The Jacksonville Red Devils went back to the drawing board this week as the team works to get back on the right track following a 38-18 loss to the Helena-West Helena Central Cougars.
When the offense is clicking, it can make it look easy. Jacksonville has scored early touchdowns against their last three opponents, but then grew inconsistent at times.
Jacksonville marched down the field and scored on a short plunge by Reggie Barnes to open Friday’s game at Helena. The Cougars are a team that can match and beat the Devils’ speed, and eventually showed that big play ability.
Helena tied the game at 6-6 with a pair of field goals, then took the lead when a 68-yard punt return put them near Jacksonville’s goal line. The Cougars took a 13-6 lead with just over two minutes left in the half. An interception set up Helena’s next score just before halftime, giving them a 19-6 lead at the break.
Lamont Gauss helped pull the Red Devils within a single score with a 21-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. The rest of the game was all Helena, as Anthony Lewis caught touchdown passes of 47 and 68 yards. Lewis also had the long punt return in the second quarter.
Jacksonville added a late touchdown when Robert Knowlin broke away for a 41-yard score to set the final margin.
This week, the Red Devils seemingly have a much easier game as they play host to the Little Rock McClellan Crimson Lions. McClellan is 0-4, losing blowouts to Searcy, Central Arkansas Christian and Lonoke before a more respectable loss against Mills last week.
The Lions don’t have a ton of depth, but have a few athletes with breakaway speed. Jacksonville’s biggest advantage will come up front, where they can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Jacksonville came into the season expecting to challenge Pulaski Academy for the conference throne, so a league-opening loss to the Helena Cougars was not in the plans. Jacksonville will need to get the kinks ironed out this week, as Sylvan Hills has shown they may have enough offense to get in a shoot out with Pulaski Academy, while the Mills Comets also look vastly improved with a 4-0 record.