Lonoke needs a win over Central Arkansas Christian on Friday in order to keep its football playoff hopes alive.
Taggart Moore’s Jackrabbits are 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the 2-4A after a 6-0 loss at Helena-West Helena Central last week. CAC is 0-7 and 0-4.
“We need to win this game, first and foremost, and then we can see what’s going on the last two weeks,” Moore said Monday. “If you win all three, you’re for sure going. If you win this one, you might could lose one more.
“We just want to take it week by week and win this one first.”
The two teams are a combined 0-6 against three common opponents. Southside Batesville beat the Jackrabbits, 28-14, and the Mustangs, 42-0. Heber Springs beat Lonoke, 41-22; and CAC, 31-28. Helena-West Helena beat Lonoke, 6-0; and CAC, 50-13.
Southside is the only unbeaten team in the league at 7-0 and 4-0. Stuttgart (4-3), Helena-West Helena Central (6-1) and Heber Springs (4-3) are tied for second in the conference standings at 3-1. Riverview is 5-2 and 2-2 for fifth. Lonoke is sixth at 2-5 and 1-3. CAC and Baptist Prep are tied for seventh at 0-7 and 0-4.
The top five teams will advance to the Class 4A state playoffs.
“CAC plays tough,” Moore said. “They played a really tough non-conference schedule, and they have played the meat of their schedule early. Honestly, they’re a lot different than they were last year as far as their offense goes. Normally they’re in the Spread, throwing it around, and this year they want to be Double Wing if they can and stay in that until they have to get out of it.
“They’re definitely a lot more run-oriented than they’ve been. They are well coached and they have smart kids who are going to do things the right way.”
Looking at his young personnel, Mustang coach Tommy Shoemaker made the decision to switch to the Wing T this fall. Moore said his team had faced a few teams with similar philosophies in Carlisle, Beebe and Baptist Prep.
“They will go into some Spread when they get behind,” he said.
Moore said the Lonoke defense was clicking.
“Helena was averaging 40 points per game, and we held them to one touchdown and stopped them seven times on downs — four in our red zone,” he said. “Coach (Jack) Keith has done a great job there.”
Against the Cougars, the Jackrabbits grabbed six turnovers — interceptions by Dalton Smith, Tallon Swint, Terry Moore, Kolton Davidson and Tyler Washington and a fumble recovery by Antonio Earl.
“But our offense has got to put our defense in better position,” Moore said. “You look at the score and you’d think our offense didn’t play well, but we still had a lot of total offense. We moved the ball well, but when we’d get down to where we should put points on the board, we’d do something to shoot ourselves in the foot.
“But we’re getting there and getting better each week. Last year at this point, Southside Batesville and Helena (the last two weeks) were 35-point victories for the other team. This year we are playing them tough, and the games could go the other way. So we’ve come a long way in a year.”
Michael Hodges earned 11 tackles for Lonoke. Swint added 10. Moore said his defensive line — ends Earl, Hunter Clark and Hunter Kyzer and tackles Preston Taylor and Keyunta Hatton — “just dominated the entire game.”
Daniel Seigrist completed 10 of 16 passes for 111 yards. The Jackrabbits added 113 yards rushing on 20 carries. Xavier Hodge was the leading rusher with 51 yards on 10 carries. Dalton Smith caught three passes for 61 yards.