|Lonoke's Jackson Ward blocks for an extra point during the Jackrabbits' win over Carlisle last year at Fred C. Hardke Field. Ward is one of 12 seniors on this year's Jackrabbits' football team. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — Lonoke Jackrabbits football coach Taggart Moore said his team is good shape as it starts game week for the Carlisle Bison.
Lonoke hosts Carlisle in the Central Lonoke County Showdown on Aug. 31 at James B. Abraham Stadium. The Jackrabbits have won the previous two meetings after the rivalry was suspended after the 1990 season.
“Everything has gone according to our plan,” said third-year coach Taggart Moore. “The main thing is we’re completely injury free, knock on wood. All 41 of them. So we’re happy about that.”
Moore said the coaching staff has installed everything offensively and defensively. The Jackrabbits scrimmaged Lamar and Dover on Tuesday in Lamar.
“We came out of the scrimmage exactly where we need to be,” Moore said. “So we’re really happy with where we’re at right now.”
The Jackrabbits have 12 seniors on this year’s squad. And Moore said all 12 will start. They include: Braidon Bryant, Jackson Ward, Nicholas Dixon, Terry Moore, Noah Mulligan, Will McNeil, Cody Finley, Nick Tate, Dalton Smith, Hunter Keyzer, Julian Lopez and Antonio Earl.
“The seniors are pretty much everything to this group,” Moore said.
The seniors were sophomores when Moore took over as Lonoke coach after Doug Bost resigned after a 1-3 start.
“They’ve gone through some hard times and some good times,” Moore said. “I feel really close with this group. They’ve seen where we were and where we’ve come to this year. They’ve all grown up physically and mentally. All of them are leaders. We’ve never had a group where all of them are going to play a big role on the field, every single one of them.”
While the Lonoke-Carlisle game does not help either team get to its ultimate goal of winning state championship, it is a huge game as far as crowds.
“We’re excited about the game,” Moore said. “It means a lot to the two towns and to these kids and to the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.
“We’re excited about the opportunity. We love the game. It’s not a conference game but we think of it as a conference game. We think of it as a state championship game. The kids are excited. They want to play in this game. They love the crowd and the atmosphere that we get.
“We’re expecting it again. Even though it’s not a conference game, we’re not letting our foot off the pedal for sure.”