.”
Moore said fall camp had gone exactly to plan for the Jackrabbits.
“We’re completely healthy,” he said. “We got pretty well our entire offense in, everything we wanted to get in before Week 1. We got our entire defense in.
“We’ve been working on Carlisle since spring ball. The kids have gotten used to their formation. I hope when we get out there, it’s all going to click.”
Moore said the Jackrabbits’ benefit game at Vilonia last week should help them this week.
“We wanted to play them to get ready,” he said. “I think we’re ready to roll.”
Keys for the Jackrabbits?
“Ball control,” Moore said. “We’re already anticipating the weather. There’s supposed to be nearly an inch of rain, and that’s going to affect us more than it will them. We’re going to practice with a wet ball all week. Something big for us will be the Shotgun snaps. We’ll throw the ball more than they will.
“We’ve got to withstand the storm of the first couple of drives. Their 11 match up with our 11 really well. We do have the depth advantage on them, but we will have to withstand the first storm. We’ll just have to keep a fresh ball and keep it as dry as possible.”
Following the scrimmage at Vilonia, the Jackrabbits worked on weights and conditioning Tuesday before returning to full practice Wednesday and Thursday. They lifted weights before Friday’s city-wide pep rally.
“We got the kids and the city really excited about this week,” Moore said. “It’s everything to the community. Back when it was a huge rivalry, the towns and the schools were about the same size. It was a big rivalry every year. Both towns were upset when the rivalry didn’t get renewed.
“Last year was definitely the biggest crowd I’ve seen. There was a big buzz around. We’re excited. We told our fans to get ready to make it like a home game. We figure it’s going to be packed.
“It’s crazy because all the kids’ parents and grandparents know more about the rivalry than the kids do. It means a lot to them. We’ll be playing for them and our team.”