CEDAR RIDGE TIMBERWOLVES:
Timberwolves counting on experience
BY MICHAEL YOUNG CONTRIBUTING WRITER
August 28, 2011
LITTLE ROCK The Cedar Ridge Timberwolves made their first-ever trip to the state playoffs last season.
To return, they’ll have to overcome a lack
of speed and the loss of
Justin Lovell, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior, will lead the T-wolves from the quarterback position. He and the rest of the offensive scheme are learning a new offense.
“We’re going to the Spread. They’ve picked it up well,” Cedar Ridge coach Todd Lovell said. “We started putting it in a little bit last year. We’re going to get away from the Wing T.” The Timberwolves are also changing their defensive formation, moving to the 4-3 out of the 5-2.
“We’re getting into the new age of football,” Lovell said.
On offense, all-state fullback Matt Hudson (5-10, 230) returns for his senior season. He is joined by classmates Andy Crawford, Chad Baker, Justin Keller, Justin Francis, C.J. Dye and Adam Goodman.
Juniors Trent Jones and James Ritter and sophomores Christian Castello and Brett Bell are also expected to start.
Hudson played the hero role last season against Cross County when he caught a pass, broke several tackles and scored on the final play. That score capped a fourth-quarter rally, and the 14-12 win sent the T-wolves to the state playoffs for the first time, where they lost to top-seeded Bearden.
“Matt is just an excellent football player. He was a unanimous decision for all-state last year, and he’s only improved,” Lovell said.
Crawford (5-10, 160) will line up at halfback and will also slide out to a receiver position. He won all-conference honors last season.
Cody Weathers, an all-conference running back, graduated. However, Castello has the potential to be as good or better than Weathers, Lovell said.
“Castello is built a lot like the Weathers kid. He’s strong just like him and will be a good hand for us,” Lovell said.
The coach also expects big things from Bell, a 6-3, 210-pound fullback.
“He has the potential to play at the next level,” Lovell said.
Sophomores Brandon Lindsey and Cody Powell could also be called on for help in the backfield.
Baker (6-2, 205) and Trent Jones (5-11, 170) will be the tight ends. In the trenches, Keller (6-3, 210) will snap the ball and will be flanked by Francis(6-1, 205), Ritter (6-2, 230), Dye (5-8, 170) and Goodman (6-0, 205).
On the defensive line, senior Joey Henderson (5-8, 230) and junior Jim Kolke (5-8, 220) are top prospects at tackle, and Hudson and Goodman are vying for the defensive-end positions. Keller, Bell and Jones will back them up, and Castello, Lovell and Crawford are expected to play in the secondary.
Cedar Ridge was picked to finish fifth in the 3-2A by conference coaches. East Poinsett County is the favorite, followed by McCrory, Walnut Ridge, Augusta, Cedar Ridge, Salem, Marked Tree and Cross County.
“I think the conference will be better this year,”Lovell said. “I know EPC, McCrory, Walnut Ridge and Augusta will be better than they were last year.
McCrory will be tough, and I think we’ll be better.” The Cedar Ridge players who are seniors this season have enjoyed a lot of success. They were undefeated from fourth grade until their freshman year. Salem handed the players their first loss when they were ninth-graders.
Cedar Ridge began its high school varsity program that year, and the Timberwolves are 7-22 since then. They won five games last season.
“We have a lot of experience now. My biggest concern is our lack of speed,” Lovell said. “We have decent speed, but we’re not that fast when you compare us to the other teams statewide.”CEDAR RIDGE TIMBERWOLVES
SEPT. 2 .... @ SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE
SEPT. 9 .................WALNUT RIDGE*
SEPT. 16 .............@ MARKED TREE*
SEPT. 23 ....................... @ SALEM*
SEPT. 30 ............................... OPENOCT. 7 ......................@ MCCRORY OCT. 14 .....EAST POINSETT COUNTY OCT. 21 ..................... @ AUGUSTA OCT. 28 ....................... @ QUITMAN NOV. 3 ..................CROSS COUNTY
Three Rivers, Pages 40 on 08/28/2011
Three Rivers 40