Carlisle football coach Mark Uhiren was a bit disappointed in his Bison’s opener last week — a 42-6 loss to county rival Lonoke.
“We didn’t play very well at all,” Uhiren said Sunday. “It’s really hard to tell what’s going on in their minds sometimes. I thought we were prepared to play. I didn’t detect anything that was where they would not go out and perform to the best of their ability.
“They tried, but they’re a young bunch, and they’re immature. There’s a deal about maturity — when things don’t go like you want them, you don’t pout about it; you do something about it. They aren’t mature enough yet to get to that point. They’ve been told that. It’s nothing new. We’re trying to work on it. But it’s something that they’re going to have to grow into.
“I hope that was a wake-up call for them. If they don’t make adjustments, nothing will change.”
The Bison, physically much improved from Uhiren’s first season last year, were doubled in classification (Class 2A to Class 4A) and more than doubled in numbers (22 to mid-50s).
“There’s no doubt they were bigger and stronger than we were,” he said. “But once again, we’ve told them all the time the weight room is the starting point. It’s the place where you prepare yourself to do the things you have to do, but you’ve still got to prepare mentally. You’ve still got to know what you’re doing, and you’ve got to execute.
“We fell way short on the execution part.”
He said the Bison’s post-game meetings included no ranting or raving.
“It was more of a discussion,” Uhiren said. “We’re trying to reach them. Everybody was dejected; no doubt about it, but you’ve got to go back in there and learn from your mistakes and see if we can’t right the ship.
“It was kind of like last year except we came away (from the Lonoke game) with a pretty good feeling, other than getting beat. But this year we got it handed to us. They were better; they played better, and they were more energetic than we were.”
Lonoke led by 21-0 after the first quarter and 35-0 with 7:10 left before the break. Carlisle scored early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run by Davarius Allen.
Allen earned 42 yards on 13 carries as the Bison’s leading rusher.
Uhiren said he wouldn’t make excuses for the Bison’s overall low numbers or their multiple two-way players.
“We’ve got to forget the bad things that happened and learn and mature from that,” he said. “We’ve got to put a better product on the field — no more whining and moaning about having to run at practice, about conditioning. We pushed them through it, but here’s the thing — you shouldn’t have to do that.
“They know it’s football. They know it’s hot in Arkansas; they know they’ve got to go both ways. Somewhere along the line, they’re going to have to learn to be tough.”
The Bison will have a chance to acquit themselves Friday when they travel to Class 4A DeWitt. Carlisle knocked off the Dragons last year, 30-26.
“You’ve got two (Class) 4A schools right here at the front of the schedule,” Uhiren said. “Last year we were fortunate to play a pretty decent DeWitt team and beat them. They’re younger this year, kind of in the same boat as we are.
“But I expected our maturity to be better. We’ll just have to wait and see about that. We’re young and inexperienced.”
The Dragons were winless last year. In fact, they’ve won just 12 games since 2009. Four starters return to run Mark Courtney’s Multiple offense with five. Ack for the Multiple defensive scheme.
“They’ve got a completely different game plan from last year,” Uhiren said. “They lost a couple of good running backs. They’ve still got a couple, but their numbers have gone way down. They are now in the Wing-T, the Spread, Shotgun — and the coach’s son is the quarterback. I’ve got a feeling they’re going to work pretty hard toward that.”
DeWitt lost its opener to Riverview last week, 35-6.
“Riverview’s a pretty salty little team, and with DeWitt being young and inexperienced, I wasn’t surprised,” Uhiren said.
The coach said his four Bison seniors faced a bit of a leadership challenge.
“They’re outnumbered by the juniors,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier when you’ve got 12 seniors sitting there looking at your juniors.”