|The 2014 Lonoke Jackrabbits football team.|
By Mark Buffalo
The Lonoke Jackrabbits are coming off their best season since 2009 as they went 9-3, advancing to the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Lonoke lost several key players from that squad, including Arkansas State receiver Blake Mack and Hendrix defensive back Kody Smith.
However, a tough non-conference schedule could help the Jackrabbits get ready for the grind of the 4A-2 conference play. Lonoke opens the season Friday against Star City. Other non-conference games are Sept. 12 at Beebe and Sept. 19 at Little Rock McClellan. The 4A-2 conference opener is Sept. 26 against Heber Springs.
"We feel good about our non-conference schedule getting us ready for conference," said Lonoke coach Doug Bost, who is entering his sixth season as head coach. He is the longest-tenured Lonoke coach since Ronnie Carter's second stint, which ended in 1995.
"That's what you play for — to try to be conference champion," Bost said. "We know West Helena is moving in and they are very solid and we know that Newport returns a lot of starters. Those are the Top 2 dogs in the conference."
Junior Savonte Rountree replaces Smith as the Jackrabbits quarterback.
Receivers include juniors Justin Meadows and Juwaun Bryant and sophomore Logan Dozier.
Junior all-conference running back Josh Coleman returns this season. He rushed for 1,423 yards and 18 touchdowns on 189 carries in 2013.
Senior Chandler Elmore will play fullback this season.
Bost said the offensive line has been rotating some during camp. They include senior Preston Jacks, junior Ethan Ellis, junior Kane Williams, junior Lucas McKenzie, senior Chance Bronson, sophomore Zack Murray, senior Jacob Vandiver and senior Dylan Goforth.
"We've got a combination there," Bost said. "We're just going to see what the best combination is."
Goforth was an all-state performer a year ago at defensive end.
"We're looking for a good year out of him," Bost said.
Vandiver, senior Deven Mosely and McKenzie will play on the defensive line.
Linebackers include Elmore, junior Ethan Holland, Coleman and junior Lance Dugger.
Defensive backs include senior Caleb Bailey, senior Braylon Bryant, Meadows and senior Trey Bevis.
Several players are set to play on both sides of the ball this season."We're trying to get the best players out there and you've got to the backups ready for the two-way players," Bost said. "When they do need a break, you can put them [backups] in and feel comfortable."