Panthers focus on preventing costly turnovers

Lincoln Prep faces Jonesboro-Hodge Friday night. (photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T Scott Boatright

Sometimes a football coach wants to go over a tough loss again and again, trying to figure out what went wrong in order to try to turn things around.

Lincoln Preparatory School head coach Glen Hall probably doesn’t feel that way about last week’s 44-0 loss at Arcadia, preferring to put that contest in the past and moving on to another tough upcoming contest for his Panthers against Jonesboro-Hodge.

“The main thing was (we) made some errant snaps and that caused turnovers that cost us three touchdowns early in the game,” Hall said. “And once we got behind, we weren’t really ready to fight back, so it put us in a dysfunctional kind of situation.

“But we’ve addressed that and I’ve talked to the players and asked them what I can do to assist them more to be better prepared. They’ve told me they’re prepared and that they just have to get out there and do it. They know what happened. They just know they have to come back and fight more from start to finish.”

It was another turnover — not on a center/quarterback exchange — that started the Panthers’ downward spiral early on against Arcadia.

Lincoln Prep was driving early when senior running back Chauncy Harper broke free for a long run but lost the ball, with Arcadia recovering it.

And the Panthers never recovered from that play.

“One crucial play like that can change a game, especially a rivalry game.” Hall said. “We’re on our way to score and we cough it up. So they score and we come back and we’re on another drive and turn the ball over on downs because of an errant snap.

“Those hurt us early and gave (Arcadia) good field position. A lot of our fumbles were on first down. So we never got any momentum going and that kept our defense out there all night. It’s not going to work when that happens.”

Hall said his line has become a little beat up after going 2-1 in their first three games and has given them a little time to heal up in early week practices.

“We’ve just had them do some jogging and try to let them get their feet back up under them,” Hall said. “I think they’ll be ready. They’re saying they’re ready and that they want to play, so I think that it should be a good one come Friday – a better showing for us.”

Hall said that mental healing is as important as physical.

“I just let them know that they’re better than they showed last week,” Hall said. “Nobody is 44 points better than us at this point. So we just have to get back to scoring the ball, defending and doing the things that we do best.”

Hall said that all starts with the Panthers’ run game.

“We did nothing but work on our run game on Monday — the entire practice,” Hall said. “We’ve got to get our run game started because without that, we’re irrelevant.”

“I know Jonesboro has some great linebackers and some great linemen. So we’re going to have to do nose-to-nose with them. We’re going to get first downs by running and throwing a few play-action passes. That’s who and what we are.”

The Panthers completed seven passes against Arcadia to only two receivers — Harper and Brandon Heard.

“That was by design,” Hall said. “I was trying to get the ball into the hands of our best playmakers that can run after the catch. We did more short passes – screens and those kinds of plays. 

“Arcadia disrupted our quarterback with their big pass rush, so I was having him try to get the ball off early, bringing my X-receiver (Heard) in motion and going to him or throwing flare passes to my back (Harper). We were just trying to get the ball to guys who can run after making the catch.”

Hall realizes that the Panthers’ anemic offense wore down their defense against Arcadia.

“We have to get first downs,” Hall said. “We have to score on drives. We have to make games short. If we can’t do that, then we’re in a lot of trouble. Not having our offense going is wearing our defense down and doubling the score for the other side.

“So we’re going to have to get first downs and we’re going to have to play great run defense.”

Hall also realizes that it won’t get any easier facing Jonesboro-Hodge, which has opened the season with losses at General Trass, vs. West Ouachita and at Bunkie.

“Jonesboro is a bigger school and has played a tough schedule thus far,” Hall said. “They’re hungry for a win, and we’re hungry for a win, so now the kids are talking to each other. I know (Jonesboro-Hodge coach Terrance Blankenship) and we talked the other day and kind of cried on each other’s shoulders. 

“But this is the type of game the kids look forward to. I look at their offense and I see a mirror of our offense. We just can’t make mistakes. If we have more than two turnovers, we can’t come back off of that. I don;t want any turnovers, and if we don’t have any we’ll be in good shape at the end of the game. But if we turn the ball like we have been, there’s no way we’ll compete with them. We’ve got to do better with that.”

Lincoln Prep and Jonesboro-Hodge will meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Caldwell Peacock Stadium.


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