Apparently the Sylvan Hills Bears needed a game under their belts in order to get on a roll.
After suffering a 44-7 loss to Little Rock Catholic the first week of the season, the Bears (2-1) have been dominant in their last two contests. In two games against Hot Springs Lakeside and Jacksonville, Sylvan Hills has piled 76 points while limiting their opponents to 25. Last Friday, they defeated Jacksonville, 28-3.
“I don’t think we were unconfident, but the last two games have helped us to see what we can do,” Sylvan Hills Coach Jim Withrow said. “We learned from the first game. It showed our weaknesses, and we have gotten better.”
The Bears’ performance over the last two weeks is welcomed as they open 5A-Central play Friday at Little Rock McClellan. The Lions are also 2-1 with victories over Sheridan and Little Rock Hall. Their lone loss was a 48-30 setback to North Little Rock. Both teams’ losses have occurred to 7A teams.
One thing Sylvan Hills will have to overcome is McClellan’s size. Withrow was surprised when he watched them play and realized they were averaging 316 pounds across the line. Withrow also noticed one of their running backs is faster than anybody the Bears have.
“Somehow, some way, we have to slow the running game down and control the line of scrimmage,” he said. “They are huge on the offensive line, and one of the biggest teams I have seen.”
With the 5A-Central comprised of traditionally successful teams Little Rock Christian and Pulaski Academy and other teams like Little Rock Parkview getting better, winning this first conference game is crucial. The top four teams finishers in the conference advance to the state playoffs.
“This is one of the main games we want to win,” Withrow said. “We don’t want to get in a hole. Six teams have a chance to make it, and we want to win against the teams who have a legitimate shot to make it.”
In the Jacksonville victory, quarterback Ryan Lumpkin passed for 110 yards on 10-of-14 passing which included a touchdown reception to Cole Miller. Of the Bears’ 213 rushing yards, Deon Youngblood accumulated 79 on 17 carries including a 1-yard touchdown run. Ty Compton tallied two scores on touchdown runs of 5 and 3 yards and finished with 34 yards on 11 totes. Youngblood was also the leading receiver with six catches for 67 yards.
“We are finally taking care of the ball and not putting in on the ground,” Withrow said. “Ryan is also throwing the ball pretty efficiently which keeps everybody honest.”
Compton was the leader on defense with three tackles, one sack and three tackles for a loss. Several players had two tackles including De’Viontae Muldrow who also added one sack and one tackle for a loss.